Nocturnal munching is something that puts you off every time you do it, especially if you are on a weight loss regime and yet you fail to control it. You are not alone if you feel like devouring your refrigerator in the middle of a night and feel guilty immediately. Midnight sugar attack is the most common and most harmful at the same time. Sugar cravings reach their pinnacle during the night time, making you feel hungrier. It is also a time wherein when you start eating, you eat ravenously. If not stopped, this can have negative and unwanted effects on your body in the form of weight gain.
Even if you can’t go to bed without giving in, choose the food wisely. Instead of the sweet or junk food that you crave, go for healthier substitutes that may not be as harmful during that time. These late-night cravings are a perfect example of everything that is wrong with the modern lifestyle and how it gives way to an unhealthy eating pattern. To overcome midnight cravings, it is important to delve into the causes.
- As per one study, the body’s internal clock is responsible for instilling a desire for sweet or salty foods at night. This makes sense considering how it is only at night that we usually want to eat pizza, burger, or a red velvet cake! It is more like an addiction.
- Some doctors believe that an imbalance in “four hormones of the apocalypse” is one of the causes that leads to such unwanted cravings. Hunger is controlled by insulin and ghrelin. It is because of them that you know you want food. Leptin and peptide yy signal you to stop eating when you are full.
- If insulin and ghrelin overpower you, then leptin and peptide yy cannot lose their property to make you stop eating. Furthermore, cortisol, the stress hormone also leaves an impact on your appetite apart from these four.
Also, there are some psychological causes for the ill-timed cravings-
Poor nutritional intake is another of the reasons. Consuming heavy meals never helps if what you are eating is not high in nutrients. Your body will not feel satiated and you will end up feeling hungry. Having hefty amounts of carbohydrates and sugar is not considered healthy by doctors because they do not make up for the dearth of essential proteins, fibers, and fats. Fibers are healthier since they can provide sugar stability, which can keep you full for a longer period of time.
Those suffering from Night Eating Syndrome (NES) experience lower appetite in the morning and even throughout the day for that matter but feel hungrier at night. This also results in insomnia as they find it difficult to sleep without satiating themselves. This feeling eventually compels you to eat more and hence increasing the risk of weight gain bordering on obesity. Night Eating Syndrome includes symptoms like:
- Eating large amounts (25% or more) of your total daily food after dinner.
- Waking up in the middle of the night to eat.
- Not feeling hungry in the morning, but feeling starved at night.
- Problems getting to sleep
Having an irregular meal pattern takes a toll on the overall well-being of the body. Naturally, eating meals at regular intervals is healthy for the body and its metabolism. It can maintain the blood sugar levels throughout the day and can also put a stop to those midnight pangs of hunger. Inculcating healthier eating habits will definitely keep midnight cravings at bay.
Today most people believe that dieting goes hand in hand with willpower and that without it, you cannot accomplish your goals. This idea, however, is flawed. Dieting is not about willpower but healthy habits. When you try to starve yourself all day long owing to your “willpower”, you become vulnerable to a cave at night and thus the cravings get the better of you.
How to Tackle Midnight Cravings
Stop binge-watching shows and movies
- Want to Netflix and chill? I say resist the temptation because complementing it with food becomes a ritual. You cannot just watch something and not eat junk.
- Binge-watching is also inimical as it throws off your internal clock.
Go to bed earlier
- This is an extension of the aforementioned point.
- When you have a good night’s sleep, you are properly rested and you are more likely to make better food choices.
Flex your mental muscle
- Try to distinguish between what you crave and what you should have. Understand that it is all in your mind!
- Tell yourself that your craving is just a thought distracting you from achieving what you set you to.
- This small mental exercise will kill the urge to eat at night.
Modify your diet
- Incorporate more protein, good fats, and fiber during the day and you won’t find yourself obsessing over sweets or salty foods(junk) at night.
- Insoluble fiber keeps you full while soluble fibers, protein, and fats keep your blood sugar stable. Try to reduce sugar and simple carbohydrate consumption as they increase your blood sugar levels.
- Thus, modifying your diet can always help in not feeling hungry at night.
Have a glass of water instead
- Keep a bottle of water next to your bed. Drink water whenever you feel the urge to eat something.
- If water is not doing the trick, then you can drink tea. It is always better than having an entire food item. Also, if you have chamomile tea, it helps big time. You can easily go to sleep.
Best Snacks to Satisfy Your Midnight Cravings
- Banana with almond butter
- Pumpkin seeds
- Protein Smoothie
Basically, eating a snack under 200 calories is safe. Many of these snacks also contain sleep-supportive compounds, namely tryptophan, serotonin, melatonin, magnesium, and calcium.
If you are one of those people struggling to overcome midnight cravings, then the suggestions mentioned above might be helpful for you. It is perfectly fine to eat something but the night is a time when it can turn into overeating and you wouldn’t even know! So, it makes all the sense to avoid eating late at night in the first place.