Picture this scenario —- you can’t fall asleep so you turn on the TV or pick up a book to read. You feel a bit hungry so you grab a bag of chips, and before you know it, you have consumed 2 bags along with half a tub of ice-cream.
If that is how most of your nights go, you are prone to midnight snacking. And yes, that isn’t doing you any favours.
But before you start to fight those craving, let us understand why you are snacking at midnight, despite having eaten a healthy dinner.
What Triggers Midnight Snacking?
Studies reveal that women are more prone to midnight snacking. But with that being said, a substantial percentage of men today, are also snacking in the wee hours of the night. New research done by scientists at the Brigham Young University explains this well. They have found that the brain’s response to food is dulled in the evening.
What it this means is that while you are eating a hearty dinner, your brain doesn’t find that food as rewarding in the evenings, especially if you’ve had a long day. In order to feel satiated from food, you tend to eat more than usual, and turn towards delicious snacks post midnight. It is not satisfying to eat at night, so you start to eat more.
However, this leads to a chain of events that is further triggering mid-night snacking. How is that? Studies show that eating late at night interrupts a healthy sleep pattern. Since your stomach is working hard to digest the food, you feel more alert. You have disturbed sleep, so you tend to wake up late. You don’t have enough time in the morning, so you usually skip breakfast.
According to a study published in the journal Circulation, skipping a morning meal and enjoying late-night munchies result in a higher risk for heart attack and coronary disease in men. It’s also worth mentioning that since you ate so late the previous night, you don’t really crave breakfast as much as you should. So you see — it is this vicious cycle that is encouraging you to snack at night and skip your breakfast.
Another thing to consider is that a modern man today is often overworked. With higher career aspirations comes late working hours, and hence, lesser quality time spent at home.
Most men try to make up for the loss by staying awake late into the night — this could be time they spend with the family, catching last night’s game on TV, checking personal email or reading a book, and so on. As a result, men become more prone to midnight snacking, since they are awake for hours after dinnertime.
What is the Solution?
If your lifestyle requires you to stay up late into the night and you find yourself hungry post dinner, healthy snacking could be the solution to your problem. There is no harm in grabbing a handful of nuts to munch on if you cannot fall asleep and suffering hunger pangs. These have high fiber, protein and carbs, and will make you feel nicely full so that you can drift off to sleep.
Also, a fruit like apple or pear also makes a healthy midnight snack. As long as you avoid chips, ice-cream and leftover pizza from dinner (basically all high-calorie foods) at midnight, you don’t have to rob yourself of the joys of eating something small just before bedtime.