It’s an all-too-familiar tale. The clock strikes 11 pm. You’re on the sofa, curled up, watching Netflix… and then you hear it. Your stomach starts to rumble and grumble. It’s getting louder. You can’t ignore it any longer. In a moment of madness, you leap up and head straight to the fridge. It’s time for a less than healthy snack.
You are what you eat (at night)
A massive 60% of people say that they are guilty of nighttime snacking, according to a new study by the University of Arizona Health Sciences. Participants in the study were asked about their sleeping patterns, food cravings and eating habits. They were also quizzed on their sleep issues and whether they had any existing health problems.
The results were telling of how what we eat impacts our health. For example, the researchers found that eating late at night is linked to a higher risk of diabetes. They also discovered that a lack of sleep or sleepless nights was linked to high junk food cravings as well as obesity, diabetes, and other health complaints.
“Sleep is increasingly recognised as an important factor in health, alongside nutrition,” explained lead author, Christopher Sanchez, UA undergraduate nutrition and dietetics major, “This study shows how sleep and eating patterns are linked and work together to promote health.”
How to solve the problem
While we all know that we shouldn’t be snacking late at night, solving the problem is often harder than it sounds. It’s not merely about denying yourself that extra bag of crisps while you’re watching TV. Instead, it’s about changing your lifestyle so that you no longer feel the need to overeat when you’re bored or simply having some down-time. Here are a few things that you should try:
Create a regular sleep routine
Staying up late to binge-watch your favourite series may seem like no big deal, but it could be hindering your health more than you know. Sticking to a regular sleep pattern means that you’ll get more ZZZ’s at night and boost your health. Some of the major sleep benefits include improved memory, lower stress levels, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Eat at the same time each day
We all have busy lives but sticking to a regular routine is a smart move. You could also try meal-planning at the start of each week so that you know what you plan to eat each day. Once you get into a pattern of eating at the same time each day, you should find that you can monitor what you eat on a day-to-day basis. That in itself will help you to curb your snacking.
Fuel up on protein-packed food
But wait, what if you’re just plain hungry all the time? If that’s the case, it may be time to shake up your diet. Fueling up on protein-packed, yet healthy, food is certainly the way to go. Healthy sources of plant-based protein include legumes, leafy greens, and nuts. Using these ingredients in your recipes could be the change that you need.
There’s not just one secret to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Taking care of your mind and body is a journey and you have to work hard at it each and every day. Making sure that you get the sleep you need, eat well, and exercise is a great place to start.