It’s tough to stick to a weight loss plan if you are constantly grazing. Stop eating between meals, and it will be easier to reach your health goals like losing weight.
Deciding to stop snacking all day, or stop eating after dinner can be difficult. Our modern food culture makes it so easy to eat constantly, especially between meals.
The Research of Limited Snacking
A small study showed the benefits of no snacking can lead to weight loss. (Journal of Nutrition source)
“Eating less frequently, no snacking, consuming breakfast, and eating the largest meal in the morning may be effective methods for preventing long-term weight gain. Eating breakfast and lunch 5–6 h apart and making the overnight fast last 18–19 h may be a useful practical strategy.”
My Grazing Habits
For me, one of the most difficult things was being able to END a meal and abstain from eating until the next meal.
After I had eaten a a full meal, or even when I was physically full, I could keep eating or snacking. I would continue eating while cleaning up the meal, eating food from my kids plates, and even grabbing something sweet like handfuls of cereal to end the meal with a treat.
In reflection, I can see the reward for me was to delay getting back to work or even just getting back to life’s responsibilities. It feels like a stress relief to just keep eating. Sometimes, it was just habit, but I know I enjoy the relaxed feeling of eating.
While I still struggle here, I’m much better about creating rituals and habits to end a meal in a healthy way, and move on with my day rather than nibble on food until the next meal. Below are some ideas that have helped me, helped other people, and just might help you!
15 Ways to Stop Eating After A Meal
- Clean the kitchen. If you enjoy a clean kitchen, and it can help you walk away from grazing, get busy. Creating a new ritual where you load the dishes from your meal, and wipe the counters, rather than grazing. Once the kitchen is clean,walk away and don’t return until the next meal.
- Don’t eat in the kitchen. Hear me out on this one, because It’s contrary to what I normally teach. I always say, eat in the kitchen, at a table so you can eat mindfully. Which worked for me for a long time. However, right now, I’m deep into some projects for this blog that get me really excited. So, if I take my plate of food to my office and eat it, I get right to work when the plate is done. If I eat it in the kitchen, I keep returning to the pantry or fridge for “one more bite”. If you aren’t excited about your work or a project, this won’t be as effective, but maybe think about switching up your meal patterns long enough to create new habits.
- Fill up your your favorite beverage. For decades, I could end a meal with a Diet Coke. It was enough to keep my distracted from the desire to keep eating. I have however given it up recently, so now I end the meal with Crystal light. I’ll get to water soon, but for now, it’s Crystal Light (baby steps!)
- Chew gum. I admit, sometimes I get carried away with this. I usually know I’ve eaten too much gum, because my gut will tell me. (too much sugar alcohols) But, If I can reign it in, I Love a good piece of gum after a meal. Keeping your mouth busy is sometimes the best defense against nibbling on leftovers. Have that gum ready to go, and chow down.
- Brush your teeth. I know this is common advice, but it’s because it works. You have to do it anyway, why not do it immediately following the meal. (or a squirt of Binaca if you are from the 80’s and don’t have your toothbrush handy!)
- Have an activity you are looking forward to (watching a show, taking a walk). If you aren’t looking forward to putting the kids to bed, or going to work, you are going to want to extend your meal as long as possible. But, if you have something you are looking forward to, it’s easier to walk away. I mentioned this is working for me because I’m excited about a project I’m doing, but if I have nothing, I tell myself I can watch some mindless celebrity gossip on YouTube until I’m ready to get back to work.
- Plate your entire meal and when you are done, there is no more food. If you think you’re going to overeat, or if you are eating from a container or bag, plating your meal makes sense. Everything on your plate you can eat, but once your meal is over, create obstacles to getting up for seconds or thirds.
- Buy single serving foods. This is never cost effective or even environmentally friendly, but some foods I do purchase in single servings to limit overeating. Once you take away the option to keep grazing on a food, because you’d have to open another package, it could be all you need to end the meal.
- Balance all macronutrients so your meal is satisfying. When you include protein, carbs, and fat at your meals, you are more likely to be satiated. Eliminating any food group, and I promise you’ll be scavenging your cupboards. Mentally, if I take out carbs, I’m always eyeing some sliced bread, just to feel complete. Physiologically when you remove protein or fat, the hormone signals that you are full often fail.
- Read after the meal. If you have a book you can’t wait to pick up and relax with, let it be your after meal reward. Snuggle up, grab your book, and chill on the couch while you read for 20 minutes and let your stomach get the signal that you are full.
- Journal after your meal. This can give you great insight into why you might be struggling with overeating or feel the need to always be snacking on something. (print 40 prompts for your food journal)
- Meditate after your meal. If you enjoy meditating, this could be something you could look forward to. If you have kids involved, create some family quiet time, prayer, scripture reading, or anything that is calming and connecting.
- Break the “sweet” ending to a meal by replacing it with veggies to end your meal. Snack on carrots or cucumbers for dessert!
- Keep your sweet habit, and always end the meal with a piece of fruit. This was something I saw in all of our Japanese exchange students. I had one tell me she ate dessert after every meal. Surprised I pressed for more info,and it turned out her idea of dessert was a piece of fruit!
- Drink lemon water. This puts a strange taste in your mouth that might curb the desire to graze. I usually don’t want to keep eating after this. Any other food that has the same effect, will work.
These 15 ideas to stop snacking between meals and have a defined and finite end to a meal can help in your attempts to stop grazing all day!
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