Managing Midnight Munchies!
It’s 1:00 am and you’re standing in front of the refrigerator. You think you are hungry and struggle with a familiar internal dialogue: “I can’t sleep if I’m hungry.” “I’ve followed my diet all day and I need a treat.” “I’ll only choose low-calories, healthy foods. A little bit won’t hurt.” You may find it helpful to explore the reasons for wanting to eat and then choose the most healthful action. You might:
- Determine what you are really feeling and thinking and then decide what action would meet that need. For example, if you are not truly hungry what is the reason you want a snack? Is it because a favorite food is in sight? If so, keeping the food out of the house might be an answer. Or is it because you are lonely? Then making plans to visit or talk with a friend could be part of the solution.
- After assessing your reasons for wanting to eat, you could think of something else to do for fifteen or twenty minutes (like reading, stretching or writing a note to a friend). By allowing time between the food craving (thought) and actually eating, you may find that the craving has passed.
- If your food cravings are still very strong after waiting the brief time period, you could decide to have a small portion of the desired food or try a new, lower-calorie substitute. Buying food in pre-portioned amounts or pre-portioning them once at home helps control over eating. By limiting the amount consumed late at night you can wake up hungry in the morning and start the day off with a satisfying breakfast.
- Add exercise to the evening schedule. A walk after dinner, water aerobics or a Tai Chi class all might help alleviate stress and promote more restful sleep as long as they are done early enough in the evening. (Vigorous exercise late evening may actually increase sleeplessness.)
- Practice deep breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing exercises (breathing deeply with abdominal muscles) can be especially helpful in reducing anxiety and agitation. Deep, relaxed breathing also helps promote restful sleep.