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Love snacking at midnight? Here's how to curb those cravings

Late-night snacking or midnight snacking is one thing that even the most strong-willed cannot avoid! Now, have you ever wondered why we crave midnight snacks? It’s because when you go without food for long intervals, your hunger hormone, ghrelin, is triggered into production. When the levels of this hormone go up, you feel hungry and your body gets ready for fat storage.

If you get into a routine of regular midnight snacking, you not only gain weight but also compromise your overall health. Analysing the reasons for losing self-control and finding healthy ways to tackle the issue can be a solution to this issue.

What Are The Healthy Ways Of Curbing Midnight Snacking?

There are several reasons why people get into the habit of midnight snacking. Some them are

  • Skipping meals
  • Snacking while watching TV late in the night or before bedtime.
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Irregular meal schedule
  • Lack of nutrients
  • Lack of Sleep

There are healthy ways of tackling the issue and overcoming the midnight snacking habit. Tweak your lifestyle and eating habits to some extent and feel the change. The tips given below will help you curb midnight snacking.

Consume Enough Calories During The Day

Insufficient calorie consumption during the day impacts late-night snacking in several ways.

  • When the body does not receive enough calories during the day, it will trigger the hunger hormone, ghrelin and results in midnight cravings. The urge is only a way to make up for the missed calories.
  • Not eating enough during the day will bring down blood sugar levels. This triggers cravings for high-fat and high-sugar foods that you often end up consuming during midnight snacking. This snacking habit once created will be hard to give up.
  • With a lack of food, your body will be deprived of various nutrients like protein and fibre. This will trigger the hunger hormone, ghrelin. This will contribute to increased appetite, especially, at night and lead to midnight snacking.
  • Low-calorie food will inhibit the production of leptin, a hormone that tells you when to stop eating. When the brain does not receive signals of fullness you will tend to feel hungry and the urge for snacking late at night begins.

It is important to consume nutritious food at regular intervals throughout the day to support healthy blood sugar and hormone levels to overcome the midnight snacking habit.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water and hydrating yourself can curb midnight cravings to a large extent. It helps control your urge to snack late in the night in several ways.

  • It reduces thirst cues. Most of the time you tend to mistake thirst cues for hunger cues and end up eating even when you are actually not hungry. Drinking enough water will prevent thirst cues and prevent untimely eating.
  • Drinking enough water before and during meals creates a feeling of fullness and restricts calorie intake as well as reduces the craving for snacking at night.
  • Drinking enough water supports metabolism. The calories will be well-utilised with proper metabolism and will prevent untimely cravings like midnight snacking.
  • Stress and anxiety are some of the negative effects of dehydration. This can lead to emotional eating which manifests in the form of midnight snacking.
  • Sufficient water intake will help healthy digestion. This will reduce bloating and discomfort that can trigger snacking at night.

Staying hydrated is crucial for overall well-being and reducing the urge for midnight snacking.

Follow A Meal Schedule

Being disciplined in eating will go a long way in preventing inappropriate snacking including midnight snacking. You can derive various benefits by following a meal schedule.

  • Reduces hunger pangs associated with midnight snacking.
  • Regulates blood sugar levels which avert spikes and crashes that can trigger cravings for high-sugar and high-fat foods.
  • Helps better digestion and prevents triggers that lead to midnight snacking.
  • Brings about discipline in eating which will reduce stress and anxiety, the triggers for midnight snacking.

Stick to a meal schedule and prevent triggers of midnight snacking.

Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep can impact midnight snacking in several ways.

  • When you lack sleep, the level of the hunger hormone, ghrelin increases. Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and it stimulates appetite. Additionally, lack of sleep lowers the levels of leptin, which sends signals of fullness to the brain. This hormonal imbalance can trigger the midnight snacking urge.
  • You feel tired, stressed, and anxious when you are sleep deprived. Your willpower and decision-making abilities will be affected and make it harder to resist the temptation of midnight snacking.
  • Sleep disorders disrupt the body's circadian rhythm, leading to changes in appetite and cravings and altering the way your body processes food.
  • Sleep disorders disturb your circadian rhythm. Your body’s internal clock manages various physiological functions including metabolism. A disrupted circadian rhythm leads to changes in appetite and cravings and also alters the way your body processes food.
  • Lack of sleep affects insulin sensitivity, leading to cravings for high-sugar and high-carb foods. Consuming high-sugar and high-carb foods late at night will spike blood sugar levels followed by a rapid drop which can create an urge for further snacking.

Good sleep is an important factor if you have to come out of the midnight snacking habit.

Plan Your Snacks

Planning your snacks can help avoid midnight snacking in many ways. Here are some of the benefits.

  • Reduces hunger pangs and prevents the urge to snack in between including midnight snacking.
  • By planning your snack you will be eating mindfully. You will be able to choose healthy and satisfying options to feel satiated.
  • It can help you with a balanced intake of nutrients throughout the day which can avert feeling hungry and snacking at night. There will be no imbalance in the hunger hormone, ghrelin which is good to keep your cravings at bay.
  • Stress and anxiety that contributes to midnight snacking will come down when you establish a routine and provide a structure to the day.
  • Planning snacks will help develop healthy habits around food and you will not indulge in emotional eating or midnight snacking.
  • Even if you get cravings at night you will be eating the right food. You will not grab unhealthy foods like a pack of chips or a bowl of ice cream.

Planning snacks is one of the best ways of restricting cravings or turning the cravings into healthy snacking.

Conclusion

Midnight snacking is a hard-to-break habit! Several reasons trigger this habit, such as low-calorie consumption during the day, a lack of nutrients, a lack of sleep, dehydration, an irregular meal schedule, etc. A scarcity of calories and nutrients during the day increases the levels of your hunger hormone, ghrelin, which stimulates your cravings after dark. Further, a lack of sleep causes insulin insensitivity, and this disturbs the body’s control over blood sugar levels. An urge to eat high-carb and high-sugar foods can trigger midnight snacking, too. So follow the healthy tips mentioned above and keep your midnight cravings at bay!

FAQs

What is the primary reason for midnight snacking?

Lack of sleep, lack of calories, irregular meal schedules, stress and anxiety, etc., are some of the reasons for midnight snacking.

Can midnight snacking be controlled?

Yes. Midnight snacking can be controlled if you eat well during the day, drink enough water, sleep well, and plan your snacks.

Why do we feel hungry?

When your body is not getting enough food the levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin will increase. This will stimulate hunger and you will crave snacking.

What is the reason behind the craving for junk food at night?

If you are sleep deprived, the levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and you will crave food, especially, high-carb and high-sugar foods.

What is the process that leads to midnight snacking?

The energy required is not so much as during the day. The cortisol level declines which says that it is time to sleep. When we stay awake, sugar is utilised for producing energy and so the blood sugar levels drop. We tend to eat to compensate for the drop in sugar levels.

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