6 Ways to get control of your late-night food cravings
- 2 Minutes Read
Are late-night food cravings standing between you and your weight-loss goals? If so, don't fret. Our dietitian-approved strategies can help! Here are six factors that can help isolate the issue.
Do you crave certain foods, especially in the evening after dinner? Is it a craving, or are you actually hungry and simply prefer certain foods to satisfy that hunger? Paying attention to your hunger and fullness levels and learning the nuances between hunger and fullness can help.
If you are physically hungry, then any food will work to help satisfy your need. So why not eat a healthy snack instead of junk? Here are some healthy snacks that are less than 150 calories. If only a specific food satisfies you (e.g., potato chips, Snickers Bar, etc.), you have a craving.
If you are trying to stick to a low-calorie eating plan (such as a strict calorie budget below your basal metabolic rate), excessive hunger may be challenging. Consider giving yourself a break by pushing your target weight-loss date further out so that you can lose weight at a slower pace. Adjust your weight-loss targets under the Coach tab in the MyNetDiary app.
Do you skip meals or have long-lasting gaps in between meals? If so, then you might be "running on empty" by the time the sun goes down. Blood glucose is our brain's primary fuel source, and the carbohydrates we eat directly influence our blood glucose level. Skip meals, and you skip carbs too. To ensure you are fueling your brain and body, make a point to eat three balanced meals each day. Then pay attention to your hunger levels and add a snack if needed. Also, paying attention to the amount and type of carbs you eat and how the carbs are dispersed throughout your day can help you identify patterns contributing to cravings.
To learn more about the different types of carbs found in food, click here.
Do you find yourself craving creamy or drinkable foods like ice cream, shakes, or even soda and juice? Sometimes people confuse this with craving carbs when what they are seeking is water. To find out how your hydration stacks up, consider tracking your fluid intake. MyNetDiary's water tracking feature makes it easy to monitor your hydration. The Water Tracker feature is available on iPhone, Android, and web apps. Many people find that staying hydrated helps them feel energized and more focused and decreases cravings. Are you looking for some healthy drinks besides water? Check out these options.
Some people crave salt if they are eating too much or too little of it. To see how your diet stacks up, pay attention to the amount of sodium in your diet. If you crave salt even when your sodium intake is above 2300 mg (the daily value for most people), then experiment to find out what helps you decrease those cravings.
Cutting back on sodium can help manage cravings, though it's best to decrease your sodium intake in stages. Start by reducing big-ticket items such as packaged foods and fast foods. To learn which foods contribute most to your daily sodium totals, check out your daily and weekly reports in MyNetDiary.
Over time, you will find that your taste for salt will diminish. For foods you have always salted, try using a salt substitute to get a salty or spicy taste with little to no sodium.
Some people crave salt after exercise. Intense workouts, especially in the heat when you sweat a lot, may require electrolyte replacement. Click here to learn about how to replenish electrolytes naturally when exercising in the heat.
Finally, salt cravings may be associated with an underlying medical condition. If cravings persist after making these adjustments, talk to your doctor.
Inadequate sleep may increase your feelings of hunger and affect cravings and taste perception. Even one night of poor sleep may increase cravings. Want to learn more about the connection between sleep and weight, as well as tips for a better night's rest? Click here.
Getting a handle on late-night food cravings takes thoughtful attention and time to understand the various factors contributing to your need to nosh. MyNetDiary makes tracking easier to identify patterns and learn how your food choices, meal timing, and other habits impact the foods you gravitate towards at night.
How are others managing late-night food cravings? Check out the MyNetDiary community forum to connect with others who use the app to lose weight and meet their health goals.
Reviewed and updated by Joanna Kriehn MS, RDN, CDCES, on July 30, 2021.
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