There is a small book entitled “Mind over Mood”, and the title says it all. We are all trying not to respond to the internal dialogue that continually seems to run in the background of our brain. That demon that tempts us with thoughts of food, tries to talk us out of getting in some exercise, or reminds us of all the emotional demands and memories of the holiday season.

Over these past two weeks I have seen so many clients upset because they seem to be snacking uncontrollably in the evening. It is apparent that even if we eat little during the day, those evening snacks sabotage our weight loss efforts. There are a multitude of reasons for this, not the least of which is we are doing no activity at all then and we simply store those evening snacks. Also, from a hormonal point of view, we exponentially spike our insulin levels more readily in the evening when we eat (as per Dr. S. Panda’s studies), and this hormone is the worst offender when it comes to fat storage——and insulin levels stay up for hours.

Whatever the mechanism, it look like you and I need to stop this habitual evening snacking which certainly isn’t done out of hunger. Some of it is mindless; a lot I suspect is the internal mood; a carry-over from the day or issues we are facing at work or home, or with family and friends.

I feel that the first step towards conquering this evening snacking is to recognize it is likely going to happen, and being prepared to do something to stop it. Distractions are the best, get away from the TV and do something elsewhere. Exercise, go for a short walk, read a book in another room, write out a ‘to do’ list for the next day. Anything! We need to disassociate ourselves from the room/area where we are most likely to snack. Do you have a dog? Certainly it would love a short extra walk!

Sipping tea or water or any non-caloric beverage would be a thought. At least it might solve that hand to mouth issue that is part of the food brain response. Maybe it’s not the best, but I chew on sugarless gum and that sometimes works. It’s not the most glamorous; but, whatever it takes!

At very least, if you are watching TV, force yourself off the couch or chair and do some sort of movement during the commercials. Stand and do toe lifts? Walk around a couple of rooms? Do 5 or 6 simple ‘air squats’. Just Move….if only a little bit. So many people are fortunate enough to have bikes or treadmills or an elliptical in front of a TV, why not watch a program while you are walking or gently cycling? I guarantee, you won’t be snacking while you are doing this.

As a total aside (and it’s likely none of my business) I find many people simply sit with their partner on the couch ‘to be there’, even if there is no communication and worse, we are not even enjoying the program on the TV. So take a break; do something for yourself, you will feel better for it. It sounds harsh, but we need to take care of our own health. No one will else will be able to improve our health for us, that is our duty to ourselves.

The mood will always be there; good or bad; either state may lead to snacking; be prepared, be aware!

After a few evenings you will find the ‘need’ to snack disappear. Keep trying. You can do it. Just never give up!

Dr. B