How to Stop Night-Time Cravings
How often do we say to ourselves, “I’ve been so good all day” and then night-time comes and all that hard work goes out the window? Then the next day you start the cycle again, you are ‘good’ during the day and then night-time comes and you can’t stop eating, even after having a really big meal.
This pattern tends to be known as the sumo-wrestler diet because if you eat late at night (and just before bed), your body will store all those extra calories as fat instead of processing them and burning them.
In order to be able to put a stop to this pattern we need to understand WHY this is happening. WHY are we craving more food, more junk food or really just anything unhealthy? More often than not, the root cause of this problem is an imbalance in our appetite regulating hormones. These hormones each have their own triggers and therefore if we can understand how to balance them, then the cravings for sweet, junk food late at night will be eliminated.
The four main hormones are:
- Insulin – the main hormone our body produces to regulate blood sugar. When your insulin spikes then crashes after eating sugar and flour or junk, it makes you hungrier.
- Leptin – this is the hormone that tells our brains when we are full and to STOP eating. When you eat a lot of processed foods, sugar and refined flour, Leptin does not work as well.
- Grehlin – this is the hormone that tells us when we ARE hungry.
- Peptide YY – this is a hormone in our intestine that tells us when we are FULL.
We do also need to consider the hormone, Cortisol, which is our stress hormone. When you are stressed, your Cortisol level goes up, and when that happens, you get hungrier and your blood sugar and insulin levels rise.
Being able to balance these hormones and keep them in check will enable you to reduce those cravings and the night-time snacking that comes with it.
Here are 6 simple steps you can follow to take control of your cravings:
1. Eat breakfast – eating a protein rich breakfast is the KEY to stop your night-time cravings. Now, you may wake up in the mornings full from the late night snacking so it’s important that you break that cycle. This helps to keep your blood sugar levels balanced all day.
2. Don’t drink your calories – consuming high sugar drinks (soft drinks, juices, flavoured milks, energy drinks) spikes your insulin levels and increases your cravings for more sugary foods.
3. Eat regularly – eating your breakfast, lunch and dinner at regular times allows your hormones to remain balanced.
4. Have good quality protein and sources of fat with each meal – these foods are known to satisfy you and keep your blood sugar levels balanced.
5. Take some time out – stress increases our cravings, which results in us overeating and putting on weight. Learning to reduce your stress will help you manage your weight.
6. Prioritise sleep – depriving yourself of sleep drives the hunger hormone, Ghrelin, up and the full hormone, Peptide, down therefore you will end up eating more sugary foods to give you the energy you are lacking.
So remember that in order to put night-time binging behind you, you have to take the steps to stop the cycle and to create different pathways within your body in order for you to be able to keep that blood sugar level in check!