Snacking is a very normal thing. It could be something salty, starchy or sweet. It, however, becomes problematic when you are constantly craving sweets at night.
Eventually, you realize you need that extra sweet right around the evening? Here is why this could be happening.
WHY DO YOU CRAVE SWEETS AT NIGHT?
1. OUR BODIES VIEW SNACKS AS A ‘REWARD.’
Our bodies are genetically predisposed to seek snacks as a ‘reward’ through the brain’s reward system.
The mind, therefore, triggers a dopamine release whenever the body is rewarded with a snack. The release of dopamine, therefore, convinces the body that snacks are just that good.
2. SUGAR IS VERY ADDICTIVE
The sugar consumed from snacks is very addictive. According to some studies, sugar from snacks is actually just as, if not more addictive than some street drugs.
3. ITS A COPING MECHANISM
Unknown to many snacking actually borrows from a coping mechanism developed by the body centuries ago.
Evolution theorists believe humans have always had the urge to consume high-calorie foods in the evening.
This is because their bodies required high-calorie foods to cope with periods of food scarcity.
According to certain studies, this triggers the internal circadian system to demand high calories, especially in the evening.
This is considering sugar tolerance is impaired in the evening, which leads to the storage of these calories as fat.
4. BLOOD SUGAR IMBALANCE
Cravings at night also stem from blood sugar imbalance. When you are craving sweets at night, the sugar from the sweets you ingest makes your blood sugar rise.
As a result, your body releases insulin to regulate the blood sugar level to a safe level. However, there is a possibility that your blood sugar level can be regulated to too low a level.
As such, the body craves high-calorie foods to raise the blood sugar level and release more energy. This prompts a back, and forth that can be hard to curb.
5. HORMONAL IMBALANCE
Some hormones affect appetites such as leptin, ghrelin and peptide YY. Their deficiency can also lead to craving sweets at night.
Cravings walk a fine between hunger and thirst, this lack of clarity confuses even the body. As such, there are certain times when the body misconstrues thirst for hunger.
This, therefore, leads to high-calorie cravings at night whilst in actuality what you need is water. It is therefore recommended to try to drink some water as soon as a food craving hit.
7. EXCESSIVE CALORIE RESTRICTION
Often, if you’re actively seeking to lose weight, calorie restriction is a viable option. However, this can often lead to an increased appetite.
This can prompt snacking habits which are nothing but caloric trouble. It is therefore recommended to train your body to desire food only during specific times of the day.
This can by structuring your diet to ensure that you eat only during specific times. You train the body to realize there are times to expect food and when not to.
8. CONSUMING ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS WITHOUT LIMIT
Artificial sweeteners have camouflaging properties of sorts. Whilst it is true artificial sweeteners have lower calories than sugar-sweetened sweets it doesn’t present the full picture
Artificial sweeteners are very potent; as such, they can overstimulate sugar receptors. As a result, this could prompt less potent foods such as fruits less desirable
This, therefore, means that you are left craving sweets at night as they seem more desirable. You should thus be intentional with exactly how much artificially sweetened foods you consume.
9. NUTRIENT DEFICIENCY
There are instances where craving sweets at night might be a result of having certain nutrient deficiencies.
Some of these nutrients include:
Magnesium regulates glucose and inulin levels within the body. Insulin is vital as it is responsible for controlling blood sugar.
High or blood sugar determines how much energy and consequentially the kind of calories the body demands.
This can, therefore lead to sugar cravings.
Zinc is used in the metabolism of metabolism and glucose. As such, a deficiency in zinc increases the likelihood of a deficiency in glucose and insulin.
This prompts the body to demand sugary foods which can instigate craving sweets at night.
VITAMIN B COMPLEX
Vitamin B complex is largely involved with carbohydrates. They are crucial in carbohydrates metabolization and are determine the way the carbs you eat are utilized.
This, therefore, means they indicate to the body whether what you have consumed is enough. Deficiency in the vitamin B complex, therefore leads to an increased appetite, especially for high-carb foods.
An enzyme created in the pancreas and is mostly used in breaking down and burning fat. However, traces of lipase are present in the blood and are therefore constantly fluctuating depending on the blood sugar.
As such, its deficiency can lead to sugar craving.
Fortunately, there are various ways you can rein in the desire of craving sweets at night. We look at some tips that can help you get yourself on track.
10. RESORTING TO SNACKS WHEN HUNGRY
It is important to take into consideration that cravings are not the same thing as being hungry. Cravings are linked to the brain’s reward system whereby the brain calls for something that releases dopamine.
This is why cravings at night can be so hard to ignore. However, giving in to the addiction is part of what fuels it.
If you develop a habit of constantly heeding to your cravings, the body will believe that is what it should always expect.
This creates a culture of constant cravings at night.
Stress often triggers a response from the body in the form of ‘stress hormone’ – cortisol. This, in turn, prompts the release of glucose from the liver.
As a result, this triggers a body response, similar to a sugar spike, leading to cravings.
12. LACK OF SLEEP
Lack of sleep often leaves the body extremely fatigued. As a result, the body responds by demanding energy to recuperate.
This, therefore, prompts the desire for high-calorie, high sugar food content which induces cravings.
Some of the ways you can use to curb these cravings include:
HAVING HEALTHY FOOD ALTERNATIVES AROUND
If you actually are hungry, and your body is craving snacks having healthy pre-cooked meals is a great option. By having healthy food around you constantly, you leave little room to fall back on the high-calorie snacks.
Exercise, whether low-impact or high-impact, can be very engaging. If you haven’t really gotten into exercise something as simple as power walking or riding a bike can help with your cravings.
According to a 2015 study, chocolate cravings among a group of overweight people reduced due to exercising.
The act of exercising thus proved more effective than sitting idly.
EAT MORE PROTEIN
Proteins have a filling property that should reduce cravings at night. A total amount of about 35 grams is recommended for maximum effect.
According to studies, it is believed that a dietary uptake of up to 25% in your total calorie intake can lead to a reduction in food cravings.
WHAT SHOULD I EAT WHEN I’M CRAVING SWEETS AT NIGHT?
Your body craving sweets is purely about your body seeking a dopamine release. To cope with this, you could eat a number of alternative foods to take the edge off. They include:
Meat, poultry and fish
As mentioned before, the body is naturally adept at seeking foods in the mould of snacks. Snacking should, therefore, not be a problem as long as you can control yourself.
This doesn’t mean giving in to the craving that will only fuel an overdependence on sweet foods. That said, cravings can be extremely hard to overcome and requires copious amounts of self-discipline.
The safest way to curb cravings is, therefore avoiding sweet foods altogether. This trains the body not to expect such foods, and after a while, the cravings will eventually disappear.