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Aster's avatar

What can I snack on at night? Have a bad habit long=term!

Asked by Aster (18382points) August 23rd, 2012

I’m not sure when it started but it’s embarrassing and disgusting. Almost every night when I watch tv in bed I adore snacking. I’ve gained a Lot of weight doing this. Here are the snacks I’ve eaten: Half a bag of BBQ chips (Ruffles preferred); full bag of Orvill’s popcorn with 3 tablespoons of melted butter; pb&j sandwich; ⅓ a bag of Cheetos; tortilla chips with guacamole and my latest: jalapeno chips. I’ve been doing this for so long it seems normal to me. Now I’m horrified; I somehow now realize if I keep this up I’ll be 200 pounds. I just bought two new scales; luckily, I’m tall. Could you guys help me with substitutes for these so-called foods? Please don’t ask me to sit in a chair and sip water; that is just impossible to contemplate. And no; I do not get crumbs in the bed. The cravings begin at 7pm when the tv goes on . Can you help me? Thank you.

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21 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

Get rid of the snack stuff. Now!!! Don’t eat it ! Toss it or give it to the animals outside. Do it now!!!
Tomorrow, go to the grocery store and buy celery and carrots. That’s it. Celery and carrots. Cut them up into sticks and eat those when you get a craving. Don’t dip them in anything unless it is pepper or a little salt. Ok….I’ll compromise…. you may jazz them up a little bit with stuff that is in your spice cabinet. For fun use the oldest spices first. Promise yourself you will go an entire month without buying snack crap. Do it!!!
I would also recommend going for a relaxing 30 minute walk at 7:00 PM instead of sitting in front of the TV. This change alone will help you lose weight!

Unless you are going to your high school reunion or have a hot date on the horizon, you should not be trying to lose weight quickly. It took you a while to pack on those pounds. Give yourself an equal amount of time to sculpt them off.
You have taken the first step! Good luck!

Aster's avatar

Celery and carrots? No dip? No cottage cheese? Peanut butter? JK I’m a little afraid of carrots because when I broke off an aspirin a few years ago my tooth fell out.
Celery and carrots; almost makes me want to give up tv!

Jeruba's avatar

In addition to celery and carrots, consider sugar snap peas. I like them crisp from the refrigerator and sprinkled with a little salt. And edamame—lightly cooked and still crunchy, then refrigerated, again with a little salt. I happen to love cucumber wedges, too, and cherry or grape tomatoes. Also nice tart apples such as Granny Smith.

There’s no way you can fool yourself into imagining that these things taste like all that yummy fat. We like stuff loaded with fat because fat tastes good, and carrots are no substitute. But carrots are great at being carrots. You just can’t have all those chips and dips unless you want to keep wearing them. Carrots, celery, and the rest aren’t replacement snacks. They’re your new snacks.

Jeruba's avatar

One other thing: if you’ve got your snacking wired to your TV habit, how about putting off TV for one hour? I like @LuckyGuy‘s suggestion.

I went through a similarly tough transition when I quit smoking, and one of the things I had to do was watch out for those connections, like always lighting up when I had a drink or a cup of coffee. It took me a long while to break those connections (you can’t just quit meals because you always want to smoke after a meal), but I managed it in time. It’s been 22 years now.

Aster's avatar

I do like cucumbers with salt. And I have actually eaten a ton of grape tomatoes but I put Italian dressing on them first. Jeruba, I’m glad you said that this stuff can’t compare with the FAT I’ve been eating. I expected to hear, “it’s just as good, Aster, really it is.” So thanks for that. This is gonna be painful. I have to get the vision of BBQ chips out of my mind. I can taste them right now. Anyway, all the chips are gone. But I still have a new box of Orville’s popcorn and I’m not going to “toss” it.
If I could only smoke cigarettes that would be more satisfying than carrots. But for numerous reasons I will never do that again. I loved one with coffee too.

Jeruba's avatar

If you’ve quit smoking, you’ve already braved a big challenge.

And you can pop some plain popcorn with an air popper. It’s not the popcorn itself that’s the problem, and I bet you already know that. I know dieters who use Molly McButter on it.

I also love fresh fruit, and what I like to do with stuff like cantaloupe and pineapple is to cut it up into bite-sized chunks before I refrigerate it so I can spoon out a bowlful quickly without any prep time. One thing I’ve found is that making the healthy option convenient and readily available helps ward off the temptation of a quick snack grab. Environmental control is one very real tool for managing what you eat.

Earthgirl's avatar

Most snack foods are carbs. Eating carbs sets you up for carb cravings. They may not be loaded with fat so people tend to think they’re “healthier” but if you eat a lot of them and if the carbs come with a healthy dose of fat as with potato chips they can really pack on the pounds. It’s important to limit quantity and delving into a bag of snack food is just asking for trouble. I have tried pouring out the allowed amount and have found myself going back for seconds. Those carbs are so irresistable! They’re not filling and so we can eat the whole bag and not feel stuffed. (God, how I love Cheetohs!)

I try really hard to control my weight. My approved snacks are:

1) Nuts, even in limited quantities they are filling so you don’t eat as much even though they’re higher in calories than the carbs, plus they have omega 3s. Almonds, walnuts, etc are good. Stay away from honey roasted!! I love this mix from Trader Joe’s! It’s to die for!!
2) Wasabi peas and Wasabi seaweed (I buy these from Trader Joe’s) I like spicy food. You eat it more slowly and savor every bite. It’s naturally low calorei. I can sort of fulfill the crunchy cravings without all the carbs.
3) Tea or coffee with Splenda or Stevia for sweetener
4)Soy Ice Cream bars
5)Lemon ice
6)Fruit, fresh and dried
7)Low calorie yogurt, with and without fruit. I like to take plain yogurt and add Splenda and fresh fruit instead of all that gooey sweet stuff they usually add to yogurt.

There are probably more things that I’m forgetting but you get the idea. Avoid the carbs!!
Also, try sipping beverages instead of eating food. Watch the sugar.

Jeruba's avatar

I have to comment on your number 6, @Earthgirl, with information that I picked up in a diet program. We were told to stay away from dried fruits because they have a high concentration of sugar and we shouldn’t be avoiding water. We should be taking in extra water. Fresh fruits are good for this, but not dried.

A personal trainer asked me once, “Do you ever feel hungry again right after a meal?” When I said yes, she told me, “Lots of times you’re not really hungry—you’re thirsty. You haven’t had enough water. Be sure to drink plenty of water (at least 64 ounces per day) and see if you don’t feel fuller.”

gravity's avatar

My favorite snack and usually my supper, is a minibag of Orville Redenbacher’s butter (hey it IS my supper) popped with fresh squeezed lemon juice and parmasan cheese sprinkled on top. It is yummy!!! I know the lemon sounds odd but give it a try, it is a fabulous twist and very tasty : ) Happy snacking!

Supacase's avatar

Try some dry cereal if you’re having a hard time kicking the carbs to the curb. Put some in a bowl or cup and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Honestly, a cup of Cheerios isn’t all that bad – especially in comparison to what you are currently eating. You could also mix some berries in with the cereal and slowly work your way toward a bowl that has more berries than Cheerios… or even none at all.

If you feel you’re going to have a tough time changing your habit, don’t get drastic and set your self up for disappointment if you cave one night. Be patient with yourself.

Earthgirl's avatar

@Jeruba You are probably right. I don’t really eat much fresh or dried fruit really because of the sugar. Even sugar tempered by fiber is still full of calories. Again, it’s all a matter of quantity. You can’t fool yourself about how many calories you are ingesting! Filling up with low calorie beverages is a good strategy. Of course the best low calorie beverage is water but my favorite is iced tea. I buy only low or zero calorie iced tea. Love Honest Tea!

Blackberry's avatar

Apples and goldfish crackers….....Mmmmm….yeah, buddy….

gailcalled's avatar

How about watching TV on the sofa and keeping bed for sleeping and sex, rather than orgies of carbs, fat and salt?

The cravings may come because you are lying in bed like a lump and watching other people’s real and imaginary lives.

How about doing something else at 7:00 PM? Go for a walk (don’t you have doggies?), call a friend, invite a neighbor in for an iced-coffee, write to a family member, read a chapter of a book.Weed your garden. Learn a little French

TV from 7:00 to bedtime does limit your life experiences.

Crumbs are irrelevant. Don’t get side-tracked. One scale is enough.

You have to make some changes. Start almost anywhere.

In addition to sugar snap peas, cukes and edamame, there are lots of wonderful veggies that you can eat raw besides boring old carrot and celery sticks. Fennel, raw green beans, kohlrabi, Jerusalem artichokes, jicima, sweet bell peppers of all colors, radishes, yellow summer squash and zucchini.

JLeslie's avatar

Are you failing to eat well during the day? Not eating enough calories? And, then at night you snack on high calorie foods? If so, one thing you can do is eat better during the day. Meaning more calories and healthy foods. Sometimes this doesn’t work, because some people still continue to eat late at night out of habit. But, most people I know who snack late say things like, “I’m never hungry when I wake up.” So all the meals are sort of pushed back a few hours.

However, if you are just eating eating eating all day, always hungry, that could be a physical condition if it is a new thing. I am ravenous when I am overmedicated for my thyroid.

As for healthier snacks. Stop buying the junk. If it is not in your house you can’t eat it. Try apples which can be filling and have a nice crunch. We are just moving into apple season in the northern latitudes. Carrots, fresh green beans, rice cakes, cucumbers, cereal.

Kardamom's avatar

First things first. Go through your fridge and pantry and ditch all of the fattening and unhealthy triggers such as chips and sugary or salty snacks, cookies, ice cream, candy (except small portions of dark chocolate) crackers with refined flours and excess sodium (pretty much any cracker that is not listed as 100% whole grain), cheese or modified cheese products and any kinds of highly processed meat products like beef jerky, bologna, salami, pastrami and the like. Replace the meats with non-nitrate containing sliced turkey or chicken.

Forget about cheese for a long, long time (I have yet to find a non-fat or vegetarian cheese substitute that was worth the time and price to eat it, even though I am a vegetarian) Ditch any breads that do not list 100% whole grain as the first ingredient. And never, ever, ever drink soda. Not even the diet kind. There’s plenty of problems associated with even diet soda. Just don’t go there. It’s a gateway temptation to other bad things.

You can enjoy your sliced raw veggies (carrots, zucchini, red or yellow bell pepper, celery, radish, cucumber, celery, jicama, turnip, broccoli cauliflower etc.) with Non-fat Yogurt Onion Dip

Eat a small handful (a quarter of a cup or less) of un-salted roasted nuts or seeds such as peanuts, cashews, walnluts, pecans, pisatachios, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds.

Dole out your snacks into pre-measured containers of grape tomatoes, grapes, berries, fresh pineapple chunks, watermelon, sliced citrus fruit. When the urge hits you, grab one of your pre-measured containers.

Make half or quarter sized sandwiches that are heavy on the lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. Use lower fat, non-nitrate turkey or chicken and use mustard or horseradish as a condiment instead of mayo. Or use non-cholesterol Vegenaise as a tasty substitute. Always use whole grain bread for sammies.

Ween yourself off of sugary and caffeinated drinks. Start learning to love (as I did as a small child) de-caffeinated, unsweetened fresh iced tea.

Instead of chips, try some dried soy beans like These or freeze dried fruits like these Dried Strawberries

One of my favorite snacks is raw, fresh English Peas in the Pod

Learn to appreciate the wondeful taste of air-popped popcorn without any gloppy butter or salt toppings. Learn to appreciate the real flavors of foods.

Enjoy the occasional baked potato with only Trader Joe’s Spicy Fat Free Black Bean Dip or some home made Pico De Gallo Salsa (this one has the delicious addition of pineapple tidbits).

Make some Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Make a small-sized bean burrito with non-fat refried beans, homemade salsa and shredded lettuce on a whole wheat tortilla.

Eat a half a cup or less of White Bean Hummus with raw veggies, or a small amount of whole wheat pita chips.

Enjoy a small bowl of a super-healthy nutrient dense and tasty salad like Raw Kale Salad With Root Vegetables or Cilantro Lime Quinoa

In other words, make your meals vegetable-centric and whole-food centric and cut out all of the sugar/salt/preservatives that you can. Eat small and sensible sized snacks. Prep your snacks in to small individual sized servings beforehand instead of waiting until you are hungry and desperate. Learn to enjoy and embrace healthy, delicious foods that you may have never tried, or avoided because you were unfamiliar with them.

Make a meal plan, including snacks, for yourself ahead of time. That way you don’t even need to think about it after the plan (and the foods) have been prepared and scheduled. You just grab and go. If you don’t already have these items, go this weekend to the store and select some small sized tupperware (or other fridge to microwave containers) as well as some small sized zip lock bags.

When you shop, wash and cut your veggie right away and put them into individual sized containers for easy access. Put a white board on your fridge and write down exactly what you plan to eat for the day (including snacks), and stick to your schedule.

Good luck, and if you need more help, don’t hesitate to ask : )

Sunny2's avatar

For encouragement, find a picture of someone that a bit more over weight than you are and put your head on her (not someone who who is off the chart heavy, but more what you can imagine happening to you next.) Post it on the refrigerator to remind you of what you are trying to prevent. Then eat your veggies and feel better about your self. Good luck and check in here with your progress if you think it will help.

DaphneT's avatar

After all the wonderful substitutions advice above, this may come as outside the norm. Before you try to cold-turkey your way out of snacking, teach yourself to be mindful of what you are doing. Grab your favorite journaling tool: pencil, pod, pad, tablet, etc and doodle your feelings when you get the cravings. Ask yourself what you really have a taste for. Is that item in your cupboards? Do you have to go get it from somewhere? Then give yourself permission to eat that item until your feel satisfied. Repeat as necessary. You will notice that you have taken control of what you do and will be able to enjoy the substitutes more fully.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Congratulations on giving up smoking!

I wonder if this is just a matter of breaking old habits. Isn’t part of the pleasure of smoking doing something with your mouth? Is it possible that food has become its substitute? If you can break the habit of associating TV with a food treat, that might be the bulk of the battle. How about attempting to limit food consumption to sitting at a kitchen or dining room table or banning it from the bedroom?

Another challenge is that most healthy snacks can take more prep time and possibly clean-up. If they are prepared earlier in the day, that may help out. Portion control is another factor. Instead of taking the whole bag of chips out, put some in a smaller container and use will power to limit consumption to that amount.

One final thought: Feeling hungry at 7pm may be a conditioned response to TV time, but then again, it may not. What time do you typically eat dinner? If it is early, then maybe you can eat a healthy and filling snack in the afternoon and bump up dinner time to 7pm.

Most importantly, this isn’t about your actual weight, but your health and well-being.

Aster's avatar

@Kardamom great suggestions esp about the dip. I Must buy that !! Far as sodas go, I almost never drink soda of any kind. I do however drink cold green tea & milk.
I will never sit at my dinette at night and snack. Is this what people do? I thought most people snacked while watching tv at night. I don’t eat from 7pm until 9pm but in that timeframe. lol

gailcalled's avatar

” thought most people snacked while watching tv at night.” These broad assumptions are dangerous, unprovable. and again, don’t help you much. (It is true, more and more Americans are becoming morbidly obese.)

You need to focus only on you and your behavior. Are you saying at 9:00 PM prompty you load up on snacks and get into bed?

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t know what most people do. I don’t watch TV. I do often snack at night, while reading or at the computer. But it’s not on any set schedule. Last night it was celery at about 10:30. Sometimes it’s fruit, sometimes chips or cheese and crackers. It’s not always a healthful choice, I admit. Environmental control is harder when you share your premises, including your kitchen and your pantry.

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