Nixing the late night nosh

Now and then many of us enjoy having a late-night nosh, but drifting through the kitchen to snack after dinner can add unnecessary calories to your day. Here are some ways to cut back.

  • If possible, close the kitchen every night after dinner. If that's too difficult, start with one or two nights a week. Or work backward hour by hour from your bedtime — that is, close the kitchen by 10 p.m. if you go to bed at 11. Add another night, or cut back another hour per night, every week.
  • When you finish clearing up after dinner, go brush your teeth to signal your body that you're done eating for the night. If you have a kitchen door, shut it. Some people go further by taping it shut (or run a strip of tape across an open doorway). Any physical barrier that you need to remove will do — a heavy chair, for example.
  • If you find yourself ready to break the tape or toss aside the chair, slow yourself down with this four-step process taught at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine:
  1. Stop: Consciously call a time-out.
  2. Breathe: Take a few deep breaths to help relieve burgeoning tension.
  3. Reflect: Ask some questions. Why did I want to close the kitchen at night? Why do I feel the urge to eat right now?
  4. Choose: Decide how to handle your urge. Could you satisfy it in another way? For example, take the dog for a walk, do push-ups till you're tired, curl up in bed to read a book, call friends, hop in the shower, get caught up in a TV show, or try a stress relief technique like a body scan.

For more strategies on living a healthier ,more satisfying life, buy Simple Changes, Big Rewards, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.