Plan meals to avoid overeating – Eat well and eat often, to ease cravings
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By Andrea Holwegner, For The Calgary Herald March 24, 2011

Lynette, a vice-president of sales, left the house early each morning and returned home late most days from her demanding job. This often meant she had trouble taking the time to eat breakfast and pack a lunch. Midmorning, Lynette would guzzle coffee to keep her energy up. Lunch was often missed, or was choices from a vending machine or eaten at a restaurant with clients.

By the time she got home from work, Lynette was in a state I call “homicidal hunger.” This happens when you feel so hungry and out of control that anyone standing between you and the fridge is definitely in the way. Instead of a healthy dinner, Lynette would unconsciously eat whatever was convenient, such as crackers, cookies, dried fruit, nuts and chocolate chips. The evening was full of snacks and emotional stress eating.

As a highly intelligent and overachieving person in her work life, Lynette was frustrated that she felt like such a failure when it came to losing weight and controlling her food choices.

But with a little planning, Lynette was able to improve her weight and develop a more positive relationship with food. Here is how she did it.

Fix the day

Trying to use willpower to avoid overeating in the evening will inevitably let you down. Instead, examine the direct connection between what you eat during the day and what you end up eating later.

Since Lynette ate the majority of her food after 6 p.m., she would go directly for comfort foods to boost energy and mood. Once she started eating, it was difficult to stop.

It was also hard to think about taking the time to cook a healthy meal, because she was so ravenous and wanted to eat immediately. This meant healthy parts of the meal such as veggies or protein, which usually require some preparation, were often missed.

Eat on time

To prevent a homicidal hunger attack, you need to ensure you are eating meals with both carbohydrates and protein throughout the day. Carbohydrates fuel your brain, while protein prolongs fullness. Make sure you are eating breakfast and then continuing to eat every three to five hours. If you need some healthy ideas, try these:


Whole grain wrap with nut butter rolled round a banana

Oatmeal, dried fruit and nuts

Whole grain toast, eggs and orange juice

Bran cereal with milk and berries

Muffin and a smoothie with milk, yogurt, banana and berries


Whole grain bun and tossed salad with chicken and vinaigrette

Tuna or salmon sandwich on whole grain bread served with vegetable soup

Chili, baked potato and tomato juice

Whole grain wrap with turkey/ham, cheese and loaded with veggies

Pasta with tomato meat sauce served with raw veggies and dip


Apple or pear with cottage cheese and cinnamon

Trail mix Bran muffin and glass/ carton of milk

Latte or tea latte and fresh fruit

Whole grain crackers, cheese and carrot sticks

Yogurt parfait with yogurt, berries and cereal

Raw veggies with hummus

Hard boiled egg(s) and whole grain crackers

Smoothie with milk, yogurt and fruit

Banana or apple with peanut butter or almond butter

Find comfort without food

While managing a balanced eating routine allowed Lynette to substantially reduce her night overeating habit, tuning in to the emotional reasons was harder. Ask yourself, “How can I comfort myself without food? Is there an enjoyable hobby, task or activity that I could do instead of turning to food?”

Lynette found using “delay and distract” techniques -such as waiting 15 minutes before giving into a craving and then distracting herself with nurturing tasks (listening to music, going for a walk or taking a bath) -was sometimes helpful.

A conscious effort to do just a little bit better will always move you closer to your goals.

Andrea Holwegner, “the chocoholic dietitian,” owns Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. Visit www.healthstandnutrition.com or call 403-262-3466 for information on personalized nutrition counselling, professional speaking and to subscribe to her blog or free monthly ezine.

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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