Junk Food, Sleepless Nights and How to Block Sugar Cravings

sugar cravings, sugar cravings at night

Photo: Uwe Hermann Flickr

You swat at the alarm clock as it BLEETS at you. Groggily, you trek to the kitchen and wonder how long the coffee will take to kick in. Quick ... would you rather have some perfectly cooked eggs or a donut? If you're sleep deprived, chances are you want the donut. Which leaves us pondering: how do we block sugar cravings? A new study looks at the correlation between junk food and sleepless nights and, yep, they're totally connected. And I don't know about you, but the earlier I give into temptation, the more I seem to want the rest of the day. That first dose of sugar doesn't sate me ... it makes me crave MORE. Here's a great quote from one of the researchers ...
"What we have discovered is that high-level brain regions required for complex judgments and decisions become blunted by a lack of sleep, while more primal brain structures that control motivation and desire are amplified," said Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience and senior author of the study published August 6 in the journal Nature Communications.
To make this a bit Freudian, we're down to our child-like, demanding id, and we want sugar now, dammit! So are we doomed to eat the donut? And then the cookies and ice cream and candy after that? No, there are ways to curb our sugar and junk food demons.

Block Sugar Cravings

Here are some ideas to curb your cravings when you are waking up from a sleepless night.
  1. Drink water.  Often a little hydration will put some perspective on our cravings and keep the munchies at bay.
  2. Eat combined foods.  Mix together protein, carbs, and fat. Think about those tasty eggs with a touch of olive oil, some sauteed onions, and a slice of whole grain toast. It will keep you full for hours.
  3. Eat three meals and two snacks.  Don't give yourself a chance to get hungry and reach for the sugar. Have three meals and two snacks planned out for the day so you'll know what to eat and you won't have the chance to get hungry.
  4. Eat fruit.  Fruit has naturally occurring sugar, but it also has fiber, so you'll get a bit of sweet and a bit of satiety, and that could be enough to satisfy you.
  5. Don't use fake sugar.  Artificial sweetners will trigger your sugar cravings even more!  Avoid them at all costs. But you should anyway ... just eat real food.
I hope this gives you some ideas for when junk food and sleepless nights come together and temptation must be fought off. One other suggestion: turn off electronic screens at least an hour before bed, which will definitely help you sleep better. What do you do to fight sugar cravings? Cheers, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.


4 Responses to Junk Food, Sleepless Nights and How to Block Sugar Cravings

  1. Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength August 19, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    Great tips!! Water water water and trying to avoid the hunger beast (by eating before you’re starving) are the best tips I have. :-)

  2. Lisa Johnson August 19, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    and those are great tips Amanda … thanks :)

  3. Mohale August 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    This has been super informative, I always drink water as soon as I wake and try to mix up my breakfast with a bit of everything so my body gets all the vitamins it needs for the day, I’ve found that eating less for dinner can make falling asleep and waking up alot easier.

  4. Lisa Johnson September 8, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    Mohale, that sounds like a great strategy … I think we all have to find the unique combination that works for us. Congrats on finding yours. :)

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