Are late-night cravings sabotaging your health efforts? You’re not alone! Cravings can feel irresistible and seemingly impossible to overcome. However, there are a few reasons why you may be craving not-so-healthy foods at night.
Here are a few of our best tips to reduce late night cravings:
Balance Your Blood Sugar
Your blood sugar fluctuations may be to blame for late-night sugar cravings.
Your body has a specific way of keeping your blood sugar levels in balance. For example, when you eat carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels rise and your body releases a hormone called insulin. This hormone is responsible for reducing your blood sugar levels back to normal.
When picturing blood sugar levels, it’s best to avoid drastic, “roller coaster” fluctuations. These sharp highs and lows lead to frequent hunger and irresistible cravings.
Here are a few tips to avoid these extreme blood sugar shifts:
- Avoid eating “naked carbs” AKA high-carb foods without an accompanying protein or fat.
- When choosing carb sources, pick ones that are high in fiber. Refer to our blog for some examples: Top 10 Best Veggies For Keto
- Increase the fat in your diet. Fat slows carbohydrate absorption and minimizes blood fluctuations.
Avoid Distracted (or Mindless) Eating
Have you ever eaten in the car, while watching TV, or when scrolling Instagram? Don’t worry! We all have done it. However, distracted eating may increase late night cravings, especially if it develops into a habit.
For this reason, try to eat most of your meals in dedicated areas, like the kitchen table or island. Constantly eating on the couch, for example, may form a bad habit that tricks your brain into thinking you are hungry every time you sit down to watch a movie or your favorite show.
Keeping eating areas separate from entertainment areas (at least most of the time) can help avoid this habit formation and reduce late-night cravings.
Set Up Your Environment for Success
As humans, we tend to choose the path of least resistance. Meaning, we like things to be easy! This isn’t a bad thing, but we have to optimize our environment if we want to reduce late-night cravings, change our habits, and improve our health.
Keep tempting “junk food” out of your line of sight. For some people, this means eliminating all foods that don’t support your new lifestyle from your home. However, if you live with other family members or roommates that aren’t on the same health journey, you can simply move these foods to the back of the pantry or refrigerator to make them less visible to you when those late-night cravings hit!
On the other hand, keep nourishing and health-promoting foods at eye level. This is a common method used by grocery stores referred to as “eye level, buy level.” Products easily visible at eye-level are more likely to be chosen over less visible items. You can optimize on this trick by keeping healthy, grab-and-go snacks at eye level in the refrigerator and pantry.
Here are a few healthy snack ideas to keep on hand:
- Chopped veggies and guacamole
- Cheese sticks and fruit, like berries
- Full-fat yogurt
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Nut butter
- Unsweetened fat bombs
- Kale chips
- Nuts and seeds
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is a powerful weight-loss tool that can also help reduce your late-night cravings. Sleeping less than five hours per night causes an imbalance in your appetite hormones. So, sleep-deprived people often feel constantly hungry and never satisfied thanks to an increase in your ghrelin (hunger) hormone, and a decrease in your leptin (fullness) hormone (1). In fact, one study showed that sleep-deprived participants consumed around 300 calories more than their well-rested counterparts (2). These extra calories often come from added sugar, as you may experience up to 40 percent more sugar cravings when sleep-deprived as well.
Aim to get 7 to 8 hours of high quality sleep each night. Keep your bedroom dark and at a cool temperature, and try to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, and stimulating TV shows too close to bedtime. Struggling with insomnia? Read some of our sleep blogs to help:
Lower Your Stress Levels
Along with poor quality sleep, high-stress levels may also be the underlying cause of your late-night cravings.
Chronic stress leads to elevation of a stress hormone called cortisol. This hormone has many functions in the body, but too much of it can lead to weight gain, insomnia, irritability, and food cravings.
While many people find success in using adaptogenic herbs—like ashwagandha—to balance cortisol levels, addressing your chronic stress is also crucial. Find a daily stress-reducing activity that you can incorporate into your life to reduce stress levels. Examples of effective cortisol lowering activities include meditation, yoga, journaling, therapy, walking in nature, and deep breathing exercises.
Enjoy Healthier Food Swaps
You don’t have to ignore your late-night cravings! Enjoying a healthier food swap is a great way to satisfy a craving without getting too off track. We have a variety of recipes in the 131 Method to help you feel satisfied and nourished. Refer to some of our favorite recipes below when those cravings hit!
When You’re Craving Something Sweet
When You’re Craving Something Salty
Late-Night Cravings: Address the Root Cause
Ultimately, the key to reducing late-night cravings is by addressing the root cause of the problem. Are you sleep-deprived? Stressed out? Forming unhealthy habits? Many of these issues, along with blood sugar fluctuations and poor diet, can lead to seemingly irresistible cravings at night. While none of us are perfect, addressing these factors may help you reduce food cravings and get you back on track in your journey to your best health yet!