Foods and Activities that Help Satisfy Cravings
How do you stop yourself from nighttime binging? You have the power to control your body’s food cravings. Take charge by eating foods and doing activities that reduce the desire to snack on junk food.
It’s normal to have snack cravings. Doesn’t mean you’re hungry. It does mean something inside of you is driving you to satisfy an urge to eat. There’s no particular food you’re looking for. But you have to eat something to make that strong force in you go away. If you’re not careful, you’ll consume several things. You’ll go to bed feeling miserable because you pigged out on carbs, sweets, junk food – anything other than a small serving of nutritious food.
I’ve been there. I still get there. A sudden urging surfaces like a voice that demands, “GO EAT. I WON’T BE SATISFIED UNTIL YOU DO.” Obediently, I hurry to the pantry or fridge to find a snack that will satisfy that unidentifiable food craving.
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What causes nighttime binging, and what can you do to control it?
Families with children, single people, or couples deal with these four common causes of binging (day or night):
- poor diet habits
- lack of sleep
The American way of life is stressful. Our emotions get out of whack from hormones. Difficult situations happen. Demands are put upon us. Stress factors are endless.
You’d think that as busy as we are, boredom would not be a problem. But it is. You may feel bored because you don’t have an activity that you enjoy, you’re single and living on your own now, you don’t have close friends, you moved to a new city and don’t know anyone, you lost your spouse and feel alone, or you’re faced with the empty-nest syndrome.
To soothe your emotions, you eat or watch TV – and eat. And if you’re not getting enough sleep, you may feel lethargic, frustrated, or irritable throughout the day. What can you do to control the binging brought on by the four causes mentioned here?
Develop healthy hobbies.
It doesn’t matter if you have a family of one, two, or more, everyone needs hobbies. Replace bad habits (like the ones in the first list below) with good ones (second list below):
- waking up late
- being in a hurry to leave in the mornings
- staying up too late
- not eating enough nutritious foods consistently
- cramming too many things on our schedules
- no time for individual hobbies
- too much television
- lack of organization
Which ones of these eight bad habits do you struggle with? Turn those bad habits into good ones, such as:
- Set your alarm an hour earlier than you normally do.
- Allow yourself extra time to eat breakfast in the mornings (even if it’s a slice of raisin/cinnamon bread).
- Set two alarms in the evenings: two hours before bedtime and another thirty minutes before – then go to bed.
- Buy a cookbook (or look online) with nutritious recipes that you like, and try them out weekly.
- Plan a daily schedule, and stick to the necessary things to do for the day (don’t berate yourself if you don’t complete your things-to-do list.)
- Learn a hobby – Go to your local bookstore or library and browse through books of topics that interest you. Topics that sound interesting to you indicate those are the areas you should pursue to find a hobby.
- Limit your television watching to one or two days a week or thirty minutes a day if you must see it every day.
- Organize your house, office, kitchen, etc. Lack of organization can make you feel irritable.
Eat nutritious snacks
Peanut butter may help. It has fiber and protein to make you feel full. The last time a sudden nighttime craving hit, I ate a teaspoon of peanut butter. That’s it. And I told myself, “STOP! You’re not hungry.” I found other things to do to distract myself away from the kitchen. For example, I love to read but because I get so busy, it takes me a long time to read a whole book. I’ve started reading one or two chapters often in the evenings before going to sleep.
Eat an apple if you’re craving sweets. I learned a snack habit from my mother years ago – dipping apple slices in peanut butter. Though I wouldn’t suggest the combination all the time, it can help satisfy a desire for sweet and salty foods.
Snack on a handful of raw organic pecans – may be beneficial for weight loss and anti-inflammatory and digestion problems.
Treat yourself to your favorite yogurt – this might help combat ice cream cravings.
Crackers and cheese (a limited amount) can satisfy the I-don’t-know-what-I-want-to-snack-on feelings.
These are only suggestions of foods that have helped me with nighttime snack cravings. You may have tried other snacks that have helped. Make your own list, and keep those foods handy in the fridge and pantry at all times. That way, you won’t make yourself miserable with unhealthy junk food right before you go to bed.
Activities to Help Satisfy Nighttime Food Cravings
Distract your desire for nighttime snack cravings with alternatives, things you enjoy doing that you don’t have much time for during the day, like:
- reading a book, at least a chapter or two. This may even help you fall asleep.
- working out for thirty minutes. Drink water afterward (or mix half water and half juice) or relax with a cup of hot tea.
- taking a hot relaxing bath with lavender essential oil
- calling a friend or family member to chat for a few minutes
- looking at your favorite magazine
- reading a story to your children or grandchildren
- other – add to the list
Try the nighttime snack craving solutions suggested here, and create your own. We’re all different and what may work for one won’t for another. Remember, you will experience all kinds of changes throughout life. What worked for you before might not be so effective the next time.
Our bodies change. Situations change. And where there is change, emotions kick in. Practicing healthy diet habits, eating nutritious snacks and foods, getting enough sleep, and enjoying relaxing and fun activities can be beneficial in your overall health – and help you control the nighttime food binging.