Ways to deal with late-night cravings
1. Eat enough dinner
Enjoying a sufficient serving of dinner is enjoyable and nourishing. The aim is to eat until comfortably satisfied. The nutrients and satisfaction we get from enjoying our evening meal can have long-lasting effects. Sometimes when we think we "shouldn't" be eating more, we restrict, only to end up elbow-deep in a bag of chips a little while later. Late-night snack choices tend to be less nourishing than meals. It's likely more beneficial to simply have a satisfying serving of dinner than to skimp out on dinner and overeat on snack foods later on.
2. Plan for the craving
Some of us have dinner at 6 pm and don’t sleep until midnight. Within this 6-hour gap, it's only natural to feel hungry later in the evening. It's important that we honour our hunger, and enjoy a snack when feeling that hunger. This isn't a feeling we want to suppress or feel guilt over.
Regardless of the time gap between dinner and bed, if we get hungry even after having a filling dinner, we can honour our hunger cues by enjoying a snack. In either case, planning ahead can help us make more wholesome food choices. By planning ahead, we can buy ingredients and select snacks that nourish our mind, body, and soul. Some nourishing snacks we might enjoy include granola with yogurt, a handful of nuts, or veggies with hummus.
Take a moment to think about what type of snacks you usually reach for. Sweet? Salty? Savoury? Crunchy? Warm? Each of us is different. It can help to have a snack on hand that's tailored to our own preferences.
Some homemade snack ideas we enjoy to honour our hunger include:
3. Get enough sleep
When we don't get enough sleep, our bodies tend to feel low in energy. It makes sense, then, that our desire to eat increases when we're sleep-deprived, as food provides us with energy. We might notice our cravings are especially skewed towards wanting more carbohydrate-rich foods. Why? Because carbohydrate-rich foods provide our brain's primary and preferred energy source. Adequate sleep can help to curb some of those late-night cravings by making sure we're energized to begin with.
4. Drink enough fluids
Sometimes thirst is confused with hunger. It can help to reflect back on whether or not we've had enough fluids throughout the day. Drinking a glass of water or tea first can help us determine whether or not the feeling is true hunger, or in fact thirst. For something thirst-quenching and also more filling, consider a soup, a smoothie, or a cozy and warm London fog drink. If we find we're still hungry after hydrating, then we can enjoy an evening snack knowing we're well hydrated as well!
5. Be mindful
We're all for giving into hunger. Listening to our body is the kindest thing we can do. We always stand to benefit if we ask ourselves if we're eating to nourish mind and body, or if we're eating "just because". If we've decided to eat, it's so important that we enjoy it. This can be done if all our attention is on the food we are eating. For example, we can try eating away from our computers or screens to help us focus on our food. Mindful eating means we take our time, eat slow, and enjoy and savour each bite. In this way, we're eating something pleasurable, with fewer chances of over-eating mindlessly. Learn more about the practice of mindful eating in our intuitive eating video.
Whenever possible we aim to honour our body and its hunger signals. Our bodies will thank us back multifold via the health of our mind and body.
- Plan ahead. Whether it's eating more at dinner to prevent cravings or preparing wholesome snacks in advance to be ready for hunger.
- Sleep, hydrate, eat, repeat. Getting enough sleep and quenching our thirst can help reduce feelings of hunger. Still hungry after a restful night of sleep and drinking a glass of water? Honour that hunger with a nourishing snack.
- Slow down. Taking our time to eat can help us reflect on what we're eating, feel our fullness, and prevent overeating.
Discussion & Rating
Hi! I appreciate this video a lot, but I have to say that my late-night cravings are a little bit unique. My late-night sugar cravings are because I am an alcoholic in recovery. Fun fact: When you quit drinking alcohol, your body misses the sugar in alcohol, leading to intense sugar cravings. Even though I have been alcohol-free for almost 3 years, at 8-8:30pm on the dot, I want sugar, and I can't sleep if I don't have any. I have tried all kinds of things, like making my own "healthier" ice cream and snacks and, of course, drinking lots of water. But, no dice. I even go to bed early (8:30-9pm) to try and avoid eating too late. But, on average, if I'm being honest, I eat about 1 pint of ice cream a night, plus usually a few pieces of chocolate. As a nutritionist, do you have any suggestions that factor in the physical/psychological craving related to being in recovery? I am not ANTI-SNACK, but my snacking is definitely psychological and emotional on top of physical, so it's really hard. Thank you so much! I love your blog!!!