We all know that late-night-craving feeling. You’re sitting on the couch, dinner has come and past and now you’re thinking you need a little something. You’re not sure what exactly but you wander over to the refrigerator, open it up, and satiate the late night craving with anything you can find.

What you may not realize is that the food you’re snacking on late at night may be negatively impacting you into the next day. When we eat past 8 P.M., our bodies are not digesting properly.

This means a couple of things: when we eat late at night, our insulin spikes. This can disrupt the repair process of sleep, mainly because Growth Hormone won’t be released if insulin is present. This means that we wake feeling unrested and sluggish.

The other piece is that we may experience digestive upset the following day considering there has been food sitting in our digestive tract throughout the night without being broken down properly. This can cause gas, bloating and pain in the digestive tract.

There are several reasons why we eat late at night and figuring out the reason behind it is key to crushing those cravings. Take the following points into account to assess what you can do to break the habit of heading to the refrigerator after dinner.

  • Your late night craving may simply be force of habit

Your body may not even be calling for a late night indulgence, but as a creature of habit, your mind may be telling you that it’s time to open the refrigerator. Become aware of this habit and ask yourself if your body is actually asking you for some form of sustenance. Becoming aware of the habit is the first step to changing it. Try brushing your teeth after dinner to signal to your body that the time for eating has ended.

  • Craving food even after a satiating dinner may be a thirst signal

It can be extremely difficult to distinguish your body’s thirst signal from it’s hungry signal. If you are all of a sudden feeling hungry an hour after dinner, pour yourself a glass of water. Often times, as soon as you start to drink the water you realize that it was hydration that your body was calling for all along

  • Late night cravings could be a sign that your nutrition throughout the day is lacking

When we’re eating things throughout the day that are energizing, nourishing and

protective to the body, we feel satiated. If you aren’t providing your body with adequate

nourishment during the day, it may be communicating this to you by sending you late night cravings.

  • As an emotional being, you may be turning to late night snacks to avoid some discomfort

Most often, late night eating involves something sugary or salty and does not provide much nourishment. This is because when it’s past dinner time and we’re quiet with ourselves, there can be some uncomfortable moments where your brain is running wild with worries from the day, and stresses about tomorrow. The best way to get your brain to shut up is to grab something crunchy, salty, sweet, creamy, or just delicious to push down the discomfort of our brain running in circles. Journaling can be extremely effective when these uncomfortable feelings pop up.

The best way to tackle any of these reasons for late night eating is this: Awareness. Becoming aware of the reason behind your craving is absolutely essential to creating a change around the habit. Whether it is brushing your teeth, having a glass of water, journaling, or trying to nourish yourself better throughout the day, you must become aware of the nature of your cravings before you can crush them.

So what’s behind your late night cravings and how will you take control to tackle them?