Food For Thought: The Biological Basis For Midnight Cravings
The almost-irresistible urge to indulge in a midnight snack happens to everybody at some point. Even though most people eat their largest meal at the dinner hour, many still have a powerful hankering for a snack after dinner and sometimes even after they have gone to bed.
As it turns out there may be a biological basis for our late-night cravings. Researchers at the Oregon Health and Sciences University recently released a study that suggests our appetites have a strong circadian rhythm that is "completely independent" of our meal times or sleep patterns. This inborn rhythm apparently hearkens back to a time when eating large meals at night would help our ancestors store energy in times of famine. Unfortunately, this once-useful survival tactic is now a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic in this country.
According to the study, the circadian rhythm influences not only "when" we are hungry but it also affects the types of foods that we crave at specific points in the day. For instance, it predisposes us to crave sweet, starchy or salty foods in the evening.
This doesn't mean you should throw in the towel and give in to the nighttime cravings that contribute to weight gain. What you can do instead is understand the power of these rhythms and take steps to mitigate the effects on your eating habits - and your waistline. If you're trying to lose weight, consider a healthy weight loss supplement such as MeraSlim. Mera-Slim is a proprietary natural weight loss formula that has been scientifically proven to significantly reduce weight, waist and hip size better than diet and exercise alone.
Going to bed at the same time each night and resisting the urge to stay up late can go a long way toward curbing your nocturnal cravings. The theory is that, if you stay up later, during a time when you are programmed to be hungrier, you're more likely to eat. If you go to bed earlier it is possible that you will sleep through at least some of the period during which your cravings might peak. It also means you will get more sleep, which can reduce your cravings for high-calorie foods during the day.
Another strategy is to rid your refrigerator and cupboards of those irresistible junk foods that "call your name" while you are sitting on your couch watching television or reading a book in the den. Replace those high-calorie snacks with healthy alternatives like fresh fruit, granola bars, low-fat yogurt or sunflower seeds. This is especially important in cases where you have limited control over your sleep patterns because you work at night, have a new baby or frequently travel and change time zones.
When you think about it, this is the ultimate paradox and proof that life isn't fair. Shouldn't we be hungry when we wake up after not eating for eight hours? Shouldn't we be sated at bedtime since we generally eat our largest meal in the evening? The bottom line is that "it is what it is" and understanding what drives our cravings helps us overcome them.
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