Daylight Savings Time, which starts at 2 a.m. Sunday, brings with it an unwelcome gift: Don’t be surprised if you feel extra hungry or find it harder to stick to a healthy eating plan for a few days.
The “springing forward” means our bodies get less morning light and more evening light. That disrupts the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, and sleep deprivation is common, researchers say. Among the effects: a disruption in the hormones that control feelings of hunger (ghrelin) and feelings of being full (leptin.).
So, it’s not your imagination if high carb snacks suddenly become irresistible, or that planned serving of two small cookies expands to, well, a lot more than two😳.
After a few (unpleasant, fatiguing) days, we will adjust to the time change. Here’s a few tips from experts on how to make the transition easier.
Time Change Tips
1. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night; the night before the time changes, try to go to bed an hour earlier than normal.
2. For one or two days before the switch, try to get more natural morning light – the more, the better.
3. Try even harder to drink more water. It’s (very) easy to forget to drink enough water and to become slightly dehydrated. Sometimes, what feels like hunger is actually thirst, so drink up before you eat something. Another reason to push the water: Dehydration can cause more cortisol (a stress hormone) to be released. More stress will make it even more difficult to make healthy choices.
4. Anticipate feeling more hungry, and plan accordingly. Plan to have some favorite lower carb foods handy, and make them especially appealing. Crave something sweet? Pairing carbs with protein and fat will prevent blood sugar spikes that lead to crashes and hunger.
Snack ideas include: half a turkey breast sandwich or raw veggies and hummus. Smaller amounts of a main dish can also make a good snack, such as a taco made with lean ground turkey and fresh veggies.
To satisfy a sweet tooth, try spreading a tablespoon of natural peanut butter on a graham cracker, then top with thinly sliced banana or a teaspoon of mini chocolate chips.
Remember, as the days go by, your body clock will slowly readjust. At least until we “fall forward” in November.
Sources: AARP; Johns Hopkins/WW partnership