The Real Reason You Crave Late Night Snacks (And How To Stop It)
It’s past 9 pm and you find yourself heading to the fridge. You’re thinking of grabbing late night snacks like a piece of fruit, a few nuts or some yogurt. But then you see the leftover chocolate cake from that birthday party and ….it’s all over.
Many people most vulnerable to cravings late afternoon or at night. And what might start out as a small bite can easily turn into a binge. This could defeat a day’s calorie intake.
On average, it’s at least 10 hours between your last meal of the day and breakfast the next morning. So it’s pretty common to raid the fridge in between.
But here’s the thing: Do you find most of the time you aren’t even hungry?
The best way to prevent a late-night sweet-feast is to discover what triggers you to head to the kitchen in the first place.
What causes us to reach for late night snacks?
Food is a go-to fix for many after a stressful day. Rushing can also lead to a little rendezvous with the fridge.
When everything has slowed down at day’s end, you see a window of opportunity to sit down and enjoy sweet treats.
Enjoying sweet food after an evening meal could also be a habit that has formed since childhood or one that has developed over time.
What are you actually craving?
Here’s an insight – what you crave might not actually be food. Naturally, we crave sweet, salty or fatty foods because they’re comforting. Physiologically, we may be reaching for these snacks to help fill a void.
Consuming sweet foods can act as a replacement for certain needs that aren’t being met. This could be love, creativity, affection or any possible emotional unfulfillment.
Snacking routinely has the ability to form a habit. Sweet late night snacks provide instant satisfaction. It gives short-term gratification but is by no means a long-term solution.
Consuming foods high in sugar, fat or salt overloads the senses and can help alleviate unpleasant feelings. Momentarily.
What feels like a mini-reward initially will lead to feeling worse for having indulged in one of your guilty pleasures. Give it 30 minutes, and it spells instant regret!
How can you regain control from late night snacks?
The key to ending late night snacks eating is digging deep to find out what void you are trying to fill. It requires a level of commitment to confront the “problem” that needs fixing.
To do this, you can find out the underlying needs that late-night sweet snacks meet and use alternatives or ways to cut them out.
When trying to remove a bad habit, I recommend replacing it as opposed to trying to remove it altogether. For example, if you’re used to having chocolate after dinner, you can try to replace it with a beautiful chai latte made with cinnamon and sweet spices or a tasty herbal tea. The warm drink will be nourishing and comforting, which is probably what you are after when you’re longing for something sweet after dinner.
To look deeper into the root of the underlying reasons for your unwanted snacking, here are some simple yet effective techniques:
1. Identify what you’re eating. A meal plan that appears healthy can be deceiving. An imbalanced diet can lead to cravings. For example, food with too much salt almost always makes you feel like you need something sweet to feel fully satisfied. Good levels of healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, nuts), fibre and protein help maintain appropriate blood sugar balance.
2. If you’re dealing with stress/anxiety, turn to simple diaphragmatic breathing exercises shown here to help ease your mind. Ensure you’re getting enough exposure to natural sunlight in the day – a known de-stresser that brightens your vision and provides Vitamin D.
3. Identify if you’re eating meals on time. The body has multiple internal clocks that control everything from wakefulness, sleepiness and hunger. For example, sunshine signifies a signal to be awake, while a dark light/environment indicates to wind down and head to sleep. Another signal we need to be aware of is to eat! Our body expects food earlier in the day when you need to be awake, so it’s best to keep meals early.
4. Be careful of natural sugars. It’s easy to think honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar are healthy alternatives to sweeteners (dates as well for a healthy alternative snack). But these natural sugars are steeped in fructose and fruit sugar, which when taken in excess, can be harmful to the body. Too much fructose can cause insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
5. Think about what you might be missing. If you’re feeling emotional or distracted at night, it’s possible you use food as a replacement for a certain need. Are you stressed out at work? Are you worried about financial security? Do you feel like the people around you don’t give you the appreciation you deserve? Think about it and be honest with what really bothers you and how you can address it.
So, what makes you jump to the fridge?
Problems that lead to late night snacks eating are complex and unique to each person. Why not comment below and share why you might be eating late at night?