And What To Do About It!
"Why do I always get cravings at night?"
An all too common question I'm asked by my clients. And I've struggled with the same thing!
The six reasons below have more to do with the mentality of eating than actual needs to taste certain foods; better know as "cravings." As you read through them, challenge yourself to find your personal reason (or reasons) that may cause you to eat more at night.
Keep reading for advice on what to do and my own personal snack recommendations!
1. Eating Begats Eating.
Eating makes you want to eat more! It is why the Pringle's slogan works so well; "Once you pop, you just can't stop." Eating is enjoyable and tasty and harder to give up at the end of the day. Which brings me to number two...
2. We Are Spent!
We are physically and emotionally spent at the end of the day. A normal day can easily consist of commuting, working, attending meetings, dealing with people, paying bills, dropping and picking up kids, putting the kids to bed, stamping out unforeseen fires, and then finally cooking dinner and eating it. You are exhausted and that's after a good day! Add eating well and exercising to that day and you might be drained from making any more good decisions by the time you have eaten dinner. Now, you're talking yourself into what food you deserve to relax on the couch with. Not to mention how much you deserve that after dinner drink!
3. You're Bored.
Most people are kept busy throughout the day. I even know many people who say they don't have time to eat (which I'll never understand), but all of a sudden work is done, the kids are in bed, and everything else has slowed down...and the refrigerator is staring at you.
4. We've Trained Ourselves
We've trained ourselves to eat more at night. If you add up reasons 1, 2, & 3 and do that over and over again, you have created an evil cycle of habits for yourself. And trust me, you're not alone. You are just used to eating more at night. Or maybe you save your "special food" for night time, when you can savor it. Whatever your "routine" is, it may be masking itself as a bad habit, not a craving.
5. Scared of Going to Bed Hungry
You might not realize this, but you may actually be scared of going to bed hungry. Yes, scared. The fear stems from a 'food is comfort' thing, and it's hard to explain, yet very real. When you look up antonyms to the word "comfort," you see "worry," "irritation," "agitation," "displeasure," and "sorrow." Having a slightly empty feeling in your stomach when getting into bed is uncomfortable and can bring about a feeling of anxiousness and sadness in many people.
6. The Science Reason
You eat. Blood sugar rises. Insulin increases. Blood sugar falls. You're hungry again.
After you have eaten dinner, your blood sugar rises. Then, your pancreas releases insulin to get that sugar out of the blood. If you ate lots of high carbohydrate food, or just too much food, your insulin spike may have been very large. In return, insulin works "too" well and you end up with low blood sugar which triggers hunger, cravings, anxiety and you want to eat all over again. And you don't just want to eat avocado's and chicken, your low blood sugar triggers your brain to crave...... you guessed it.... SUGAR! You can prevent these peaks and valleys of your blood sugar by changing what you put in your mouth.
So, what do we do?
1. Reduce your carbohydrates throughout the day
The first thing to do is start to eliminate as many carbohydrates as possible from your diet throughout the entire day. You will start to eliminate the peaks and valleys of your blood sugar and trade those with a very stable level of blood sugar that is consistent throughout the day. Without the highs and lows, you will find yourself less hungry, less tired, more energized, with less cravings. If your blood sugar never gets too high, it will never get too low.
2. Become more aware
The second thing to do is to be aware of any or all of the listed reasons above that might be affecting you. Maybe you didn't realize that you hate going to bed hungry, or you're eating our of boredom, or that 'once you pop, you just can't stop.' When you realize why you do things, it becomes easier to stop doing them. Dig deep into yourself and the real reasons you are eating and don't give up. Learning yourself is a process that can take time.
3. Embrace your bad habits!
The third thing to do is embrace your bad habits. Yes, embrace them! Understand yourself and your habits because those things are who you are and how you live your life. Instead of trying to not eat at night, continue to eat when you like to, but change the food you're eating when you do eat. Be aware of the types of food you are eating when you get home, during dinner, and after dinner and see if any of it could be causing your blood sugar to rise too high and then crash later, creating the everlasting cycle of eating. If you are snacking on chips or popcorn or ice cream, your blood sugar is spiking way too high. Trade them with avocado slices, or cauliflower popcorn, or a scoop of natural Almond Butter.