Evening and Late Night Snacking- How to Control Them:

Night and evening eating is usually the result of either actual hunger or more likely cravings. Nothing can sabotage a weight loss plan like loss of control of food intake during the evening. Research has found that  hedonic hunger(eating for pleasure) far exceeds energy deficits(lack of food)  when it comes to eating between the evening meal and bedtime. Cravings, a need for certain pleasure producing foods(usually sweets or salts)  is strongly influenced by the availability and palatability of the food in the home. There are many impulses to eat including both external and internal factors:

1.Seeking food because its “time to eat”–lunchtime or dinner, visual clues such as smells or TV ads
2.Eating because it reduces fear, anxiety and depression.–people will often eat  without a conscious feeling of hunger. They have learned over years and years that the physical act of eating reduces many negative feelings.
3. Eating when thirst is the driving feeling or often low blood sugar.
4. Eating when food has been absent for a period to time. 

Hormonal Factors Encourage Eating

There are many hormonal factors that interact with many pleasure producing foods that provoke the desire to eat in the absence of real hunger. A similar system accounts for much of the pleasure from alcohol and drugs-both legal and legal.  Receptors in our brains interact with external stimuli including foods, drugs and alcohol to produce pleasure producing neurochemicals as outlined below.

Uncontrolled cravings can be reduced by sustituting “look-a-likes”–foods and drinks which look similar with similar taste, smell and texture that also stimulate the release of peptides but without the high calories and high carbs. This is outlined in the above figure.

 8 Simple Techniques to Help Control Cravings

1. If it’s not in the house you cannot eat it!
2. Limit major carbs-pasta, potatoes, beans, rice which produce hunger in several hours
3. Limit alcohol which limits inhibitions and produces hunger
4. Shorten the interval from dinner to bedtime—this reduces the available time to eat pleasure producing foods.
5. Make sure you have enough food for dinner. This prevents actual hunger latter in the evening.
6. Limit eating to periods of true hunger-if possible.
7. Substitute the high calorie, high carb snacks with the “look-a-likes” that have no or almost no carbs, low calories and easy portion control.
8. If all else fails, try a medication such as Topamax, Proprion, Qsymia or Contrave to help block the cravings as outlined above.