Night cravings are surprisingly common. For many people, cravings set in at night-time and healthy eating gets thrown out the window. It makes sense. You are exhausted from work. You might feel stressed. The kids won’t settle and overwhelm sets it. You begin to look forward to having food once everyone is asleep. Or perhaps night-eating is just a habit you can not seem to shake? This blog will first discuss WHY we tend to crave at night and then give 3 ways to STOP night-time cravings.
Why Do We Get Night-Time Cravings?
So, what triggers the late-night snack cravings? One of the reasons is biological. If we think about hunter-gatherer times, we would hunt during the day and relax at night. While the urge to eat more in the night assisted our ancestors’ store energy to survive longer in times of food shortages, our current culture of high-calorie food makes these late-night snacks futile. Second, we also might be craving sugary foods for emotional reasons, as it rewards our brain the same way drugs do. Other reasons for night-time cravings might be blood sugar fluctuation, food choices you made during the day, not enough calories or hormonal.
Be Gentle With Yourself
It is important to be gentle with ourselves if we experience night-time cravings. Remember, there is an actual biological reason why our body is craving at this time. Nothing is wrong with you. You are not lacking willpower. It is because our body is doing what it did to survive for many many years. BUT, if you feel uncomfortable, or feel you are eating too much or it is affecting your sleep – you might want to change night eating patterns. This blog will help you do this! Critically though, it is important to remember to give yourself permission to eat if you are actually hungry…
Let’s give ourselves permission to eat (mindfully) if we are legitimately hungry after dinner. If you are hungry, then eat something! We need to shut down the negative self-talk of “I shouldn’t be eating anything after dinner”. Let’s give ourselves permission to eat, but explore healthy options. So, instead of sugary cake, try the following options:
- Fruit salad with cream (cream also balances your blood sugar)
- Frozen banana pieces (this is my personal favorite)
- Nicecream (blend frozen banana, strawberries and vanilla essence)
- Yogurt with berries
- Frozen yogurt popsicles (freeze yogurt in containers with a stick or spoon).
3 Ways to To Reduce Night-Time Cravings
1] Stabilize Blood Sugar
It is critical to keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day. This means incorporating a balanced diet (check out my Balanced Diet Framework for exactly what to eat). In a nutshell, a balanced diet involves incorporating protein and fat in every meal. And ideally, some amount of good carbohydrates for breakfast and lunch.
Breakfast might be protein and fats (poached eggs and avocado/eggs and bacon/peanut butter on toast). For lunch, you want to have protein and fat, with vegetables as your main and carbohydrates on the side (a handful). Dinner we want to have protein, vegetables, and some fat. Add some carbohydrates if you find yourself craving them by not adding them to your meals or if you exercised that day. Choose complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, etc. For snacks, I suggest to have fiber and fat, for example, this could be apple slices with almond butter. Keeping our blood sugar balanced in this way, we minimize potential night-time cravings. (Read more about blood sugar here)
2] Have Enough Protein and Fat for Dinner
Insufficient protein and fat for dinner can cause us to crave. Sometimes if I crave, I check in with my body. I realize I actually feel full and ate enough, but there is a niggling feeling of needing something. When this happens, we tend to go through the cupboard and start looking. Standing and staring, but not knowing what we even want! Most of the time, we just need a little bit of fat. For example, a teaspoon of full-fat yogurt or a teaspoon of avocado. You might find that hits the spot, as this is the usual culprit for me and my clients.
3] Other Ways to Comfort Yourself
Eating might be your way to relax. I hear this very often with clients. For example, many mums understandably say “I am coming from work, and I am so stressed, then I am cooking and washing, helping with homework and then once I put them into bed it is like …that is my time now. I might go to the kitchen and treat myself because I had such a hard long day.” Is this familiar to you too? If so, try and think of other ways to comfort and soothe yourself. There is an abundance of ways to relax and treat ourselves, and food is only one.
For me, these are my ‘go-to’ when I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed and need some zen time:
- going for a walk
- a hot bath with essential oils
- reading a good book
- watching a chick flick on Netflix
- chatting with a friend
We can find freedom with food. If I can, you can too! With eating balanced meals, ensuring you eat enough calories during the day, whilst cultivating mindfulness; we begin to enjoy and live life more. I want you to imagine this. Imagine you are treating yourself without feeling guilt and shame afterwards. You wake up in the morning and feel good because you did not overeat and you had a good sleep. Imagine that. Because food did not control you. For exactly what to eat to reduce binging and cravings, check out this blog “What Food To Eat To Reduce Binge Eating and Cravings – The Balanced Diet Framework”
Or download my FREE NIGHT-TIME SURVIVAL GUIDE to get through the night without binge eating.
Night Time Survival Guide
HOW TO GET THROUGH THE NIGHT WITHOUT BINGE EATING
Ditch night time binges. Feel in control and live a life fueled by freedom instead of diets, weight, and food obsession. Finally step off the yo-yo diet roller coaster for good.
With this Guide you will …