Colder weather is right around the corner, the sun is setting earlier, and, you know, we’re still living through a pandemic, so all things considered it’s easy (err, shall we say inescapable) to feel somewhat trapped in our home. Feeling stir-crazy is completely normal (you’re familiar with it, we know), which can also lead to late-night anxiety and late-night grazing in the kitchen. We know the evening routine all too well! To help achieve a balance when the p.m. cravings kick in, we tapped Dr. Nicole Avena, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, to share her expert insight on ways to keep munchies at bay. Keep reading to learn how to curb your nighttime cravings below.
Nourish your body throughout the day
“This tip is crucial in order to avoid cravings at nighttime. If your body is not nourished throughout the day, it will try to overcompensate later on. Your body knows how much it needs to eat and how much it needs to perform the important restorative processes that go on while you sleep. Make sure to eat a nutritious dinner that includes ample protein so that you will stay full longer as the evening wears on.”
Investigate your hormones
“Hormones are partially responsible for letting your body know you’re hungry and full. If hormones that control your blood sugar levels, like insulin, are unbalanced, your blood sugar will not be stable, which can lead to intense cravings, especially if your blood sugar levels are particularly low. Other hormones, such as cortisol (the stress hormone) and estrogen (a female sex hormone), can fall out of balance in your body and induce strong cravings. Make sure you are eating a balanced diet and look into any possible deficiencies or health conditions that may be affecting your body’s hunger signals.”
Avoid stockpiling calories
“It’s the tried and true method of maintaining a healthy diet by eating balanced meals throughout the day with the inclusion of lots of fruits, vegetables, and protein.” Don’t get hung up on “saving” your calories for dinner, because that will only bite you in the end, and “you will be likely to eat too much too quickly and ruin whatever dietary plan you had given yourself for that day.”
Use a food journal
“It might seem like an inconvenience at first, but logging your food into a journal every day will help you to become more mindful about your eating, and lead to less mindless munching at night. If you struggle with emotional or boredom eating, this method may be especially helpful as it forces you to confront the amount of food you are eating and also gives you the opportunity to question whether or not you are actually eating out of hunger.”
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