Believe it or not, there are many of us who end up craving a salty or a sweet snack late in the evening long after we would normally stop eating – even (and sometimes especially) when we are not hungry.
Eating at night is a sure way to exceed your daily caloric weight, which means that if you're into night-time eating, losing weight will surely be a problem for you.
The following are top 8 ways to suppress appetite, curb food cravings & reduce hunger:
1. Create A Routine And Stick To It
Thanks to school, work, or children, most people have a routine of sorts that they follow. This, however, often fails to include self care.
For many, nighttime eating is simply an aftereffect of undernourishment rooting from eating less throughout the day. You must, therefore, make a suitable routine for your food habits to help prevent this. When you have a scheduled time to eat during the day, you will surely make eating a priority at the time.
Another reason behind overeating is lack of adequate sleep. You must, therefore, make a routine that allows for adequate sleep, so that you can rest your body enough to avoid those night-time hunger pangs.
Having a bedtime routine will allow your mind to calm down and signal your body to wind down and prepare itself to sleep. This makes it easier to go to bed and fall asleep at appropriate times.
The key point here is that by creating a suitable routine which has adequate room for both eating and sleeping, you can avoid indulging in unhealthy behaviors such as nighttime eating.
2. Create Distractions and Avoid Boredom
Funny as that sounds, one of the primary reasons behind people snacking late at night is boredom. Whenever you're bored, try and find new, alternative activities to indulge instead of eating.
You can do a variety of things, like reading a book, talking to a friend, completing crossword puzzles, and playing with a pet or going for a walk, so as to reduce the likelihood of eating at night.
3. Seek Emotional Support
For many, nighttime eating symbolizes a more serious condition, such as binge eating.
A psycho-physical disorder, binge eating is characterized by eating large quantities of food over a short period of time, all the while feeling like it is impossible to control the type and/or amount of food that is being eaten. Such conditions require professional treatment and support, since they are far more than night-time eating.
The average onset age for a binge eating disorder is 25, and it affects about 3% of the population throughout the span of their lifetime.
Even if you don't have an eating disorder, you will benefit greatly from emotional support networks, which will help you overcome nighttime eating.
The key point here is that nighttime eating is a sign of emotional distress that is often associated with disordered eating. By getting professional assistance, you can address the underlying issues.
4. Identify Your Trigger and Avoid It
Believe it or not, many people have some form of environmental or emotional trigger, which inspires them to indulge in any particular behavior, such as overeating. Some of the most common triggers for overeating are watching TV, seeing a favorite food, not having a plan for meals, high stress levels, and feeling bored.
The main reasons why many turn to food for emotional comfort are the complex neural mechanisms which signal a reward whenever certain foods are consumed. You must therefore plug this by finding alternative ways to activate the reward center of your brain whenever you are triggered.
One way to determine triggers is by journaling about your food habits daily. You must include what is being eaten, the time when it was eaten, the surroundings and environment, as well as your emotional state. This helps determine trends over time.
The key logic here is that by tracking your eating behavior and its surroundings, you can identify the “triggers” which lead you to overeat at night, which makes it easier to break the cycle.
5. Dine at Regular Intervals
Research has proved that eating too much at night often correlates to erratic eating patterns throughout the day.
You must, therefore, plan your daily eating intervals. By doing so, you can help ensure stable blood sugar, which in turn prevents you from getting overly hungry during nighttime.
Furthermore, when you eat at frequent intervals, you end up consuming fewer calories daily. You also have an increased ability to regulate your choices in food items.
When you go for a long period of time without eating, it is considered fasting. This often makes the brain biased to eat high-calorie foods whenever there is an opportunity to eat.
When eating, you must always keep in consideration the size of the portion you are eating. Believe it or not, overeating results from being unaware of what an appropriate portion size should be.
The key point here is that by eating meals at regular intervals, you can prevent hunger pangs that often lead to nighttime unhealthy overeating.
6. Plan Your Meals
By planning your meal, you can make eating throughout the day a much more simplified and beneficial activity.
When you plan your snacks and meals beforehand, you will be totally prepared and won't have to make any last-minute hush-hush decisions on what you should eat, which often leads to unhealthy decisions and/or skipped meals.
While planning your meals, you must make sure to include healthy items such as nuts, whole grains, and fresh fruit. Not only do these make eating on the go easier, they form better alternative as late night foods.
The key point here is that when you prepare and plan your meals and snacks beforehand, it becomes easier to follow a routine, eat regularly, and avoid untimely late night hunger.
7. Reduce Your Stress Levels
Although stress is a very unavoidable and normal part of our lives, and is not necessarily “bad,” an excess of it in the long term has some severe side effects on one's health – both physical and mental.
Believe it or not, two of the most common triggers for overeating – especially when you're not hungry at all – are heightened levels of anxiety and stress. The general way to reduce stress is by indulging in pleasurable activities.
Eating is, of course, one such very easy way to make this happen, which is why those under tremendous stress often end up craving food during those late night hours. You must, therefore, make a conscious effort to avoid giving in to the temptation and eating unhealthy foods, and instead find alternative pleasurable actions to reduce your stress levels.
Additionally, you should also make an effort to reduce stress levels in the first place by employing techniques based on mindfulness, such as meditation, yoga, focused breathing exercises, and stretching.
The key point here, of course, is to use stress reduction techniques other than eating to reduce stress levels.
8. Keep Temptation at Bay
If you are among the many people who simply cannot restrain themselves from eating sweet, salty, or high-fat foods at night when they are within your reach, you must completely remove them from your home. This, of course, is based on the simple logic that when unhealthy foods are unavailable, there are lesser chances of you eating them during nighttime.
You can then “retrain” the reward centers of your brain by replacing these unhealthy foods with better, healthier alternatives that will benefit your body.
The key point here, of course, is that when you remove unhealthy foods from your house entirely, it becomes logistically far more difficult – if not impossible – to give in to overindulgence.
Curb Food Cravings & Reduce Hunger Final Words
Needless to say, late night eating leads to an increased caloric daily total, which in turn leads to weight gain, obesity, and a variety of other problems.
If you're among the many people who have trouble controlling their late night hunger pangs, you should try one or more of the aforementioned hints to alter your behavior.