★How many times have you heard you shouldn’t eat after 8 o’clock at night when trying to lose weight? But what if you’re hungry? ★
★Not eating when you’re hungry ►leads to bingeing. ★
If you don’t eat when you’re hungry, you’ll get hit with physical food cravings.
A physical food craving is a craving for food the body sends you when you aren’t getting enough food.
I was on the phone once with a potential new client, Dave, who said, “When I get home from work at 11:30 at night, I’m hungry. But I know I’m not supposed to eat and I try not to. But then I end up eating a big bag of something, like puffed cheesy snacks.”
This is a simplified version of what drives Dave to binge on puffed cheesy snacks and what might drive you to binge on potato chips, chocolate or __________ (fill in the blank). And it has nothing to do with lack of willpower.
Dave works the evening shift. He eats a couple of sandwiches during his break at 5 p.m. As the food breaks down, it pumps glucose (sugar) into the blood stream. The blood sugar provides him with energy for the next few hours. The fuel—sugar—is burned up as he uses up the energy the food provides.
Just like a car burns fuel—gas—as it motors along, it uses up the energy the gas provides.
As the evening continues, the sugar in Dave’s blood drops lower as it’s used up. Just like the gas in a car drops lower in the tank as it’s used up.
The fuel gauge in a car provides a visual clue the gas is dropping lower in the tank. We can read a fuel gauge and see how much gas the tank has left.
In Dave’s body—the tank that contains his organs—the fuel gauge does not provide a visual clue. It provides a physical clue—a sensation. The physical sensation we call hunger. At first, it’s a mild sensation.
Dave gets a mild sensation of hunger 2-3 hours after he’s eaten. He doesn’t eat.
Dave finishes work at 11 p.m. and by then the sugar in his blood has dropped even lower. Just like the gas in a car drops lower as it travels along without a fill-up. Dave gets twinges of hunger. He ignores them because he’s determined not to eat at night because he’s heard it puts on weight, and he’s trying to lose a few pounds.
(Sensations and twinges of hunger are easy to ignore. We ignore them when we’re busy, too caught up in our heads. We ignore them in between meals when we’re on a diet. We ignore them at night when we think we’re not supposed to eat.)
Dave finishes work and goes home. Even though it’s late, he’s not ready to go to bed and he watches television. His blood sugar drops lower. His internal fuel gauge now sends him a strong message—don’t ignore me, I’m hungry!
Dave ignores it. Yikes! His body starts to panic. Oh no, Dave’s not eating. The body knows it needs food. What to do? It needs a way to get Dave to eat sooner rather than later.
Dave’s blood sugar is plummeting into the danger zone. Time to send Dave more than just a sensation, more than just a twinge, more than just a strong message. The body knows it needs to raise the level of the blood sugar, and fast. Because without sugar in the blood, there’s nothing to feed the brain and other internal organs and it means a lot of extra work for the body.
If the body sends a message to eat food dense with calories, it may not have to work too hard. But how to get Dave to eat a food loaded with calories, and fast? Hmmm. How about sending him a strong craving for a food he loves?
BOOM! The body sends a strong powerful craving to Dave for puffed cheesy snacks.
Fortunately, Dave can’t resist. Because his blood sugar has dropped far too low, it’s dropped into what the body thinks is the danger zone.
Just like the fuel gauge in a car. There is a visible—usually depicted in the color red—danger zone. The danger zone shows the car is almost out of gas.
You do your best to make sure your car has fuel. Isn’t it time to make sure your body does too?
Dave gains weight because he binges on junk food at night and it reinforces his belief he shouldn’t eat at night. The reality is he’s hungry and needs to eat. If he eats something when he gets the hunger twinges, he’s less likely to binge. The longer he waits, the lower his blood sugar drops, and the more likely he’ll binge. And by binge, I mean he overeats.
I suggested to Dave, when he gets home instead of ignoring his hunger, he should eat a sandwich and because he loves puffed cheese snacks, a small bowl of puffed cheese snacks. Because eliminating the foods you love causes another type of craving–but that is a topic for another day.
(If you’d like to learn more now about how depriving yourself of the foods you love causes another type of craving, I invite you to buy my book Clear Your Cravings: 3 Secrets To Diet-Free Weight Loss (It’s Not What You Think). You can find the links on my home page at ClearYourCravings.com)
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Yeah, but “they” say going to bed with a full stomach, means I’ll gain weight.”
Stay tuned for what “they” either don’t know, or “they” aren’t telling you in my next post:
Binge Trap #1 The Low-Calorie Belief Trap
Here’s to eating anytime we’re hungry, even at night!
Posted on November 19, 2017