Diet Detective: When Are You Overeating?

Do you know when you consume the most calories every day?

Many people have these so-called eating alarm times—a specific point during the day when up to 300 extra calories are consumed. These eating alarm times, which typically occur once a day such as before dinner or during the afternoon, can lead to weight gain.

Knowing when these times are—and why they happen—is key to creating a livable, healthful diet. Eliminating just one eating alarm time can lead to substantial and sustained weight loss.>/p> asked 190 people to vote on their eating alarm times. Here are the most popular times cited and a few tips for combating cravings at these crucial times.

More: Common Food Cravings and What They Mean

Time: Prime-time TV snacking hours (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.)

Percentage who said this is their eating alarm time: 31 percent

Problem: This can be the most difficult time of day for people. Either you're a kitchen lingerer or you're sitting in front of the television mindlessly munching on unhealthy foods. This is a hard habit to break because the act of sitting down and watching TV triggers your desire for snacks.

Solution: Buy snacking alternatives. For example, swap a bowl of chips for a low-calorie version like carrots and dip or homemade sweet potato chips. Don't forget to portion it out in a dish, bowl or baggie and put the rest away. Here are a few other strategies to follow if this is your eating alarm time:

  • Eat only at the kitchen or dining room table. Consider all other areas of your home snack-free zones.
  • Don't munch on snacks while commercials are on—use that time to take a break.
  • No picking at food while standing in front of the fridge, and no digging into the half-gallon of ice cream with a spoon. If you want ice cream, scoop it into a dish first.
  • Wash the dishes, turn off the lights, and consider the kitchen closed for the night after dinner.
  • Prepare healthy snacks in advance.
  • If you're not a portion-control person, meaning you have a hard time eating small portions, don't try to limit yourself because you'll eat more calories in the end. Instead, choose low-calorie alternatives, even a second healthy dinner, made of mostly healthy protein.

More: How to Determine Your Ideal Meal Frequency

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