Fend off the 4pm Munchies

I battled the 4pm munchies for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried many things to fend it off, but in the end the best advise I got was to just go with it. Not go with it as in give in to visions of chocolate and french fries, but rather go with my body’s natural inclination to want food that time of day.

When it comes to eating at certain times, I found that eating six small meals a day and listening to my body’s natural clues works by far the best for me. It helps even out my energy levels, make me perform at my best and prevent overeating. I’ve tried skimming on snacks to loose extra pounds for years, but somehow it always turned on me: Never mind how big a plate of food I had at lunch time, by 4pm I would be wrestling with my cravings.

Now, I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve heard this same complaint from my working friends. A dear friend informs me that she hits the vending machine, every day, promptly at 4pm. What baffles her is that her days always go so great at first: Cereal for breakfast, sub sandwich or salad for lunch, and then boom! round about 4pm she throws all caution in the wind, head for the vending machine and gobble up a few candy bars.

For some of us who work from home the munchies can be ever so real. Never mind what you’re working on, being it the never ending laundry, lovin’ on those little ones, or typing away at your laptop, you are not immune.

The smart people tell me that it is important for our health and mental well being to keep our energy level steady. This can truly only be achieved by eating small amounts of healthy food, frequently. So diets, starvation, binging and overeating all sends us on a roller coaster ride that will put Six Flags to shame. Energy levels go up and come crashing down, emotions fly all over the place and our health is in serious danger.

So maybe you want to join me and “go with it” for a while. Follow your body’s signals, be ready for those 4pm munchies with snack that you love but that can also help to even out your energy level.

My favorite 4pm snack for the last few months has been my own version of Tiramisu. I pour a little bit of fresh decaf coffee in a fancy bowl, add some granola (the good kind made with oats and honey) add a few pecan nuts, a dollop of low fat vanilla yogurt, and on a special day, a squirt of light whipped cream. I sit down, put my feet up and give in to the 4pm munchies, and what do you know, afterward I can actually fold some laundry, type a blog, help with some high school math (not really) or jump trampoline with my two little “bundles of energy” before dinner!

Here’s a few Tips for you


1. Try drinking water, you might just be dehydrated

2. Get moving! Exercise is another great source of energy, and you might just be bored or in need of some fresh air. Going to the gym at 4pm actually helped me overcome huge carb cravings for a season

3. Make sure that you add enough lean protein and whole grain to your lunch meal, otherwise you will be starving just a couple of hours afterward

4. Check yourself to see if something upset you or made you anxious. Try lying on your bed or sitting in your favorite chair with music on. Talk to God or just wait in His presence. Your craving might have nothing to do with hunger after all

5. If this keeps happening every day, wise up, your body might need nutrition that time of day. Rather plan ahead to have a light mid-afternoon meal daily, this will put you at ease and prevent overeating at lunch time

6. You might simply be exhausted and a power nap (15-20 minutes of sleep) will perk you right up!

7. Make sure you really need to eat something, wait a few minutes, do something else that consume your thoughts, such as reading, talking to a friend or taking a long bath. The urge to nibble might just vanish!


1. Go grocery shopping when you have the munchies

2. Watch mid-afternoon TV. All the food commercials WILL bring on more cravings!

3. Eat a snack high in sugar, salt and fat. This will not satisfy you but rather increase your cravings and keep you grazing until bedtime (believe me, I know)

4. Move in the direction of the vending machine when the clock strikes 4!


Fresh or dried fruit
Low fat granola bar
Slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter and sliced banana! Yum!
Cereal with low fat milk
Vegetable/Bean soup
Pretzels and low fat string cheese
Low fat popcorn and a handful of nuts
Pitta bread with hummus

IF ALL ELSE FAILS TURN TO: Heleen’s Special “Tiramisu”

2 thoughts on “Fend off the 4pm Munchies”

  1. What a great article, Heleen. I am definitely among the mass that has those 4pm cravings! I’m a teacher, and this is the time I get home from school. I almost always ruin my dinner by overeating at this time. For me, I know what I really need is to unwind, not eat. Thank you for your suggestions. I always appreciate knowing I am not alone. You’re a true gem! 😉

  2. Heleen,

    I gave in to this YEARS ago. Yes, you must go with it and just plan for it like any other meal. I find also, that this coincides with a time my kids are famished too. So we have a big after-school family snack. We pop popcorn, get out chips and salsa, cut up apples and carrots…we make it healthy, but we all eat it togeter.

    Great post, girlie!!

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