Imagine this: it’s midnight, you silently walk to your kitchen and you immediately pull out a bag of chips and eat them without guilt! However, the feeling of guilt starts to set in as soon as you finish bingeing. You start to feel bad about filling yourself with tasty but unhealthy snacks every night. If this is you, understand that you are alone. We’ve all been there and done it many times. But this bad habit is hurting you more than you think. Nighttime cravings can disrupt your sleep and derail your healthy eating goals. To beat them, it’s crucial to understand the underlying causes and how to avoid midnight cravings.
Health Shots contacted Doli Baliyan, Senior Clinical Nutritionist, Max Super Specialty Hospital, Dehradun, to understand how to avoid midnight cravings.
What are the side effects of nighttime snacking?
It’s not always bad to snack in the evening, as everyone does from time to time. But regularly consuming more than you need at night can lead to:
• Weight gain: Eating too many calories too often can lead to weight gain, which can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
• Impact on job performance and mental health: Overeating at night can cause symptoms such as headaches, diarrhea, and upset stomach the next day. Eating ultra-processed snacks in the evening can cause feelings of guilt, depression or shame, impacting our ability to function normally.
• Increased risk of chronic diseases: Eating in the evening leads to various health problems, including obesity and heart disease.
Recognize the root cause of midnight cravings. Get to know why they happen. Are they due to overly controlled daytime eating, a habit, boredom or are they a sign of eating disorders? Addressing the cause is the first step to controlling cravings. Let’s find out more tips to solve this problem.
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How to curb midnight cravings?
Here are some tips from our expert to help you overcome nighttime cravings.
1.Add protein to your diet
“Incorporate healthy protein sources like lean poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, peas, lentils, beans and yogurt into your dinner. Protein provides sustained energy and keeps you feeling fuller for longer,” explains the expert.
2. Include foods high in fiber
The expert suggests: “Your diet should include more fiber-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, and grains that are high in fiber and low in sugar. Fiber takes time to digest and helps control hunger without compromising your nutrition.”
3. Reduce your intake of sugar and simple carbohydrates
Avoid foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates, as they can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, triggering cravings.
4. Avoid Late Night Triggers
Avoid high-sugar snacks and caffeine before bed. These can disrupt your sleep and cause midnight cravings.
5. Stay hydrated
Make sure you drink enough water during the day and consider drinking a glass of water before bed. Adequate hydration can reduce feelings of hunger.
6. Stress management
“Practice stress reduction through techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, warm baths, yoga, gentle exercises and stretching. Stress management can help prevent emotional eating at night,” suggests the expert.
7. Consider a personalized approach
Individualized solutions: Keep in mind that what works for one person may not work for another. Experiment with these strategies to find the ones that best suit your needs and preferences.
Be patient and consistent: Overcoming midnight cravings takes time and consistency. Stay committed to your chosen strategies and don’t get discouraged if it takes time to see results.
Keep a food diary: This will help you detail what you eat and drink daily. And keeping track of the calories you’ve consumed throughout the day can help identify potential problem patterns like skipping meals or going too long without eating.