Are you a regular victim of the late-night snack attack? Mindlessly munching on chips or diving head first into a pint of ice cream?
Research done at Harvard and the Oregon Health & Science University suggests that our natural body clock — also known as the circadian rhythm — programs us to reach for sweet, starchy, and salty foods in the evening.
This may have helped our ancestors survive when food was scarce, but today it only helps to widen our waistline. So how do you fight these late-night cravings?
It begins at the breakfast table, says registered dietitian and nutrition consultant Rachel Begun. Research shows that breakfast eaters are less likely to be overweight or overeat later in the day. So, no more skipping out on the first meal of the day.
To keep from opening the fridge when the sun goes down, get enough protein and fiber during daylight hours — you’ll feel fuller longer. Make sure your dinner is balanced and that you don’t eat it too early.
Also, turn off the TV, tablet and cell phone earlier in the evening. Too much screen time is linked to mindless eating.
And keep a food journal. If you do find yourself snacking, write down what you ate and how you were feeling at the time. Perhaps stress or boredom sent you running to the pantry. Next time, draw a relaxing bath or reach for a good book instead of the cookies.
To learn more about how the body’s internal circadian clock works, visit the National Sleep Foundation.