5 Step Guide to Beating Late Night Cravings
A craving is defined as a great or strong desire. However, the word craving brings up connotations of yearning, denying, deprivation, and struggle. The diet industry has taught us that cravings are evil little monsters that need to be destroyed without exception. I would disagree. I believe that a craving is a way for our body to tell our mind that it needs something. The goal is to figure out what, why, and how we can give our body what it’s craving.
Step 1: Nourish yourself throughout the day. Oftentimes, cravings result when the body hasn’t been given the nutrients it needs to survive and thrive. In today’s world of processed food and calorie deprivation, many people aren’t getting the nutrition they need from the food they consume. Focusing on eating whole foods throughout the day will ensure that your body has what it needs and doesn’t need to scream for more at night.
Step 2: Drink a glass of water. Studies show that up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Additionally, hunger and thirst are registered by the same part of the brain, so the signals can easily be mixed. If you are having a late night craving, it’s possible your body is just dehydrated. I recommend drinking a large glass of water and waiting 10 minutes before reaching for a snack.
Step 3: Do something different. It’s also possible that rather than food, your body is craving excitement. Have you ever noticed that you don’t have cravings when you’re out and about? It’s only when you’re home on your couch and the food is within arms reach. This is because your body is craving stimulation, and the easiest way to satisfy that craving is with food. Try taking a walk, putting on some music, or taking a bath — anything to give your body something new and different. Oftentimes mixing up your routine will satisfy a craving either more than food.
Step 4: Listen to the craving. If neither of the strategies above satisfies your craving, listen to it! It’s possible that your body is lacking some nutrients that it needs, and it is calling you to feed it. This is especially true if you get cravings consistently. I recommend having a few small whole-food snacks on hand that will satisfy your craving. For a sweet craving, I have tea with almond milk or half a protein bar. For salty, I have cashews or half an avocado with salt. Brainstorm some snacks you enjoy and can keep on hand for when a craving hits! The key is to limit the portion size so that you’re not eating too much right before bed.
Step 5: Celebrate! Eating to satisfy your craving does not mean you’ve lost this battle. In fact, you’ve won. Every time you listen to what your body needs and respond accordingly, you take one step closer to your natural state and your natural weight. Take note of what your body was craving, and remember to incorporate more of it into your daily life. Your cravings will slowly start to fade until you forget what it was like to battle the refrigerator every night.
The main takeaway here is that cravings are not to be feared or punished. They are our body’s way of communicating with us and asking for what it needs. Try out the steps above and let me know how they work for you!