Even the most sensible, in control, strong-willed among us has fallen prey to midnight snacking. Here are the most common three queries that come to me on hunger pangs at night. Let’s analyse what leads to such melting moments, where self-control gives in, and how to tackle it the healthy way.
Nighttime munchies are a scourge that has affected every dieter at one time or another — knowing how to successfully deal with late-night cravings is one of the keys to effective weight loss.
Trying to lose weight forever and it’s given up on carbs completely, since everyone says it leads to weight gain. It feel extremely hungry by midnight.
Whenever a void is created, always remember that you will have to fill it up, because food is not eaten as it is yummy, healthy, tasty or yucky; food is your fuel. Period. If you don’t eat, you will perish. When you do not eat enough of the right food at the right time (i.e. throughout the day), you will land up eating the wrong food at the wrong time. And at the wrong time (midnight), you are not going to make the effort of cutting a fruit or tossing up a salad. You will just grab a piece of chocolate or an unhealthy bag of chips! Lesson learnt: Don’t skip meals; never cut off carbs completely from any meal; eat small portions of snacks frequently. Eat mindfully through the day, so that you don’t have to eat mindlessly, late at night.
It’s also important to understand the difference between true, physical hunger and emotional hunger or boredom. The urge to late-night snack usually comes from the latter and not the former.
After a couple of drinks my stomach is roaring to eat an elephant! Why? And how can I stop this hunger pang?
Well, the first thing you must know is that alcohol adds 7 cal/gram to your hips. Alcohol also increases your appetite levels for up to 24 hours after you finish drinking. Bar nuts, cheese and desserts then become extremely difficult to stay away from. Lesson learnt: Always eat well before you drink. Have your dinner early if you are going out for a party at night; drink in moderation and make sure you replace the lost fluids with adequate water consumed intermittently, throughout the night, between alcoholic beverages. SITUATION 3 On nights when I’m bored and depressed, food becomes my only solace. I search endlessly for solutions to life’s problems at the bottom of a bag of potato chips. I’ve looked for God at the end of a stack of pakodas and I’ve tried to find the true meaning of life in decadent, rich chocolate! I don’t know how to stop this… The following list may not have the yummiest food options but they are definitely the healthiest, most accessible and guilt-free midnight nibblers that you can choose from:
Lesson learnt: Detaching yourself from emotional eating would be the first step in helping yourself. Exercise for 20 minutes in the evening. Physical activity releases endorphins in your body, which make you feel good. Leave postits on your fridge to remind yourself you aren’t hungry, just out of touch with your emotions. It’s the ‘emotional’ part of ‘emotional eating’ that needs attention. That taken care of, you won’t feel hungry late at night.
The good news is that eating at night doesn’t necessarily lead to weight gain: Despite the die-hard myth that calories consumed at night are metabolized more slowly than those consumed by day, the truth is that it’s how many calories you consume — not when you consume them — that matters.