19 Aug 2019
Fatigue and Overeating
19 Aug 2019
It’s Monday morning, you slept horribly last night and now you’re running on empty. What happens next? You find yourself eating and eating and eating…..all day long. And eating what? Everything in sight…..especially sugary, salty and deep fried foods.
The truth is, the poor night’s sleep and the insatiable hunger are very much related, on a physiological scale. It’s not your fault! There is science to tell you that this isn’t just a random day of cravings.
Leptin- “the satiety hormone”. Leptin is a hormone made by adipose cells (fat tissue) and cells of the small intestine. Leptin’s job is to tell your brain, specifically your hypothalamus, that you don’t need to eat. When we are tired, leptin levels DECREASE. This means that your brain isn’t getting the message that you don’t need to eat.
Grehlin- “the hunger hormone”. Grehlin is produced in the stomach and released by the stomach, small intestine, pancreas and brain. Grehlin is responsible for appetite stimulation and promotes fat storage. During times of sleep, levels of ghrelin DECREASE because the body is resting and not requiring much energy. However, if you’re not getting enough quality rest, grehlin release goes into overdrive and you end up CONSTANTLY feeling hungry.
When we haven’t slept long enough or well enough, our bodies go searching for a quick, easy source of energy. And there’s nothing easier or more accessible than carbohydrates. AND as a ‘double whammy’, carbs and fatty foods encourage the secretion of serotonin, our ‘happy hormone,’ so you find yourself feeling happier the more junk food that you eat…..until later that day, when hormone levels all come crashing down.
Cortisol- When you’re tired and still have to go about your busy day, more cortisol is released, to help keep you going. However, if cortisol is chronically elevated other problems arise – such as weight gain, chronic cravings and overeating, obesity, high blood pressure, low blood pressure (in cases of adrenal ‘burnout’), poor blood sugar regulation (elevated blood sugar levels, insulin resistance) and diabetes.
How to prevent the fatigue and overeating:
1. Establish a healthy bedtime routine and wind down time –
Think of babies and toddlers. These little ones require a nice long hour of quiet time, reading, a nice warm bath, rocking and singing. Then what happens? They sleep a blissful 10-12 hours! Every parent knows that this routine cannot be compromised. Now, because we are adults, we don’t require 10-12 hours of sleep, but the wind down time is just as important now as it was when we were babies.
Work on including the following sleep hygiene practices into your days and nights:
- Turn off ALL electronics AT LEAST one hour before bed.
- Remove all electronics from the bedroom. Yep, it’s time to buy an old school alarm clock!
- Fast for 12 hours, through the night. So, if you get up at 6am, your last bite of food should be at 6pm the night before.*
- Take an evening walk outside, if weather permits. This doesn’t have to be a long walk; just 10-15 minutes.
- Don’t exercise within three hours of going to bed. Again, you can and should take an evening stroll, but try to avoid going to that 8pm spin class.
- Don’t drink coffee after 3pm.
- Reduce alcohol consumption and don’t drink alcohol after dinner time.
- If you can’t get your brain to turn off at night, try keeping a journal on your nightstand. Write everything down that is on your mind, close the journal and fall asleep, finding comfort in knowing that you can let go of those worries and that ‘to do’ list for the night; it will be there waiting for another day, in your journal.
Adopt healthier eating habits –
Now, you’re already tired and overwhelmed so keep these changes very simple.
- Drink plenty of water; half your body weight in ounces every single day. Add some fresh lemon juice and a few drops of liquid stevia, if you absolutely don’t like drinking water. Adding these things will make it taste like lemonade!
- Eat a healthy protein and healthy fat with every meal and snack
- Some ideas:
- Banana with unsweetened peanut butter or almond butter for snack
- Salmon salad on bed of greens, with avocado, for lunch
- Smoothies – throw everything that you need in the blender and enjoy!
- Some ideas:
- Make half of your plate vegetables; don’t forget the greens!
- Eat a lighter dinner – soup and salad is a great place to start!
- Make healthy snacks to have on hand. Find one of my favourites HERE – Double the shredded carrot and add 1/2 cup of shredded zucchini to make them even better!
- Limit your coffee intake to two cups per day and work towards drinking it black- again, don’t drink coffee after 3pm, otherwise your sleep will be negatively impacted.
Having trouble figuring out where to start? Or maybe you’ve tried all of these things and you still can’t sleep or you still can’t stop the cravings? Book an appointment with one of our Naturopathic Doctors and get to the bottom of what’s holding you back.
*Please do not attempt to fast through the night if you suffer from serious blood sugar regulatory problems, such as Type I Diabetes.
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