Causes of night hunger

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Causes of night hunger
Causes of night hunger

Find out how harmful it is to eat at night and what foods you can eat so as not to harm your health and not gain excess muscle mass. Many people cannot fall asleep if they have not eaten before. Without realizing it, they have thus created a habit that is difficult to consider useful. For many, eating before bed has become as much a tradition as breakfast. As a result, you should not be surprised at the appearance of extra pounds.

Today the habit of eating late at night is widespread. We will try to answer why we want to eat at night and how to avoid it. It makes no sense to separate the concepts of "eat at night" and "eat at night." This is due to the fact that these habits are based on the same characteristics of the human body and psychological motives.

Note that when talking about "eat at night", we mean a hearty meal after seven in the evening. If you consume a small amount of, say, cottage cheese, two hours before going to bed, then there is nothing wrong with that. For example, all professional bodybuilders do this to slow down their nighttime catabolic processes.

Can I eat food at night?

Girl eating sweets at night near the refrigerator
Girl eating sweets at night near the refrigerator

Before telling why we want to eat at night, we should find out the positive and negative consequences of this act. You must remember that the work of the body at night has significant differences from the daytime. Now we will consider only a part of the processes that are directly related to our topic:

  1. In the evening, there is a gradual decrease in the activity of the digestive system - as a result, almost all late meal remains in the stomach and is practically not processed. This leads to the formation of a large amount of toxins, since putrefaction processes are activated. In the morning, the food processing process resumes and all harmful substances are in the bloodstream. It is quite obvious that such "fuel" is not the best for the coming working day. In addition, you should remember that heavy foods and foods with various chemical additives take a long time to process.
  2. A full stomach at night puts pressure on other internal organs - this leads to a slowdown in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients and negatively affects the quality of sleep.
  3. In a dream, a person practically does not move - all carbohydrates that enter the body in the evening will be converted into fat. Scientists are confident that a heavy meal at night contributes to the development of obesity no less in comparison with a sedentary lifestyle.
  4. The synthesis of hormonal substances slows down - a decrease in the rate of melatonin production negatively affects the quality of sleep, and an imbalance between catabolic and anabolic hormones contributes to the activation of aging processes.

If you want to know more interesting facts about the effects of nighttime snacks on the body, there is a large number of materials based on the results of scientific research on the Internet.

Why people want to eat at night - the main reasons

Girl with a sad face examines the contents of the refrigerator
Girl with a sad face examines the contents of the refrigerator

If we understand that it is harmful to eat food before going to bed, then why do we want to eat at night? It should be said right away that there is no consensus in academic circles on this score. If you call on logic for help, then you can draw the following conclusion - malnourished during the day, a person wants to eat at night. It is this explanation that seems to us the most accurate.

Another explanation for this phenomenon is often the high body fatigue accumulated during the day. But it should be remembered that night trips to the refrigerator are directly related to psychology. Often people eat food at night due to emotional problems, for example, the day was not the best or there was a strong stressful situation. As a result, the brain needs some kind of compensation for the lack of positive emotions.

We are all very familiar with one of the most popular ways to deal with stress - seizing. At the same time, each person understands that it is harmful, but continues to follow the established habit. If you eat often at night, then at some point the habit will become an ailment, which psychologists call Overeating Syndrome.

This ailment is dangerous not only because it leads to weight gain, but also disrupts the work of the whole body. First of all, we are talking about hormonal imbalance, which in turn can cause the development of more serious ailments. In the course of studies, it was found that a person who wakes up at night to eat food decreases the concentration of melatonin and thereby disrupts sleep.

Also, scientists have found a violation of the synthesis of hormonal substances such as leptin and cortisol. As a reminder, they are responsible for suppressing hunger and stress. At the same time, many experts are sure that the habit of eating at night is directly related to hormonal imbalance, and improper nutrition can lead to this. As you can see, scientists cannot yet give an intelligible answer to the question, why do we want to eat at night?

Is it possible to determine the presence of night binge eating syndrome on your own?

The guy eats in bed at night
The guy eats in bed at night

We will now list the main symptoms of this phenomenon:

  • Frequent craving for a snack late in the evening or at night.
  • You cannot sleep for a long time, and in the middle of the night you wake up hungry.
  • In the morning you have no appetite and you feel discomfort when eating food.
  • Most of the calories are consumed in the evening.
  • Anxiety and guilt often arise when eating food at night.
  • You experience frequent stress, a bad mood, and outbursts of aggression and nervousness.

The risks of acquiring nighttime overeating syndrome increase significantly with excess weight or bad habits. If for 30 days you observe the first and second symptoms in combination with any of the remaining ones, then we recommend visiting an endocrinologist and gastroenterologist. Unfortunately, there is currently no effective therapy for binge eating disorder. However, experts can help you keep your appetite and sleep in check by making some lifestyle changes.

Note that among the reasons for the desire to eat food at night there may be problems with the work of the digestive system, for example, gastritis. Agree, this is another good reason to visit a doctor and understand the situation. Often this ailment is latent, and a person may not even be aware of its presence.

What can you eat in the evening?

A girl with a pensive face looks into the refrigerator
A girl with a pensive face looks into the refrigerator

We have already said that professional athletes, in particular bodybuilders, eat food before bed. This suggests that some foods are still allowed during this time period. In practice, this is the case, and certain foods will not only be safe, but even useful. Let's deal with this issue as well.

For many people, the whole doctrine of proper nutrition in the evening and at night fits into one postulate - after six or seven hours, food should not be eaten. But you must remember that proper nutrition involves the absence of hunger, which in this case is almost impossible. If you force yourself to refuse to eat, then at some point you will break down and only aggravate the situation. It should also be remembered that fasting has a negative effect on the functioning of the whole body. So what can you eat in the evening?

Light protein foods

Meat is also a source of protein, but this is a heavy product and should not be consumed in the evening. If you cannot do without it, then give preference to low-fat varieties and eat the product in small quantities. But you can safely afford low-fat yogurt and kefir. Fish or a couple of slices of cooked chicken are also good choices.

Eat a minimum of carbs in the afternoon

You probably know that it is the extra carbohydrates that the body converts into fat. We have already said that in the evening the digestive system begins to work in a sparing mode and it is undesirable to consume carbohydrates at this time. However, we remember that this nutrient can be different, and you will not be full of protein compounds alone. An excellent example of a healthy evening meal can be a vegetable salad with a slice of cheese, as well as a glass of low-fat kefir or yogurt.

The last meal should take place at least two hours before bedtime

The only exception to this rule is a glass of fat-free kefir. This product does not contain carbohydrates and has a positive effect on the functioning of the digestive system.

The famous American psychologist Albert Stankard devoted a lot of time to researching the problems of night binge eating syndrome. As a result, he is confident that the main reason for his development is improper nutrition throughout the day. For people suffering from this ailment, he created a special dietary nutrition program. It does not contain any major innovations and, on the whole, complies with generally accepted standards of proper nutrition.

How to deal with the habit of eating at night?

Girl eats at night sitting in the kitchen
Girl eats at night sitting in the kitchen

We have already said that there is no effective therapy for the treatment of night binge syndrome. The only way to fight so far is to change the way of life. Here are the basic steps to be taken by all people who frequently eat food at night.

  1. Eat healthily throughout the day. Don't skip breakfast. One study found that women who ate more food during their first meal compared to dinner were able to lose weight faster. If you consume enough calories in the morning and at lunchtime, then in the evening you will not be woken up by a strong feeling of hunger.
  2. Try to eat only healthy foods. Some people are likely to find it difficult to quickly change their eating habits. We recommend that you give up harmful products gradually.
  3. Avoid foods that stimulate serotonin synthesis. This applies to flour products and sweets. However, it is not necessary to completely abandon these dishes. It is enough to replace harmful products with useful analogs. For example, instead of chocolates, eat a marshmallow or a piece of dark chocolate.
  4. Strengthen volitional qualities. It has already been said above that people often eat food without feeling hungry. You need to learn to distinguish between real hunger and psychological one. This will get rid of a lot of problems. If you cannot do this on your own, then seek help from a specialist.
  5. If there is no way to skip nighttime snacks, make them healthy. You already know what foods can be safely consumed in the evening. If you want to eat at night, grab an apple or drink a glass of freshly squeezed juice. But the store should be abandoned.

For more information on why you want to eat at night, see the video: