Evening Treats

In session this week, my client Lisa told me she was struggling in the evenings. While she found it fairly easy to stick to her plan of healthy meals and snacks during the day, in the late evening (usually around 9pm) she was going into the kitchen and eating treats, telling herself, “It doesn’t matter.”

The first thing I asked Lisa was, “What’s in your kitchen? Do you have a lot of treats in the house right now?” Lisa said that she did. She had a lot of leftover holiday desserts, plus she loads up on groceries (including junk food) when she grocery shops, since she now goes less than usual. I told Lisa that having a house full of a variety of desserts would be hard for anyone, no matter how long they’ve been working on these things. The greater variety of treats there are, the more it tricks people into thinking they should eat.

Lisa said, “That’s true. When I think about having the ginger snaps I have planned, that doesn’t sound as appealing as all that other stuff.” I responded, “Exactly! But if ginger snaps were the only dessert you had in the house, chances are they would sound more appealing. You would eat them and feel satisfied.”People eating and drinking outside

Another reason having so many treats in the house was sabotaging Lisa was because whether or not she was fully aware of it, she was probably actively resisting eating them all day. The more times in a day she tells herself, “No, you can’t have that,” the more decision fatigue starts to set in, in addition to real fatigue in the evening! Saying “yes” starts to feel more reasonable.

I told Lisa, “It’s not as if your body tells you, ‘You said no ten times, so the eleventh time you can say yes and I won’t process the calories.’ Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Saying ‘no’ ten times doesn’t necessarily mean it’s okay to say ‘yes’ the eleventh time, especially if it’s not on your plan.”

Lisa and I discussed her thought, “It doesn’t matter.” I said to her, “Actually, I’m wondering if it’s just the opposite. I’m wondering if those late night decisions actually matter the most because by giving in in the evening and taking in too many calories, it’s stopping you from being able to lose weight. So, it does matter; it matters the most.” Lisa and I discussed that by staying on track all day but giving in late in the evening, it’s like she’s run 24 miles of a 26.2 marathon. It’s still a huge achievement, but she won’t get the finisher’s medal without the last 2.2 miles.

Lisa and I made some Response Cards for her to read in the evening, and we agreed on a three-part plan: First, she’ll get rid of most the treats in her house. Second, she’ll make a strong plan for what she’ll eat in the evening, and third, she’ll read Response Cards to remind herself exactly why it does matter.

6 replies
  1. Dorothy Dornfeld
    Dorothy Dornfeld says:

    This is exactly my problem too.
    My husband brings in lots of treats.
    I avoid them during the day, but at night I indulge.
    I want him to live with me, but I’ve spoken to him about not bringing treats into the house. He said he’d try to do better in the future.
    So that’s a good thing.
    I’ve decided to start to read my response cards at night as well as at the beginning of the day.

    Reply
  2. Oola
    Oola says:

    I find not snacking at night at all is a better strategy. I remind myself of the benefits of a longer overnight rest from food and keep also checking in to realize that I am sated from my delicious evening meal. (I purposely plan the meal for satiety.) But I admit that I live alone. I have read of other people having success with the mantra, “Not my food.” Not having them around of course is an advantage. I remind myself that slim cultures do not keep stashes of sweets around. They don’t do it out of fear. They just think of those foods as being part of specific meals in specific amounts and tend to prepare just that amount.

    Reply

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