Dinner is an event. From dinner parties to dinner dates, we are often congregating around the final meal of the day in some semi-celebratory capacity. But even on more standard nights, dinner remains a staple for our health. The third and final meal delivers a necessary kick of nutrients, rounding out the day. Done right, it’s a dietary must. Done wrong, and you could face the effects of partaking in these worst dinner habits for your waistline.

We consulted nutritionist Joe Johnson, head of 9 to 5 Nutrition, and get his expert insight on some of the worst dinner habits you can have for your waistline. Read on to find out what to avoid when sitting down for that final meal of the day, and for even more helpful tips, be sure to check out our list of the 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.

small portion

When it comes to dinner, less is not more. The key here is managing your psyche first in order to then manage your waistline.

“If you start eating less at dinner, there is an increased tendency to feel you’ve got the right to continue snacking on sweet treats well into the evening when social pressures are more intense and willpower is lower,” says Johnson.

He continued to explain that this phenomenon can result in actually eating more calories at the end, which could negate weight loss efforts.

Fill your plate with these Healthy Dinner Foods Dietitians Say You Should Be Eating!

tomato soup

Although foods that are high in protein are sometimes higher in calories as well, if you’re looking to maintain a trim physique, those protein calories are a necessary inclusion in your diet.

“Protein is more filling than carbs or fat, and your body uses more energy digesting it, making it a very useful tool for weight loss.”

Unfortunately, though, many go-to dinners—think, mac n’ cheese, pizza, and some soups—have very little protein in them, so best to be mindful. According to experts like Johnson, protein should make up ideally one-third of your plate. Here are 17 Protein-Packed Dinners for Weight Loss.


There is something undeniably tasty and rewarding about dipping foods in other foods. Condiments can transform your dinner from average to excellent, from dull to zesty. But they also are capable of taking an otherwise healthy meal and turning it less so.

Johnson offered ranch dressing as an example: piling on a couple of scoops of that delicious addition can translate to an extra few hundred calories in your meal.

“This doesn’t mean you need to avoid condiments altogether, though,” he said. “A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything cream or mayo-based. Condiments like hot sauce or honey mustard are super tasty but don’t pack the calorie load of their creamy cousins.”

Here are The Worst Condiments You Should Always Leave on Store Shelves.

eating quickly

This is a health tip many of our moms have been imploring for ages, and according to Johnson, it is definitely not just an old wives’ tale. Eating slowly is imperative for weight management, because, as Johnson explains, your brain often doesn’t even register the feeling of fullness for up to 20 minutes.

“Scoffing your food down as quickly as possible will likely leave you wanting more,” he says. “Eat slowly to allow your brain to register that you have food in your gut, and avoid reaching for the sweet treats!”

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