Getting through the evening - 7 tips to help

Emma Brown - Nutritionist | 04 Feb, 2016

We asked Nutracheck members which situations you find hardest to manage. The results of our poll are in:

  • No.1 Evenings – an overwhelming 42% of the vote
  • No.2 Weekends – 29%
  • No.3 Social occasions – 20%
  • No.4 Food around at work – 9%

So it seems that daytime is okay – breakfast, lunch, no problem. But when it comes to the evenings, it's a challenge not to undo all your good work. It's a shame to let a few hours in the evening derail your efforts of the day, so the question is, are there any strategies to help get you through the evening without caving to temptation?

Here are some practical things you can try.

1) Make sure your evening meal fills you up

Sounds obvious but if you feel satisfied, you are less likely to want to keep snacking after. So make sure you have a protein-rich meal in the evening – lean chicken or turkey breast, fish or a lean steak are good options. Protein has been shown to take longer to be digested so keeps us feeling fuller for longer.

2) Be carb smart

Again it's about feeling full. Have wholegrains on your plate – swap white pasta or potatoes for a 'brown' version. Healthier wholegrain options such as wholemeal pasta, brown rice, or swapping to a different carb such as quinoa, will help to fill you up, and less likely to snack.

3) Choose a satisfying dessert

Protein rich yogurts such as Danio, are thick and creamy but with only 120 kcal per pot and with fat free options, these can be a good dessert option for a fuller feeling.

4) Beware boredom

Keep busy – many people eat through boredom or habit in the evenings. Save some of your 'to do' list for the evening to keep your mind (and hands!) busy and stop you reaching for the biscuit tin.

5) Downsize

If alcohol is your downfall in the evenings, try cutting down by buying smaller glasses (wine glasses are sometimes huge), or change your tipple to a lower calorie option such as gin and slimline tonic.

6) Stock up on healthier snacks

Keep a stash of healthier snacks in your cupboards so you have something to reach for if you do get peckish. Fresh fruit or veg is the best option, but also things like wholegrain crisps or crackers, rice cakes, popcorn or even simple plain biscuits such as rich tea, will help without breaking the calorie bank.

7) Shake up your routine

We are creatures of habit, so switching around your usual routine, may help you to break unhelpful habits. For example if you usually eat quite late and find yourself grazing beforehand, try eating as soon as you get in. Or if you always have a cuppa with a bar of chocolate in the evening, try a low cal hot chocolate drink instead. If that doesn't hit the spot then have your chocolate bar but buy a smaller one, or switch to a few squares of dark chocolate, rather than cutting it out altogether. It's better to have less and stick to it, than go cold turkey and give in.

Tips for Website and App members

Your online food diary has a couple of options under 'Settings' that can help.

  • If you struggle to manage your calories during the day are always short in the evening, switch to the 'Meal Occasion' view. This will help you to see how you are spreading your calorie allowance across the day. If your daily target is 1,400 calories, aim to have 300 for breakfast, 400 for lunch, 500 for dinner, plus two snacks of 100 calories each. Save your snacks allowances for the evening so you have 700 calories to play with.
  • Use the 'Easier Days' setting. This lets you select a day (or days) of the week to have a few more calories – for example the weekends. Your calorie target for the week will be redistributed across the week to give you a bigger allowance on your chosen days.

Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.