Snack attack!
September 28, 2008 8:24 PM   Subscribe

How do you deal with post-meal "hunger?" That persistent snacky feeling...

I find that often, after i eat a well-balanced meal (two veggies, a protein, a complex carb), in an amount to where I feel satisfied but not stuffed, about 20-30 minutes afterwards I will start to feel "snacky." Not hungry, exactly, sort of a feel of "yeah, I could eat something." This happens mostly after dinner.

This used to not be an issue, because I would just figure I was still hungry and have a snack or dessert. But I'm working at minimizing snacks and sweets in an attempt to lose weight. I am aiming to only have sweets a few times a week, as a special treat (as opposed to the everyday phenomenon they've turned into in my life). I'm trying to make it so that the only snack I eat is late afternoon, to keep me away from the vending machine on evenings I work late.

I've looked around on the internet, and read some of the relevant AskMe questions about this, but most suggestions seem to revolve around low-calorie snacks to meet this need. I'm looking for a way to get away from feeling like I should have a snack after dinner. Or else the person asking is trying to deal with real hunger, but this is not really a feeling of ravenous hunger, it's more a desire for a snack.

To answer questions that might come up: I eat about 1600-1800 calories a day, with 4-7 servings of fruits/veg each day, ample protein and fat to keep me sated (at least I think so). I drink lots of water, and it helps a bit. Also, I've only been trying this snack-minimizing regime for a few days, so it might just take some getting used to.
posted by lunasol to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I have a glass of ice water and then wait for ten or so minutes. That feeling you are asking about goes away on its own.
posted by parmanparman at 8:31 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I either drink some water or just ignore it.

I know with me, I was used to eating myself stuffed. So not doing that didn't feel right. Fast forward to now and my body knows that I'm not going to starve if I'm not constantly stuffed.
posted by theichibun at 8:32 PM on September 28, 2008

Best answer: You are probably fighting force of habit as much as anything, if you can go a week or so on your new regime it will start to become normal. Otherwise try and keep away from food! I like going for walks if it comes to that.
posted by tomble at 8:36 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have a cup of decaf vanilla tea. It gives you that dessert like taste with zero calories.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:45 PM on September 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

A cup of coffee or tea after a meal is always nice.
posted by pluckysparrow at 8:45 PM on September 28, 2008

alternately, maybe your body's telling you that you should be snacking—smaller meals but snacks through the day. grazing works for some people, maybe it'll work for you.
posted by lia at 8:46 PM on September 28, 2008

Best answer: It may help to remember the distinction between 'hunger' (which is a physical sensation) and 'appetite' (which is the desire or craving for food)...

Maybe your appetite could be met by non-food treats. I find when I have that snacky craving it is often due to boredom, tiredness or some emotional upset. So usually a hot bath, a nap, a phone call to a friend or some new task or project helps... easier said than done of course!

Cognitive behavioural therapy is quite good for this sort of thing, especially if you are having automatic negative thoughts (e.g. "I absolutely will die if I can't have some sugar", "I feel so deprived", "why can everyone else have dessert except for me" etc) that are sabotaging goals you want to achieve in your life. You can then assess how those thoughts are unrealistic / unhelpful and replace them with positive thoughts that you know to be grounded in reality.

Also, make sure you do have a proper treat (the real thing, not lo-cal alternative) fairly frequently, because nothing will make you feel more like bingeing than denying yourself all that stuff altogether!

If overeating is actually a major problem for you, Gillian Riley's book "Eating Less" is the most sensible, compassionate and helpful book I have ever read on this subject (...and I've read a lot of them...)

Good luck!
posted by Weng at 8:47 PM on September 28, 2008 [6 favorites]

water, tea (without sugar, and with low-fat milk), coffee (as before), exercise, a shower, a chewy sugar free confectionary, distraction, timing hunger desire (okay, I'm hungry now, let's see how long this takes until I don't notice it anymore - usually about 1/2 an hour - what can I say - I'm focused on my belly).

My worst choice at this time is to choose to do nothing because that usually sabotages me and I sit there thinking food, food, food.
posted by b33j at 8:47 PM on September 28, 2008

Oh and teeth cleaning.
posted by b33j at 8:48 PM on September 28, 2008

Chew gum. It's sweet, satisfies that desire to chew and contains negligible calories.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:51 PM on September 28, 2008

Cut back on some of the carbs and up the protein.

Start smoking.

Eat some dried fruit. Or celery.

Tea or coffee.

Iced water.

Chew on a toothpick.

Suck on a button. Or a lozenge.

posted by turgid dahlia at 9:02 PM on September 28, 2008

Brush teeth, drink water.

Lots of water. Seriously, your piss should be clear or close to it.
posted by squorch at 9:17 PM on September 28, 2008

Seconding the up the protein, lower the simple sugars.
posted by nat at 9:27 PM on September 28, 2008

I eat a carrot or an apple usually. I also have a little bowl of cough drops on top of the fridge and if I just need "something sweet" my basic deal is to chew on one of them.
posted by jessamyn at 9:28 PM on September 28, 2008

Drinking water is good advice. I'm trying it myself (mostly because college on a meal plan = not a lot of snack opportunity) and I'm liking Crystal Light for this purpose. The best flavors, imo, are the white grape and lemonade, made about half strength. They taste like food, but a large glassful has about 3 calories in it.
posted by MadamM at 9:28 PM on September 28, 2008

Have a hot drink (tea, coffee) AND something chewy and sweet, like a caramel. I picked up some chewable calcium supplements on sale a few weeks ago and find that they satisfy my cravings for a sweet while providing a nutrient I need.

Then rinse your mouth and brush your teeth. Floss if you can. Tea and coffee stain your teeth and you don't want sticky residue on your teeth from the candy. Plus that "clean mouth" feeling after brushing should help keep you away from other food for the rest of the evening.
posted by maudlin at 9:32 PM on September 28, 2008

I usually eat something when I'm hungry; I'm not sure why you're ruling that idea out. Fruit, for instance--healthy, delicious, full of vitamins, often full of fiber--is a traditional post-meal treat that gives our appestat the nudge into the "satiated" zone if it's not there yet. Your choices aren't "giant banana split" or "nothing" after all.

However, if you feel like you're not actually hungry, but acting out of habit or some kind of emotional response rather than a physiological need, a cup of delicious tea is always good. Or brushing your teeth with a delicious-tasting toothpaste.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:49 PM on September 28, 2008

To be fully satisfied, I need:

1. Animal protein (e.g. chicken, bison)
2. Slow carbs (e.g. beans and rice)
3. fast carbs (e.g., potato, healthy french fries, lots of fruit)
4. healthy fat (e.g. nuts and seeds)

I've found that if I'm missing any one of these, I'm just not going to be full for any length of time. It looks like you're pretty balanced, but maybe that will give you some ideas.
posted by zeek321 at 4:15 AM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I totally get the after meal "snacky" feeling too. I've tried for years to get over the sensation and have never successfully done so. What I do now is leave a bit of my dinner uneaten, and when it hits (about 20-30 minutes later) I finish up whatever I was eating for my meal. This has been working for me. I'm not eating anything more than I was going to anyway, and I get to have a snack that really isn't a snack at all and feel satisfied.
posted by Orb at 4:57 AM on September 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

Chewing gum, totally. It distracts the mouth and the mind.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:34 AM on September 29, 2008

It's a faint possibility it could be heartburn, but you are the only one who can judge that. Or try a couple of calcium antiacids and see if it goes away. It shouldn't take more than a few times to tell, if you decide it's worth doing the experiment.
Since nobody else mentioned it. (I get this.)
posted by unrepentanthippie at 7:08 AM on September 29, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks all. A few things:

To the people who suggest small snacks or wonder why I'm trying to cut out snacks: I am trying to untrain my body to expect a constant flow of food. It's not that I'll never eat snacks again, I would just like it to become a treat and not an expected thing.

Heartburn: pretty sure it's not heartburn, since I have experienced that, although it's diminished significantly by cutting certain foods out of my diet. I know the "heartburn hungry" feeling (it's awful) but this is different.
posted by lunasol at 8:47 AM on September 29, 2008

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