Well, the holidays are upon us again, and it is time for silent nights and visions of sugar plums and all that good stuff. Time for senses are assailed with images of Santa riding around on his sleigh coming to the houses of good children and rewarding them with treasure and eating their cookies. Surely, this couldn’t be too good. Firstly, he must be super stressed, and, secondly, those hours couldn’t possibly be healthy. No wonder he’s eating all those cookies. Do you catch yourself with the hand in the cookie jar late at night, even after a big meal? If you do you’re likely to gain weight and even develop health problems. If your find yourself a sleepless, stressed out, and overeating, it may be caused by a hormone imbalance.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, the underlying cause of night eating is biology. He believes it is caused by an imbalance in the hormones that regulate appetite and speculates that the key to ending your late night cravings lies within understanding how to balance them.
- Insulin: Insulin is produced to process sugar. If insulin spikes and then crashes after eating, it makes you hungry, even if your meal is relatively healthful.
- Leptin: Leptin is the hormone that sends a signal to your brain letting you know that you are full. If you eat a lot of sugar, flour, or processed food, your brain may become leptin resistant and not know when to put the brakes on your appetite.
- Ghrelin: This is the hunger hormone which tells your brain to eat.
- Peptide YY: This hormone is produced in your intestines and also sends signals to your brain when you’re full.
- Cortisol: Also known as the stress hormone, cortisol can cause your blood sugar and insulin to rise making you hungrier and setting the stage for insulin resistance or pre- diabetes.
What Can You Do?
If you’re binging at night, you probably won’t want to eat a good breakfast because you wake up full. If you’re are going to break the cycle, start the day with a high protein breakfast to keep your blood sugar even throughout the day.
Soothe the Stress
Stress causes overeating. Learn which methods of stress reduction work best for you. Deep breathing, exercise and yoga can all be effective relaxation techniques. They help to balance hormones, stop cravings, and maintain good sleeping habits.
Not sleeping drives up grehlin (the hunger hormone) and drives down PYY (the ‘I’m full’ hormone.) This means if you don’t sleep, you’ll be hungry, especially for sugar and carbs. Late night eating leads to bad food choices, so try to make sleep your number one late night activity.
Make sure to eat on a regular schedule, including three square meals. You can snack in between, but, remember, the body is a hormonal clock and needs a rhythm to keep it balanced.
We hope those visions of sugarplums aren’t keeping you up at night. Let us know your sleep and stress issues! We love to hear from you! Send comments and suggestions.