Do you feel on top of your intermittent fasting while you’re powering through your day, but feel the cravings creep in after dark? Maybe you’re not fasting at all but at the end of the day your nagging appetite just won’t let you feel content.
You’re not alone. Many people feel what we call night cravings or nighttime hunger. This is, however, different from true hunger signals, which is a physiological indication that your body is ready for food. These late night cravings have your mind wandering to foods in your pantry that may be an immediate reward, comfort or satiating taste, but unless you’ve skipped a meal, this isn’t an essential time to eat. In fact, eating late or just before bedtime activates your digestive system and disturbs your body’s rhythms, which could cause more issues for sleep and energy.
Here are the basics you need to know to overcome the urge to check out and graze when you feel the itch to raid your cabinets at night.
What are night cravings?
Night cravings occur in the evenings when your body should be satiated, winding down and resting instead of alerting you of your appetite. The salty chips and sweet chocolate tend to stick out in your mind, and you may feel the munchies while watching the most recent episode of your favorite TV show.
The problem with giving into these cravings is that indulging in snacks late at night can disrupt your metabolism or even give you a sugar rush. This can lead to an interrupted sleep cycle or even weight gain and obesity.
Why do we get them?
In previous centuries where humans would spend the daylight hours hunting and gathering, it made sense to focus on securing and preparing food during the day, then eat at night. Now, with readily available food, we can easily find ourselves gazing into the fridge or wandering into the pantry before bed to find something that sounds like it will hit the spot.
In the same vein, the eating habits you’ve formed play a large role in how well you’ll stick to your goals in times of stress. Two studies by researchers at the University of Southern California show that the habits you’ve been trained on–good or bad–become automatic. So, when you’re tired at the end of the day after already having made hundreds of small decisions, your mind will automatically switch to whichever habit it’s most comfortable with. That may mean having a small healthy bite while sticking to your fasting window, if that’s what you’re used to, or it could urge you to reach for the ice cream in the freezer after hours. For a successful fasting strategy, it’s important to have a strong support system to help you build the right habits and learn to navigate the hurdles.
But willpower isn’t the only factor in why you just can’t get past those recurring nighttime cravings. While it’s harder to say no and stay on track when you’re tired, your brain is actually wired to look for food in the evening. At night, your body produces less peptide YY, a hormone that helps you block hunger signals and feel more full. Plus, stress can heighten night cravings, making it more likely that you’ll overeat.
How do I suppress my appetite at night?
The first order of nourishing yourself to make sure your body is functioning well is to make sure you’re prioritizing getting enough healthy food in your meals and eating windows throughout the day. Fiber, protein and healthy fats will help keep your sugar levels stable and keep you feeling full longer. Too many carbohydrates, sugars and foods with empty calories can lead to you feeling hungry sooner without fueling your body with the proper energy it needs to continue to function well day and night. Proper nutrition during your eating windows is the first step to managing your appetite.
If you can’t seem to shake late-night cravings through your diet, having an aid like Citravin Fasting Mints can help suppress your appetite at night so you can put your intrusive thoughts to rest, get a good night’s sleep and stick to the eating windows that work best for your body. These mints are specifically created as a drug-free, sugar-free, stimulant-free, hormone-free, non-habit-forming tool to keep your hunger at bay, curb cravings and support your intermittent fasting practice.
In addition to natural appetite suppressants, the final strategy you can have in place to successfully navigate midnight cravings is to have a personal coach available for support. These trained professionals understand the psychology of cravings and can help you navigate your eating or intermittent fasting practice. A coach should be able to help guide you through what’s happening in your body, be able to help you navigate unhelpful habits and build beneficial, sustainable ones, and keep you accountable to avoid late night indulgences. With Temper’s fasting mints, you’ll automatically get access to a free month of professional coaching to set you up for success.
Whether it’s forming new, healthy habits or knowing you have a solution in your back pocket that can help you power through your cravings, it is possible to suppress your nighttime cravings so you can feel satisfied in the evenings and stay on track for healthy nutritional habits.