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How Midnight Snacks affect your hormones

By The Lucy Rose Clinic

June 17, 2020

Poor sleep habits and regular waking through the night often ends up in stare-at-the-open-fridge syndrome. Which leads to eating whatever you can get your hands on, often mindlessly.

Don’t worry – we’ve all been there!

But if this is a regular habit, what exactly, are you training your brain?

Lets find out…

Train your Brain to lose weight

Our habits and patterns can either support our health goals, or unravel them. Part of long term weight management inevitably comes down to changing any self sabotaging patterns, and replacing them with health affirming ones!

What are yours?

What have you found helpful to replace poor habits with healthy habits?

Here’s some of my favourite tips to share

  • Try to eat a family meal every day at the kitchen or dining table. Ensure the meal has protein, vegetables and fats. Eat no sooner than 3 hours before bed.
  • Drink water if you wake in the night.
  • If you keep these in your house, put chips and snacks in your lowest cabinets or way up high, or in your garage – make them hard to access.
  • Make the most nutritious foods front and centre in your fridge.

Adrenal Disruption

Alteration or disruption in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis occurs when we eat food when we are meant to be asleep. It is possible that night eating syndrome may be a form of “self-medication”, since a large proportion of snacking late at night generally involves carbohydrate-rich or “comfort” type foods. This can be caused by bottling up stress through the day, or it can become a learnt pattern of behaviour.

A study on mice demonstrated that mice who were given an electric shock (poor mice!) after eating when they were meant to be asleep actually didn’t seem to learn the way they normally would when given negative reinforcement. Their brain wasn’t registering and remembering the experience, and they would repeat the feeding routine the next day. The mice in the control group who were given negative reinforcement in the day time clearly reacted to the situation and avoided it the next day.

That really gives credibility to the saying “mindless eating”.

This demonstrates why we need to assess and manage our adrenal health, as this feedback loop between the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands is a delicate cycle that responds favourably to regular diurnal and nocturnal patterns.

Sometimes will-power is enough to break the cycle, but if the adrenal function is too far out of balance, then more specific help is required.

First step is testing the adrenal hormones with a 3-point salivary cortisol test, including DHEA and melatonin. This test can show us the functionality of your diurnal and nocturnal patterns, the level of imbalance, and how to best address it.

Have you been treating your adrenals for a while now? Then do a retest to see how well you have responded.

How to trick your body with macros

We have actually evolved to crave sweet, starchy and salty foods in the evenings. In times long before supermarkets and drive through takeaways, this benefited us, as it drove us to fuel up our bodies with high calorie food to store energy to survive longer in times of food scarcity.

Now this just leads to weight gain!

Getting your meals balanced correctly right from breakfast is the best way to break this cycle and take the will power out of the equation.

Most Aussies start their day with a refined cereal, or toast. Starting the day with a protein rich meal will actually set you up for better blood sugar balance, and less cravings later in the day.

Sluggish Thyroid?

If you have suboptimal thyroid function, expect not to get away with snacking through the night. Hypothyroid people can expect to put on the maximum calories from any extra snacking thanks to a slower metabolism and lower thermogenesis.

Balance your Blood Sugar

People with out of balance blood sugars are more susceptible to cravings at night time, so managing this with correct diet and herbal medicine can take care of the snacks that are putting on the kilos.

If you are stuck with your weight and energy and suddenly nothing seems to work anymore to set you back on track, we can help.

We take all the guess work out, get you answers, and give you the right natural therapies, diet and support to help get you back to your best self.

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