Smart ways to tame your late night hunger pangs

At night, our brain doesn't find our favourite high-calorie foods like cakes and cookies sufficiently rewarding. So we end up overeating.

Hankering for those chips, chocolates and cookies in the middle of the night is something that many of us experience, regularly or occasionally. A small study published in Brain Imaging and Behaviour has come out with a surprising explanation for this: At night, our brain doesn't find our favourite high-calorie foods like cakes and cookies sufficiently rewarding. So we end up overeating. Another research published in the Journal of Obesity offers an equally interesting revelation. The researchers found that our body's circadian rhythm (internal clock) escalates the cravings for starchy, salty and sweet foods during the later part of the day. However, apart from these biological quirks, there are other circumstantial factors contributing to your late night food cravings. They could be anything from stress and depression to lack of satiation, and eating disorders.

Coping strategies

Whatever the cause be, late night binging has quite a number of health impacts, starting from weight gain to gastrointestinal disorders. Here is a sure-fire combat plan to tackle the trouble.

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Read: Why you feel fatigued and sleepy after overeating

Combat plan #1: Keep eating throughout the day

Get yourself into a routine and plan your meals well. Structured eating will help you spread your food intake over the day so that you're less hungry at night. Three major meals accompanied by two snacks every day will give you better control over your appetite.

Combat plan #2: Resort to a meal ender

You can use a mint-flavoured gum as a meal ender. The mint flavour reduces your desire to taste food. However, brushing your teeth after dinner is equally beneficial. It is good for your oral health as well.

Combat plan #3: Stay away from the kitchen after dinner

Being around food may tempt you to eat more. So push off from your kitchen after dinner. Postpone your clean-up tasks, so that you aren't tempted to eat the leftovers at night. Another good option is to go for a walk post-dinner. Physical activity helps to put a break to your eating momentum and make you feel full. Walking for just for 15-20 minutes will also help.

Combat plan #4: Do not overlap snack time with screen time

Do you love to munch on snacks while watching your favourite Netflix series late at night? Well, watching TV or something on the screen is one of the main culprits behind mindless eating. So, do not reach out for your favourite snacks while you are spending time on screen.

Combat plan #5: Do not stock up on junk food

This is even better! If you are prone to gorging on junk food at night, then do not have your favourite nachos or chips in stock. This way, your desire to snack in the middle of the night will be curbed. But if you must, have healthier options in store, that will fill you up in fewer calories. That way, you will not end up over snacking at least. Having a handful of your favourite nuts is a good option.

Combat plan #6: Go to bed on time

When it comes to managing your food intake and weight, getting a good night's sleep is very important. Lack of sleep can increase your risk of obesity and other related disorders. If you are awake in the wee hours of the night, your hunger hormone ghrelin spikes up and the hormone leptin that signals you to stop eating, depletes. This pretty much explains the reason behind late night eating. So, it is always better to sleep on time every night. Go to bed at the same time regularly to create a sound sleep cycle. It will ensure the quantity and quality of your sleep. Forming bedtime routines, like taking a bath before dozing off, cleaning your bed, switching off the lights and keeping your digital devices away, will also help. Make sure you stick to this routine.

Read: 5 tips to prevent you from overeating at dinner

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