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What to do Instead of Overeating When You’re Tired and You Want a Treat

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If you are an emotional eater or someone prone to overeating, you know well that it’s one thing to decide to change your eating habits—to cut back your portions, stop snacking in the evening, or to stop turning to food at the end of a long day. It’s another thing entirely to act on your intentions and not overeat when you find yourself in the situation where that’s all you want to do.

Many women find themselves using food as a treat, or resorting to stress eating or comfort eating at the end of a long difficult day. In fact, for most people, this is the time when good intentions unravel.

Why? Well, you’re tired, your defenses are pretty low, and you likely don’t have a lot of energy or creativity to conjure up an alternative to that big bowl of popcorn or ice cream or the leftovers that are calling to you from the refrigerator.

Relying on willpower alone is a recipe for self-sabotage and frustration. Plus, it’s not very fun. If evening is a tough time for you food-wise, I recommend you take some time NOW to sketch out a list of things you can do instead of eating.

Here’s an important tip: this list should not be a to-do list of projects you’ve been neglecting in disguise. If you’re turning to food for comfort or to help you relax, the alternatives you come up with should have a similar effect and they should take into account your low energy level (i.e. your exhaustion).

Make a list now and start trying out these new strategies. Expect to tweak and revise it as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Here are some ideas of what to do instead of overeating in the evenings to get you started:

  • Take a bath
  • Soak your feet (really—this feels great)
  • Blow bubbles
  • Brew a cup of tea
  • Listen to music
  • Watch a movie
  • Sit outside (or if it’s cold, by a fire)
  • If you have a cat who will let you, pet him/her and be one with the purr
  • Curl up with a good book
  • Update your Netflix list or put some new books on hold at the library
  • Buy yourself some new music for your mp3 player
  • Call a friend
  • Play Scrabble or chess or even solitaire online. Better yet, get your family to play a game—live and in person
  • Catch up on magazines
  • Do a crossword puzzle
  • Work on your birthday wish list (no matter how far away your birthday is)
  • Listen to a relaxation CD

I’d love to hear what you’ve found as an alternative to eating when you are tired and want to overeat.

I have insomnia and find myself wanting to eat late at night. Two things I learned to do.

1. Come here to LBT and read.

2. I'm not good at it, but I'm doing it, crochet a blanket while listening to TV or music. Some communities have worry dolls to project their worries upon, to rid themselves of worry. I have a worry blanket!

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Water or Decaf coffee work for me. When I am craving or wanting that bedtime snack I brew a cup of decaf or fix a ice cold cup of water and sip- once I am done with that I feel full and don't want anything else. If I am really hungry I find a healthy snack- some times it's just a teaspoon of low sodium, low fat Peanut Butter. It takes a while to eat plan PB and by the time I am finished I don't want anything else.

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Sometimes just getting out of the house and going somewhere helps me. I usually go to a clothing store, you dont want to eat when you are looking at clothing!

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