12 ways to manage food cravings at night
There is nothing more frustrating than sticking to your healthy eating plan during the day and getting caught out by snacking late at night.
Late night food cravings and midnight fridge raids can be avoided and with a little awareness and planning you can beat the cravings that come after dinner.
Here are some tactics to use when you’re fighting the temptation to eat something late at night
1. Eat a protein-rich dinner
Protein is known to keep you feeling fuller for long, so be sure to eat a dinner rich in protein to avoid late night food cravings and hunger pangs at midnight.
Good sources of protein include lean red meat, chicken, cheese, eggs, fish, tofu, Greek yoghurt, beans and other legumes.
2. Have good sleep hygiene
You may not have heard of the term ‘sleep hygiene’ before but it’s an important contributor to good quality sleep. While mothers typically lose more sleep than the average person (especially for mothers of newborns or early-rising toddlers) there are certain factors that you can control.
You may not be able to control how often your child cries in the middle of the night, but you can control certain elements of your ability to get to sleep.
Sleep plays an important part in weight loss, because several studies have linked sleep loss to decreased metabolic function, hormone imbalances and increased cravings for food.
To ensure you have good sleep hygiene (and a better chance at sleeping and not getting up to raid the fridge) ensure that you keep televisions, laptops and smart phones out of the bedroom and switched off an hour before bed.
Also, make sure your bedroom is free from light sources (such as street lights or digital alarm clocks). By creating a serene, comforting space to sleep, you’ll have more chance of sleeping well, instead of staying up late craving junk food.
3. Drink warm fluids
Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger, and it’s easy to forget to drink enough water when you’re busy preparing dinner and helping kids get ready for bed.
If you’re feeling hungry after dinner, try drinking a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea or warm water with lemon in it instead. Fluids like this are hydrating but also help you feel full, and are naturally calorie-free.
4. Fill up on fruit
Following up dinner with a serving of fruit has a multitude of benefits. You’ll benefit from the vitamins and minerals within the fruit, but also the natural sweetness will stave off cravings for chocolate later on in the night.
Whether you eat an orange, a banana or share a punnet of strawberries with your family, you’ll be less likely to feel hungry and hit the fridge later on in the night if you’ve filled up on fruit.
And a point to note too is that if you are breastfeeding it is totally normal to be hungrier than normal and you should snack more as your body has greater energy needs – just snack on healthy foods and not junk.
Top 12 ideas to stop overeating at night time
- Brush your teeth after dinner to immediately take cravings away
- Ensure your dinner has enough protein, veggies and wholegrains in to keep you feeling full
- Allow yourself a treat – perhaps a couple some of the Healthy Mummy chocolate treats
- If you had a light dinner allow yourself a small fruit salad with low fat yoghurt on
- If you are craving something sweet try a few frozen grapes or raspberries that will take a while to get through
- Have a cup of tea
- Have a cup of iced water with lemons in
- Do something other than just watch TV – like some floor exercises such as leg raises, core work, mini push ups
- Take your mind off eating and read something or look at something online
- Make sure you do not have any junk food in the house so that you have no temptation
- Remember you ate dinner and your body is full. It is just your mind playing tricks with you – unless you are breastfeeding and then you are probably hungry so have an extra snack.
- It can take at least 28 days to break a habit so do this every day for 21 days and the need to munch at night will be GONE
If you are still really hungry after all of this then make sure you go for healthy and good snacks – see our snack section here for ideas.
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