Have you ever had that feeling late at night when suddenly you have a massive craving for sugar?
It’s as if that chocolate bar you grabbed at the deli, or those random jelly beans you have in the kitchen completely take over your thoughts. No matter how much you try to shake the image of the food you are craving out of your mind, the image grows larger and more vivid. Within minutes, your stomach feels empty even though you just ate dinner an hour ago.
If this sounds eerily familiar to what you experience, you are not alone. In fact, everyone experiences food cravings at one time, or another, with some feeling it more frequently and more intensely than others.
The science behind overeating, hunger, and cravings is vast and can easily fill a book. Here are 7 tips for stopping food cravings at night:
1. Eat Balanced Options Throughout The Day
Often, late-night snacking is heightened because eating habits throughout the day are off balance. If you typically skip breakfast and sit down to your first meal at noon, alter your schedule to start the morning with a light meal. This will kick-start your metabolism earlier than usual and may lead to satiety throughout the day, so you don’t get those night cravings. Fill up with plenty of protein, fiber, and water during the day so you don’t feel the urge to backload calories before bedtime.
2. Drink Water
Water is not only very important for maximal fat loss and improved health, but it can also help prevent cravings. Oftentimes, our bodies have trouble differentiating between dehydration and hunger. Your body can trick you into thinking you will be satisfied with some more food when all you really need is a tall glass of water. When you feel a craving, drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes. The cravings may subside.
3. Eat Healthy Protein For Dinner
Often, food cravings are due to an energy "crash", due to not eating a substantial meal or one high in simple carbohydrates. Protein gives you long-term energy and can keep you full for a long time. While not all cravings are caused directly by hunger, a full belly can make them easier to resist.
4. Intensify Your Burn
In a study, performing a single short bout of moderately intense exercise—10 to 40 minutes in duration—improves areas of the brain that help with overall self-control. Likely that's because getting your heart rate up boosts blood flow and oxygen to the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is involved in decision-making and impulse control.
Anxiety and stress are two of the most common reasons why people eat when they aren't hungry. However, using food to curb your emotions is a bad idea. If you notice that you eat when you are anxious or stressed, try to find another way to let go of negative emotions and relax.
6. If You Do Eat, Free Yourself From Distraction
Sometimes, you really are hungry at night. Or in other cases, medical conditions such as diabetes keep you on a more regulated eating schedule. If that’s the case, choose your bedtime snack wisely — avoid added sugars, highly processed foods, high-fat foods, caffeine or alcohol that may make you toss and turn at night. Opt for a light snack with protein and fiber, like nonfat Greek yogurt and whole-wheat crackers or apple slices and peanut butter. Eat intentionally — put your phone down and enjoy the food rather than grabbing from a bottomless bag or eating right out of the container.
7. Flex Your Mental Muscle
Put some mental distance between yourself and what you crave. If it’s a bag of Swedish Fish, pause for a self-pep talk before you indulge. Tell yourself that your craving is “just a thought” and imagine “stepping away” from it. That two-second exercise gives cravings less power since you stop seeing the urge as something you “must have right now.
Nighttime eating has been linked to excess calorie intake, obesity, and poor health. If eating at night is a problem for you, then try the steps above to help you stop. In this post, I shared with you 7 tips for stopping food cravings at night.
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