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.

People get to bed and there's downtime and that's when they want to eat, says Hand, a registered dietitian at, 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 healthy eating plan all day, but at night they're ravenous.

“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 [p.m.], 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.


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

– 3?4 cup sugar-free and fat-free hot chocolate and four 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 1 cup of sparkling water

– Two low-fat graham crackers and a can of Diet Coke

– One single-serving container of fat-free chocolate pudding with 2 tablespoons of Cool Whip Lite

– Five saltine crackers with one ounce of cheese

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

– One ounce of pretzels and 8 ounces of vegetable juice

– One ounce of reduced-fat Pringles potato chips

– 1?4 cup low-fat granola cereal with 1 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 of a small bagel with 2 tablespoons of fat-free cream cheese and chopped vegetables of your choice

– 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

Sources: SparkPeople registered dietitian Becky Hand and veteran dieter Kathy Manweiler

© 2006, The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.).

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.