10/08/2012 08:25 am ET Updated Oct 10, 2012

9 Ways To Knock Out Those Nighttime Munchies

By Keri Gans for U.S. News Health

As a registered dietitian, "Step away from the kitchen" isn't something I like to say often. Actually, I prefer for people to be in their kitchens, preparing lots and lots of healthy meals and snacks. But the truth is, many people are eating way too much after dinner. Maybe it's because they're bored, stressed from work, lonely, or simply do it out of habit. Either way, too many calories are being consumed, and the result is weight gain.

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When working with patients who are plagued by nighttime eating, the first thing I look at, though, is whether or not they're eating enough for dinner. Some admit they eat a very small dinner because they feel that no matter what, they're going to eat all night long. However, once we balance their dinner to include plenty of veggies, whole grains (such as barley, couscous, brown rice, and quinoa), and lean protein (fish, skinless poultry, tofu, and sirloin), some of them begin to eat less later on.

Others admit to eating hardly anything all day and then having a late dinner. Problem is, they're so starved that even after dinner is complete they can't stop eating. Once I get them to develop a healthy eating schedule, consisting of three meals per day, plus one to two snacks, the nighttime munchies do disappear.

Don't believe me? If it seems your nighttime munchies are here to stay, try one of these tricks.

Knock Out Nighttime Munchies

Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian, media personality, spokesperson, and author of "The Small Change Diet". Gans's expert nutrition advice has been featured in Glamour, Fitness, Health, Self and Shape, and on national television and radio, including The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, Primetime, and Sirius/XM Dr. Radio.

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