Late night Food Craving: Has a bag of cookies ever beckoned you after a lousy day? Even if we otherwise have killer discipline, many of us can’t help surrendering to food cravings. We assume it’s the decadent flavors, sugars, and fats that have us feeling peckish; but it’s more about the snacking patterns we’ve grown accustomed to, say our experts. “A craving is essentially just a habit you’ve ensconced in the brain pathway,” explains Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic. If you tend to eat when you’re anxious or at a certain time of night, the behavior just continues on as part of your lifestyle.
What’s more, a lot of us turn to mindless super-snacking when we’re really looking to comfort ourselves or just find distraction—but these psychological effects are temporary at best, says Michelle May, MD, author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. Instead of rationalizing your snack-happy scenarios (“I’m stressed!”), ID the real reasons behind them. Then make these wise adjustments from the pros, and you’ll be back in the driver’s seat.
What Your Cravings Mean (And How to Rewire Them): Whether it’s your sweet tooth or woe-is-me mood nudging you toward the snack drawer, there’s a quick trick to reel in the urge, without depriving yourself.
What it means: You may be overtired. Hunger-controlling hormones, like ghrelin, leptin, and cortisol, can all be affected by lack of sleep, says behavioral therapist Robin Frutchey: “If there’s an imbalance, it can change your satiety levels, causing you to crave carbs.” Or you might just be bored at night, adds May, “looking to reward yourself after folding laundry—or you want a treat while you watch a TV show.”
To indulge late-night snacking: The problem with eating too close to bedtime is that it can mess with digestion and disrupt your sleep. If the hunger is real, Kroff proposes having a small liquid snack that will satiate without keeping you up. Her go-to: a cup of warm unsweetened cashew milk with cinnamon and clove.
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