17 Dec

There are a variety of reasons for nighttime food cravings.

Luckily, there are also a lot of different methods for combatting these cravings.

Try one idea at a time until you find the one or ones that work for you!


  • Hormone imbalance
    • Hormones such as ghrelin, leptin, estrogen, cortisol and serotonin all play a part in triggering food cravings. The levels of these hormones are influenced by things like stress, sleep deprivation and / or a woman’s menstrual cycle.
  • Sensory stimulation
    • This may seem obvious but the sight, taste, smell or even the thought of certain foods trigger cravings.
  • Relationship with food
    • If food represents comfort or love for you, food cravings slide in to save the day!


  • At the end of the day, we tend to let down our guard and we become more relaxed.
  • If night time brings more loneliness or boredom than daytime, comfort food might become more and more irresistible as the sun goes down!
  • If you watch television, you are bombarded with images of yummy food!
  • Many people spend more time socializing at night than during the day. These interpersonal interactions complicate all food choice challenges.


  • Setup a code-word system with a fitness partner or a friend. You can call this friend at the moment when the craving hits but you can also just email or text the code-word and wait for the response. This will help you feel supported at this moment of weakness.
  • Find a fitness support group and ask them to brainstorm even more ideas with you.
  • Hang up posters or pictures or anything that helps you visualize your fitness goal. Let those visuals help you stay focused.
  • Before eating, calculate how much activity you’d need to do in order to burn the calories in the tempting food. Estimate a mile for every 70 calories or 7-10 minutes of hard exercise for every cookie. That might shed new light on that cookie.
  • Think of other situations in your life where self-control is easy. Although you might like that new pair of shoes, you wouldn’t steal to get them, right? If you can control yourself in one area of your life, tell yourself that you can use those same feelings in other areas including your nighttime cravings battles.
  • Brush your teeth and use mouthwash as soon as the craving hits. This works for some people since they don’t want to get their mouth dirty again.
  • Take a bath or shower. It’s pretty hard to eat in the water.
  • Fiber rich diets are critical! Soluble fiber maintains blood sugar. Insoluble fiber maintains that full feeling. Make sure you’re eating enough fiber throughout the day.
  • Don’t trick yourself into thinking that sugar substitutes can be used without harm. They can’t. Artificial sweeteners actually contribute to weight gain! The longer you abstain from sweets, the easier it is to live without them! Try going at least 3-5 days without sugar. When you do, you’ll be making great progress in changing your body’s response to sugar. It’s a fact! If you are motivated by learning more about how sugar impacts your body, check this out because there is some great sugar specific information and recommendations here.
  • Snack on frozen fruit or berries! They are nutritious and low calorie!
  • Drink more water. Green tea suppresses appetite. So, guess what your new, favorite drink is?
  • Make sure that you eat breakfast within the first hour of waking and continue to eat at least every five hours. This will maintain your blood sugar levels.
  • If you must eat, eat high volume, low calorie, high nutrient foods like veggies, popcorn (no butter, or course), or some other healthy snack.
  • Eat dinner a little later in the evening. If you eat dinner at 7pm instead of 6pm, that gives you less time for snacking before bedtime. And, make your mid-day meal larger than your evening meal. If you eat a small dinner at 7pm and then have a high volume, low calorie snack at 8 or 9pm, you’ll be ok!
  • Freeze leftovers right away. That way, there is less tempting food available for nighttime snacking.
  • While in the heat of the craving battles, keep your home  junk food snack free! If it’s not there, you won’t eat it!
  • Do some self-talk “scrubbing.” Observe what unhelpful thoughts run through your mind. Create a plan to replace unhelpful thoughts with helpful thoughts.
  • Post a list of actions and / or activities that you can do when a craving hits. Consider doing a crossword puzzle, doing sit-ups, going for a walk, playing a new computer game, planning your menu, working on a craft, reading a book, organizing your photographs, writing, or looking for a new social activity. Whatever works, do that!

I’d love to hear your ideas for dealing with nighttime cravings. Let’s see if we can increase the options on this list!


  1. Kae Friesen December 17, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    Some excellent ideas Lea!

    • leazengage December 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

      Yeah! Glad you think so. 🙂 Thanks

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