By: Dana Schulz, ’16, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator
You wake up in a panic- realizing your alarm never went off, throw on the first pair of clean clothes in sight, and sprint out the door to make your first class. Five hours go by, and all you’ve eaten is a bag of chips- that is, if you were lucky enough to have stopped by the convenience shop in the 10 minutes between English and Math class.
It’s no wonder that when you get back to your room, you keep eating until the second you fall asleep.
We’ve all been there, the dreaded nighttime eating frenzy, all too easy to fall into with our busy college lifestyles. What’s worse is that we beat ourselves up about it, cursing our weak willpower and vowing not to open up our fridge after 10 PM.
However, it’s not about willpower at all, our body is doing what it is supposed to do. After being deprived of fuel all day, we crave sugar and fat because they are the fastest and most efficient form of energy. This is why the foods we gravitate to after a long day of “starving” include cookies, ice cream, and deep-fried-anything instead of salads.
But don’t fret! Here are 4 tips to work with your body instead of against it:
- Timing is Key! Expecting ourselves to be able to properly control portions and make healthy food choices when we are in a starved state is near impossible. In order to set ourselves up for success, we must eat regularly throughout the day.
- Tip: Try to think of your day in terms of 3 meals and 1-3 snacks. This will keep hunger managed, boost your energy, and reduce the sugar/fat trigger starvation can cause.
- Plan, Plan, Plan! Most of us plan every other aspect of our lives, so why not plan when and what we are going to eat?
- Monitor Your Eating Environment. After a long day of class, it can be tempting to sit in front of the T.V and watch that new episode of your favorite show with a bag of chips. The distraction of the television makes it near impossible to practice mindful eating.
- Tip: Surround yourself with a peaceful environment when eating to ensure you can pay attention to each handful or bite. You might find you feel satisfied with less than you think!
- Listen to Your Hunger/Full Signals. Each of us is born with an internal regulator that tells us when to start and stop eating, our hunger/full signals. However, as we grow up, our body begins to listen to external signals, such as the time of day.
- Tip: Before and after each meal, rate your hunger and fullness on a scale of 1 to 10 to get back in touch with your signals.
To learn more about conquering the nighttime eating frenzy, reserve your session with a Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664.