Food cravings at night
Food cravings at night can be incredibly stressful. I have never craved kale or broccoli late at night. Have you? Once 9.30pm rolls around, my stomach (or head) will disregard the past 13 hours and convince me I really, really need Whittekas chocolate at that exact moment.
What is even happening?
I had dinner. I was actually full. But I kept catching myself standing in front of the pantry – wishing for the chocolate I don’t even have. Ahhhh these food cravings again! I was frustrated and even angry with myself.
I did the research…
Following my frustration around these night cravings, I went on to do some research. I tried and tested various approaches to help myself (and eventually of course my clients) to beat late-night cravings. Some of the strategies I read about were distracting yourself by brushing your teeth. Another was standing in front of the mirror NAKED and realize you don’t need that extra snack. (What the?)
I don’t know about you, but I have never felt the need to drop my PJs in the middle of a movie with my boyfriend. Hhmm – maybe he would have liked it 😅
There must be a better way!
I was sure there were better ways than getting naked, listening to music, or waking a friend in the middle of the night to have a chat.
So, why do we crave food at night?
One study suggests the reason we crave more sweet, salty or starchy foods at night is due to our body’s internal clock. Essentially, this urge helped our ancestors store energy to survive longer in times of food scarcity. Whilst it might have helped our ancestors, it surely didn’t help me with my health, weight, and well-being goals.
So, I made it my mission to find a solution to my late-night food cravings. Through research and trialing various methods, I have found approaches (that work!) to end night time cravings.
Here are 5 ways stop craving food at night
1. Modify your diet
- Firstly, if you eat a lot of sugar and processed carbohydrates throughout the day – you will crave more at night (ancestral brain)
- Secondly, eat enough calories (if you don’t eat enough, your body will want to catch up in the evening)
- Third, consume foods that stabilise your blood sugar (more about that here)
- Next, eat balanced meals (balanced diet framework). Make sure you eat enough during the day – incorporate good sources of protein, fat, and fibre.
- Finally, eat regularly and don’t skip meals
2. Avoid long gaps between dinner and bedtime
Try to eat your dinner a little bit later so you go to bed within the next 3 -4 hours. In general, throughout the day, I suggest eating every 3 -4 hours.
3. Rest is critical!
- Get enough sleep (7-9 hours)
- Ensure you are having quality sleep
- Reduce your stress levels with more rest (and even naps!)
- You crave less food when you are rested and calm
- Practice Mindfulness tools, that will help your nervous system to calm and and change your focus from food
4. Plan your night-time snacks
There is nothing wrong with eating after dinner, unless it affects your sleep. If generally, you are ok with some food after dinner, pre-plan your snacks and make healthy choices. If you want to lose weight, just remember it’s about how many calories you consume altogether. Make sure you have healthy snacks you enjoy – and keep these on-hand at home. Ultimately, listen to what your body likes and enjoys.
Some good snack ideas: (think fiber, protein, and healthy fats)
- I personally enjoy apple slices
5. Habit and routine
If eating at night is part of your habit and routine, acknowledge the pattern you go through and plan something else (in addition to your habit). If your pattern is watching TV – do other activities alongside watching a show. For example, drawing, painting, painting my numbers or knitting, etc. That will occupy your mind. You might change up your routine and instead of watching TV, you could do something fun, relaxing like taking a bath or chatting with your partner. The other night, I gave my partner a massage, that gave us both something else to do 🙂
Ultimately you need to break the routine and habit – and consciously create a new one that works for you.
Food cravings at night – free guide
For more suggestions to break night-time food cravings, download the guide below. It is a night-time survival guide where I give more suggestions around routine and curbing the cravings. It has also helped my clients achieve positive results!
BEAT NIGHT TIME BINGE EATING
SIMPLE YET POWERFUL ACTION STEPS
- Learn the reasons for binge eating and overeating at night time.
- Understand what to eat and how much to eat so that you don’t binge at night time.
- Address the root cause of why you feel addicted to food to heal from inside out.
- Eat flexibly without restrictions and restrictive food rules.