SAYING GOOD NIGHT TO NIGHT-TIME SNACKING
Thursday, February 12, 2009.
Whether it’s your favourite soap, a re-run of Girlfriends or the fact that it’s getting dark outside earlier that has you parking yourself on the sofa more nights of the week, an evening in front of the TV can be a diet disaster.
Between the countless snack-food commercials tempting you to raid the cupboards, and the fact that TV viewing can lead to distracted eating (when your attention is diverted from your food, making you less likely to respond to your body’s signals of fullness), it’s no big surprise.
As a result, we run the risk of consuming very large numbers of calories and fat at one sitting - a behaviour that can have heavy implications on weight. In fact, in a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found that a large number of hours spent watching television correlated with a higher intake of calories and a higher body mass index (BMI) in women. The researchers concluded, “Access to televised entertainment may contribute to increasing obesity rates.”
While tuning out may be an effective way to stop snacking, it’s not the only solution. If you can’t miss your favorite sitcoms or that all-important match, use these tips to prevent making a mad dash for the kitchen during commercials:
Smart TV-Viewing Tactics:
Occupy yourself. Take up sewing, knitting or just sew those missing buttons back on! Spend the time giving yourself a manicure or take up a new handicraft. The idea is pretty simple: if your hands are busy, you’re less likely to use them to eat.
Move it along. Haul that treadmill or exercise bike out of the garage and put it smack bang in front of your television set. Or go for a more portable alternative and do toning exercises or lift light hand weights while you watch. Besides being too busy to eat, you may find that you’re exercising for longer periods when you’re distracted by the television. Instead of taking in excess calories, you’ll be burning them!
Fill up on good nutrition. Be sure to eat a satisfying dinner, which contains enough fibre to keep you full for several hours after eating. To boost the fibre content of your meals, start with a small bowl of lentil soup, add lots of veggies to your main meal or have a salad on the side. Fruit makes a great, filling dessert – try stewed apples or poached pears at this time of year.
Downsize. On occasions when you indulge in a higher-calorie snack, avoid eating out of the bag or box, since you can’t keep track of how much you are eating. Instead, measure out a serving size, put it in a bowl or plate and bring only that amount with you to watch TV. Promise yourself you won’t return to the kitchen for seconds. Even try splitting that serving size in two if you feel you must have seconds.
Take a commercial break. It’s not hard to become conditioned to returning to the kitchen for another handful of nibbles each time there’s a commercial break. Avoid being tempted by the barrage of ads for sweets and biscuits and use this time productively. At the end of each ad break, plan what you’ll do at the start of the next - maybe you’ll transfer clothes from the washing machine to the dryer, dust the living room or put away the kids’ toys. Whatever you decide to do, try to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible.
Lighter TV Bites Unfortunately, the snacks we choose at this time of day are often high in calories and fat, common culprits being crisps, biscuits, ice cream or fried tortilla chips. But if you trade the fattening fare for a light bite from your plan, you can enjoy a nibble without the weight worries – just save your snack or some food items from your plan to have in the evening. Other lower fat snack ideas include: twiglets and pretzels, baked crisps or tortilla chips, rice cakes, low fat dips or salsa with veggie sticks or low fat biscuits and skimmed milk.
And bag better beverages... Pass on fizzy drinks or sweetened juices, both of which pack tons of calories. Instead, drink water - flavoured with lime, lemon or orange if you wish, fruit and herbal tea or de-caff coffee. A low cal hot chocolate will tame that sweet tooth, too!