It’s 2am, you’ve got to be up in four and a half hours and you can’t sleep. You’ve been tossing and turning since midnight, running through conversation threads, future shopping expeditions and just how stupid the ending of Dexter was, trying to distract yourself from the pain in your stomach. It’s not working. And denying yourself is torture. You get up, put your slippers on in the dark, backwards (you don’t change them, why would you? It’s 2am, who cares? ) and go to the kitchen for your late night medication: lashings of cheese on buttered toast.
If you, like many people, suffer from the Late Night Carbohydrate Blues (the ‘official’ medical title) don’t worry, you are not alone. It is estimated that around 75 per cent of overweight people, and many perfectly slim looking folks, suffer from carbohydrate addiction (according to Drs Richard and Rachael Hellers, at least). Indeed, this has seen the development of scientifically proven carbohydrate blockers to help reduce the calories absorbed by carb and starch-rich foods like (deep breath): bread, bagels, buns, baked potatoes, pasta, pastries, pizza, pies, cake, cookies and chocolate.
Of course there are plenty of complex carbs that should be eaten as part of a balanced diet. Wholegrain foods, seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables are all great, but it’s rarely the desire to eat an apple that keeps you awake at 2am.
Here’s a stat about carb addiction that might send a shiver down your strung-out spine: according to a 2011 study, 94 per cent of rats who were allowed to choose mutually exclusively between sugar water and cocaine choose sugar.
So how do you knock carb addiction on the head forever? The simple answer is to just stop eating simple carbohydrates and, if your will power holds, you’ll be singing the blues no longer. Of course, having a slightly more detailed plan than that is probably advisable: the following steps could give you the tools you need to kick that carb addiction for good.
Eat the right breakfast
Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism in the morning and provides vital nutrients such as fibre, vitamins and iron. People who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight than those who skip breakfast. Avoid sugary cereals, white bread and sugary muffins that will cause a spike in your blood sugar levels. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates that release energy slowly such as porridge oats, low-sugar muesli and wholegrain or granary bread. Add mushrooms and tomatoes to granary toast for an even healthier start to the day!
Don’t forget about protein
Protein is pretty damn important. One of the biggest reasons people overeat is because of a lack of protein in their diet. Eating protein makes us feel full. So try and include, fresh fish, legumes, nuts, eggs or grains in some part of every meal. Your stomach (and hips) will thank you.
Eat the right foods often
Eat little and often. You’ve probably heard this quite a bit, but it’s the essence of a good diet. Three big meals a day is not the way to go. Aim to eat every 4 hours to keep your energy levels up and prevent snacking on unhelpful foods. Long gaps between meals can lead to you reaching for high-sugar and high-fat foods. Include plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates (as opposed to those pernicious simple ones) and you are on to a winner.
Make a plan
This one’s a little more open but it’s equally important. Don’t just jump headfirst into a new diet without having any kind of plan whatsoever. You’ll fail. Big time. Map out the foods you are going to eat beforehand and make sure they are available to you. The worst thing you can do is get hit by a food craving at 11.02am and the only sustenance available to you is the snack machine in the canteen. Buy your food in advance and make sure it’s good food. Do this and it will make it so much easier for to keep to your plan.
Post by Kevin Forde
About the author:
Kevin Forde writes about things, some of which are funny, some which are serious and some which are unintentionally neither.
This has led him to write about all sorts of things, from sports and fitness-related topics to music and film. He currently works as a Content Strategist for ZenithOptimedia.
17 responses to “Beat the Late-Night Carbohydrate Blues”
I do not get late night cravings, but I do get late day sweet tooth. A great way to curb this is a cup of sugar free hot cocoa. It fills you up well
You described me perfectly, a nocturnal carb addict! I need to eat little and often to keep the bread cravings away!
I am a real chocoholic.But I refuse to deny myself. I always eat something chocolatey before I go to bed. I believe that’s a real ‘no no’ but I see it as a treat. By that I mean I otherwise eat very healthily – lots of fruit, veg, low-fat diary etc – and I gym at least 3 times/week. I do feel sorry for people who have a seriously bad addiction and I totally agree that meal planning and eating small and often are a super ideas. If you stick to that then I see no harm in a small treat of something you really love squeezed in to your life plan too.
Thankfully, by 4am I’m usually well asleep, having been up til 2am feeding youngest. Also, being gluten free, and unwilling to eat second rate substitutes, my consumption of bread and cake products is lower than it might otherwise be. My consumption of chocolate on the other hand ….
I get so addicted to bread, so have switched to soya and linseed toast or granola for breakfast, which stops me.snacking on bread in the day. Luckily, up to now, I don’t get the late night cravings xx
don’t half wish i could give up bread oh i love carbs haha x
I cannot get up and eat at 2am.. i love bread thought..
An interesting read, I have up wheat for a fortnight and craved bread so much, even plastic mass produced sliced loaves!!
Thank you for this. I do have late evening snack urges… I do start the day well, may have to look how this can carry on to the evening meal.
I usually crave carbs as a snack at night…it have been my major problem in losing weight. Thanks for the tips!
Late night cravings are bad for me, they are there all day long :p
I had no idea there was an actual name for “carbohydrate blues”! I definitely need to work on eating a better breakfast and more protein. Thanks for the info!
I’ve never heard of this and I can say I’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night craving food, thankfully. I have only ever eaten wholemeal/ wholegrain carbs, I can’t see the appeal of white bread or pasta.
I definitely relate to carbohydrate addiction, although for me it seems to be more the sweetness of sugary foods.
This is very interesting, I have to admit I’ve never woken up in the middle of the night hungry, but when I’m tired during the day you will definitely see me reach for carbs!
Some really interesting facts here and good tips too.
I have a love hate relationship with carbs. I tend to stay away from them. When I do have some- it’s HEAVEN! Have you looked up the circadian rhythm of our glucose tolerance?