The midnight snack: delightful and dreadful at the same time. Dinnertime has passed, you’re ready for bed (or perhaps even in bed already), and all of sudden you find yourself standing in the kitchen staring into the refrigerator light. It’s an inexplicable urge to eat—usually something high in sugar, fat, and calories. Why does this happen? That’s exactly what researchers Brigham Young University set out to discover with their new study.
The participants were shown hundreds of images of food—both healthy, low-calorie foods like fish and green vegetables, and unhealthy, high-calorie foods like ice cream and cake, once in the morning and once at night. Not surprisingly, MRIs of the participants’ brains showed activity spikes after viewing the unhealthy foods. However, at night, there was less brain activation. In fact, six areas of the brain (including the reward pathways) showed lower activation.
It seems the food reward response in our brains decreases in the evening. Eating food is less rewarding late at night, so as a result, we eat turn to high-calorie foods and eat more of them in order to reach the same level of satisfaction we get from eating meals during the day. Yes, you can now blame last night’s late-night binge on your brain.
So what’s the solution? Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about your brain, but knowledge is power. Understanding what’s going on in your braid when late-night cravings hit can help you overcome them. Also, try this trick, as well as occupying your mind with some other distraction. May we suggest Kylie Jenner’s App ($3 per month)?
What do you crave late at night?
Opening Photo: Mario Sierra for Vogue Paris