Ep #18: How to Manage Nighttime Food Cravings

A listener asked for me to address the challenge of nighttime cravings. I dealt with this for decades, growing up with regular late night desserts. It has taken a lot of work to fix my eating schedule and learn to de-stress in healthy ways.

These long-practiced habits are difficult to break and require a significant degree of introspection and reflection. When you recognize the source of your bad habits, you can work towards fixing them and eating cleaner.

This realization will help you eat differently and give you more, sustained energy throughout the day. Our insulin responses to food are greater in the evening than during the day, so night binges are particularly damaging. Identify the problem and start living a more healthy lifestyle.

Listen To The Episode Here:

In Today’s Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • How your brain gets trained to expect food.
  • Healthy alternatives to staying up late and eating.
  • Insulin responses to food at different times of day.
  • My own story of overcoming night binges.
  • Why simple fixes don’t always work.
  • How to de-stress without overeating.

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Showing 10 comments
  • Anne

    This was a great topic-and the fact that it took you 5 months to change your habits is encouraging. I like TV- but only in the evening-but I know it leads to another glass of wine or chips/popcorn or both. How do you go about “doing the work” to find out why?- thought downloads and putting in a model? Some additional specifics would be helpful.

    • Katrina

      Hi Anne! Great question. For sure thought downloads and models. There’s a reason your brain is offering you to get another glass of wine and/or chips/popcorn. Before you pour a glass or grab the bag, do the thought download and models. How is more wine or a snack going to make your current experience better? Do you like your reason? Will eating/drinking that create the results that you want? Keep up the great work!

  • Stephanie

    Great topic! Nighttime eating was so hard for me to conquer and took almost a year to be successful with. After dinner I click on “start fasting” on the Zero app to make that commitment to fast for 16 hours. Then I have a cup of mint tea and avoid the kitchen. I’m working on teaching my kids that dinner should be satisfying and there is no need to eat after dinner on most night.

    • Katrina

      Love this Stephanie!

      • Diane

        I’m still working on the night time eating and 16:8. Dating has helped me as well!

        Just for clarification, are insulin spikes smaller in the morning due to circadian rythyms and sleep hormones or mobring as in first meal. If it makes that big of a difference health wise I would be willing to try a breakfast and lunch IF protocol over my current lunch and dinner.

        Thanks for answering all these comments! The supplemental information has been nothing but helpful, and seeing other people post questions I have is great!

      • Katrina

        In the studies I’ve seen, I don’t think they’ve determined why the spikes are smaller earlier in the day. There’s not overwhelming evidence of this but there is enough that it convinced me to stop snacking at night! Some people love not eating dinner so give it a try and see how it works for you!

  • Rachael

    I am doing well with an insulin fasting morning, only cream and tea or coffee. During the week I am on plan with my lunch, weekends are still a struggle. I’ve been able to avoid all the snacks and food offerings at work, which is new thanks to the work I’ve done from listening to your podcast. THANK YOU! Dinner though, I’m either not hunger earlier or I’m running from work to activity, to the store, etc. so I end up eating late at night. Is eating dinner at 9pm an issue or is ok since I’m eating purposefully and not snacking? Do you have any tips for what I should eat if I’m eating that late?

    • Katrina

      Hi Rachael! Great job with the insulin fasting! I don’t love that you’re eating so late – that makes your “eating window” pretty big. Try to eat all your food for the day (2 or 3 meals) over no more than 8 hours. Six hours would be even more ideal. So that may mean that you have to eat when you aren’t hungry sometimes. Once you are fat adapted, your hunger goes way down which is good! Your body realizes that it has plenty of energy on board and doesn’t need so much food. If you are definitely not hungry and it’s really late, you can sometimes skip dinner as well, have your coffee and cream the next morning, and break your fast with lunch. You will be eating…you’ll be eating your fat! 😀 But only do that on occasion. As for the weekends, my bet is that you don’t have a plan ahead of time like you do for the week. Plan out everything you’ll eat at least 24 hours in advance. Then weekends will be so easy because you’ll just follow your plan!

  • Alyssa L Stitt

    Hi Katrina! I am late to the party:) But I just found you started listening a couple of weeks ago and am obsessed:). I had already begun a slow journey trying to put intuitive eating into practice, but it was cumbersome and I wasn’t committed and being able to quickly catch a podcast between here and there is amazing for continued reinforcement! I am family practice and have developed the norm of doing so many callbacks, verifying the days labs and getting back to people, catchup on notes etc. after the patients are gone (often not until 5:30) that my standard is getting home at 7. So we are often eating between 7 and 8. I too, feel I can do great during the day but nighttime is such a challenge. If I’m trying to shorten my window (ignoring the obvious get home earlier idea which I promise I’m slowly working on) but don’t get supper until 7 or 8, is skipping breakfast (please tell me my coffee with cream is non-negotiable) reasonable, or delaying it until a mid morning eat at the drop down in the hallway between patients acceptable? I also tend to put my kids to bed around 8:30 or 9, snuggle in and read our chapter book series of the hour and then crash for 30-60 minutes and absorb them by osmosis only to wake and tell myself “now I have my second wind” to stay up until midnight for my downtime, netflix, more work tasks, time with hubby, etc. I walk STRAIGHT to the pantry from their bedrooms. So thank you for making me question that behavior, it is actually helping! Finally, is binge listening to a self help podcast just an extension of all of the problems that got me here in the first place;). Thanks for all you are doing for us! (incidentally I found you around midnight when I had fallen deep down the wormhole of PMG on a thread that had nothing to do with me well past midnight, so I guess there are redeeming thoughts about that:)!

  • Adam Thomas

    Hi Katrina, this is one of your non-Dr. Non-female listeners. Loving the info btw. Very blessed to have had my Dr. recommend it to me. My question is on sparkling water like flavored LaCroix or the Costco Klarbrunn stuff. Does those release insulin? I find those enjoyable at different times through the day including at night.

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