3 Tips to Prevent Late Night Hunger | NUTRITION
Have you ever experienced feeling hungry just before bedtime? Well, many people actually do. Unfortunately, late-night snacks can sabotage your fitness goals and even your sleep. Obviously, your solution would be to ignore your hunger. But what if you’re really hungry? Perhaps eating something small would do the trick. So, what should you do?
Here’s what you can do to prevent late-night hunger or cravings and avoid unwanted weight gain caused by it.
Tip #1 Ask yourself: are you hungry or just craving something sweet or savory?
The first and most important tip is to differentiate between hunger or craving. Hunger is your body’s need for physical nourishment. And because it is a need, your body will tell you whether it’s physically hungry or not. Indications such as stomachache or a growling tummy are both signs of physical hunger.
Craving on the other hand, is typically driven by a number of reasons. It could be because of habit, anxiety, emotions (anger or stress), or hormonal changes. It is therefore, a false hunger. It’s all in your mind.
Eating when you’re truly hungry is just right. Consuming food while your simply craving, can lead to binging or unhealthy munching. Worse, it can disrupt your sleeping time which has a negative effect on you mental health and brain performance. By getting to the root of what’s causing you to crave foods late in the night, you can improve your mental well being and overall health.
Tip #2 Eat Healthy Snacks and Practice Good Habits Before Bedtime
If you have identified hunger, which means you are truly hungry, make sure to snack smarter. Eat mainly healthy snacks and in healthy portions. Nuts and fruits are the best midnight snacks you can have. Nuts for example have enough fiber, good fat, and protein to keep you feeling full longer.
In a similar way, bad bedtime habits can lead you to munch on unhealthy snacks. Try to mix up your bedtime routine. For example, if you’re used to eating chips while watching TV before bedtime, do something else with your hands that will keep you occupied. You’re hands have been used to reaching out for some food while watching your favorite show, so it’s best to do something else with them. Doodle, play with a Rubik’s Cube, or whatever suits you best.
If you’re craving foods because you are stressed, angry, or anxious about something, soothe yourself through other means and not just by eating. Write about what you’re feeling, watch funny videos, or listen to meditative music.
Tip #3 Change What and When to Eat for Dinner
Finally, you should consider the time you’re eating and the types of food you eat for dinner. According to a 2016 study at the Columbia University in New York, meals high in fiber can lead to better sleep. Too much saturated fat and sugar on the other hand, can keep you turning in bed for most of the night.
Make sure to eat a healthy and satisfying dinner approximately 4 hours before bedtime. A well-balanced meal will leave you full for about this amount of time. It should contain lean protein, healthy fat, small serving of complex carbs, and generous amount of vegetables.
Related: Why You Should Eat Regular Meals
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Fiber and Saturated Fat Are Associated with Sleep Arousals and Slow Wave Sleep. http://jcsm.aasm.org/viewabstract.aspx?pid=30412