An April 2013 study, in the journal Obesity suggested that our circadian rhythm may be the cause of nightly food cravings. Our internal body clock, also known as circadian rhythm, evolutionarily would cause us to consume an abundance of calories to survive in times of famine. But why at night? Hunting and other survival tasks took precedence over eating much during the day. Presumably a similar “food banking for famine” pattern presents itself if you skip meals during the day. Given the abundance of food in our times we can ward against the late night snack and binge ritual even with this biological clock foundation, simply by fueling ourselves adequately throughout the day.
Nutritional imbalances: These imbalances could be a physiological root cause for late night snacking. A medical doctor, naturopath or nutritionist can help you understand vitamin deficiencies, blood sugar imbalances, food allergies, adrenal fatigue, hydration and biological properties of food cravings. A variety of nutritious, whole unprocessed foods throughout the day help prevent nutritional imbalances as well.
Behaviors and habits: Indulging at night require your attention to change your habit. If you find that you are eating enough and a variety of foods, we have to look at how we are meeting our emotional needs. Feelings of sadness, grief, loneliness, or boredom can easily drive us to the pantry for self soothing. Being used to being busy can lead to a food binge during down time simply to reoccupy time-what you are used to doing.
A habit is a pattern we are used to doing that requires little effort. Once you pick a different habit instead of eating, it will become just as easy and rewarding as the late night snack. For instance, our self talk sounds like, “I had a long day at work today. I deserve this treat.” Tired from a long day? A “treat” may be relaxing, but try something else relaxing instead - like a bath. Being used to being busy can lead to a food binge during downtime simply to reoccupy time - what you are accustomed to doing.
The reasons behind late night snacking are varied and complex. Once you find out what your snacking profile feels like (and yes, of course, tastes like), you can alter this pattern very quickly. Think of your new ritual as feeding a different hunger. Feed your sense of awe and wonder (museums and architecture). Feed your creativity (draw / play an instrument / dance). Feed your connectedness (help another / give back to a cause you care about / call a friend). Fuel your worthiness (education or something else)…your opportunities are infinite!