We are all guilty of that late-night trip to the fridge where we plan on eating just a couple of berries, and soon realize the entire container is gone (plus a bag of chips)—and somehow you still feel hungry. Key word being feel. Turns out, late night snacking may be all in your head (literally) according to new research out of at Brigham Young University.
For the study, published in the academic journal Brain Imaging and Behavior, scientists used an MRI to measure neural response to high and low calorie food throughout the day. The results: the brain's response to food is lower in the evening. In other words, your brain doesn’t find food as rewarding at night which often leads to binging.
"You might over-consume at night because food is not as rewarding, at least visually at that time of day," lead author Travis Masterson said in a release. "It may not be as satisfying to eat at night so you eat more to try to get satisfied.”
Researchers say more research is needed to determine the extent of these neural responses to food, and to figure out how they may effect weight gain and weight management.
But this study does provide some pretty valulable insight. Next time you hear the siren call of that leftover lasagna or that bag of cookies, remind yourself it could be your brain, rather than your stomach, talking. If you just can shake that hunger, try one of these healthy snack alternatives for every type of craving.