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Evening snack can help curb cravings

It's not easy to escape cravings when you're trying to lose weight.

For many people, those temptations are wide awake when night falls, and Becky Hand knows what it's like to fight the munchies after dinner.

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"Those kids get to bed and there's downtime, and that's when I want to eat," says Hand, a registered dietitian at SparkPeo ple.com, a diet and fitness Web site. "It is not hunger at all - it is strictly a stress reliever."

Many people tell Hand that they can stick with a healthful eating plan all day, but at night they're ravenous.

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"Some people save calories earlier in the day because they're afraid of what nighttime might bring," Hand says.

Hand says that's not the best approach. It's important to spread calories throughout the day so you never get incredibly hungry. She recommends dividing the day's calories into three meals and a couple of snacks.

"If you eat too many calories at night, plan that evening snack," she says.

Hand takes her own advice, and that planning pays off for her.

"I know if I said I wasn't going to eat after 6, that would be terribly difficult for me," Hand says. "It would feel like a punishment. So I have a list on my refrigerator of snacks that have about 150 calories - some nutritious, some not so nutritious."

Hand's list includes snacks in several categories like salty, sweet or crunchy, so she can have some of whatever she's craving that night.

"I didn't deprive myself, but I didn't sit down and eat the whole bag of chips," she says.

Limited-calorie options

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Need some 150-calorie snack ideas? Give these a try:

3/4 cup sugar-free and fat-free hot chocolate and 4 vanilla wafers

A medium blueberry muffin (2 ounces) and 1 cup of green tea

1 Fudgesicle

4 bite-size Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies and one cup of sparkling water

2 low-fat graham crackers and a can of Diet Coke

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16 reduced-fat Wheat Thins with one Laughing Cow light cheese wedge

1 ounce of pretzels and 8 ounces of vegetable juice

1/4 cup low-fat granola cereal with one cup of fat-free, artificially sweetened vanilla or fruit yogurt

3 cups of air-popped popcorn and 1/2 cup of orange juice

1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese with 1/2 cup canned peaches

Trail mix containing 1/2 cup Wheat Chex, 1 tablespoon of raisins and 1 tablespoon of peanuts

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Sources: Registered dietitian Becky Hand and veteran dieter Kathy Manweiler


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