Our biology responds differently to calories consumed at different times of day. Besides, your body’s ability to gain weight is mainly about what you eat and how much, not when you eat.
1. Don’t Deprive yourself of Food: Try to listen to your body hunger cues. When we’re hungry, we need to eat, and eat till we’re satisfied. Only then can we get past obsessions over food, and get back to our lives. It’s no easy task to change eating habits. The fact is, “our bodies become accustomed to overeating at night and having no appetite in the morning,” notes Pritikin’s Director of Nutrition Kimberly Gomer.
2. Trace the Cause: Nighttime eating may be the result of overly restricted daytime food intake, leading to ravenous hunger at night. It may also be caused by habit or boredom. However, nighttime eating has also been linked to some eating disorders, including binge eating disorder and night eating syndrome. If you are hungry at night, eat. Don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t think food eaten at night puts on more weight than the same food eaten earlier in the day, choose the right kind of food & enjoy a healthy, filling snack like a cup of fat-free Greek nonfat yogurt topped with fresh strawberries. Just make sure to stop eating when you’re lightly satisfied. Don’t keep eating till you’re stuffed. Monitoring your behavior patterns and identifying what triggers you to eat at night will help you break cycles of emotional eating.
3. Get Sleep: Sleeping less than six to seven hours per night has been shown in studies to alter gut hormone regulation. Not only can this disruption increase how much we eat during the day, but it also drives mindless eating that occurs when we are tired instead of hungry. Adults should strive for 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
4. Balance Out Dinner: Incorporate unsaturated fats with oils, nuts and seeds, encourage consumption of some fruits and a serving of low-fat or fat-free dairy. Have a sensible dessert, such as reduced-fat yogurt or ice cream with fresh fruit. Balance your evening meal and dessert to get enough of a variety of nutrients so you feel full and can stave off later cravings related to deficiencies.
5. Include Protein at Every Meal: Different foods can have different effects on your appetite. Including protein at every meal may help curb your hunger. It could also help you feel more satisfied throughout the day, stop you from being preoccupied with food and help prevent snacking at night. One study found that eating frequent high-protein meals reduced cravings by 60% and cut the desire to eat at night by half. Protein is known to keep you fuller for longer. Including protein at every meal can reduce cravings and nighttime eating.
Understand it’s no easy task to change eating habits. The fact is, our bodies become accustomed to overeating at night and having no appetite in the morning. Incorporating small changes that can serve you well in the long run.