Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue
Health & Wellness

Overcome Late Night Cravings

It’s the third call after midnight and the ice cream is calling you from the freezer. If late night cravings are your thing, you are not alone! Yearning for salty, sugary starchy foods is hard-wired into our circadian rhythms. Unfortunately for first responders, shift work can cause circadian rhythms to go haywire. Eating after midnight because you are actually hungry is normal and can help fuel the final leg of your shift. Eating out of boredom, however, can derail fat loss efforts quickly. With a few quick tweaks, you can make better decisions at midnight in a snap!

1) Hunger vs. Emotions

First determine if the rumbling in your stomach is real, or if it’s just an underlying emotion. If you’ve eaten a full meal in the past 2-3 hours, chances are it might be emotions. Take a moment to tune into how you feel (I know, not a first responder’s favorite thing, but try it). Are you cranky, sad, upset, or just tired? If you are tired, head to the bunkroom! Otherwise, find an activity you can do to distract yourself. Browse social media, read an article, or watch a movie. Think of something that will engage your mind when sleep is not an option. 

2) Make a better “bad” decision

  • Not hungry, but need a snack to take the edge off?  Have a low calorie snack that lasts awhile.
    • 100 calorie pack popcorn
    • Lay’s poppables
    • Fruit popsicle
    • Yasso yogurt bar
    • Light cool whip and fruit
    • Sugar-free jello or pudding
  • Hungry? If you truly feel hungry and are having trouble sleeping, have a snack that is high in protein and fiber. Be sure to measure out the portion instead of eyeballing. Try to keep this snack between 100-300 calories. You can go higher if you know the community tends to run you multiple times at night.
    • Apple slices and yogurt
    • Baked apple (one apple, halved, sprinkled with 1 tsp brown sugar and cinnamon, and baked at until tender)
    • Whole grain crackers and cheese
    • Quaker “High Protein and Fiber” flavored oatmeal
    • Whole grain cereal and milk (ex. Mini wheats, Cheerios, Raisin Bran)
    • Light cool whip and fruit
    • Protein shake or bar (one that you actually like, try Quest or Aloha)

3) Plan for a late night snack

If you can’t kick a craving that happens almost every night, plan for it! Save one of your snacks for the evening. Be sure to hit your protein and fiber goals if the midnight snack will be a treat. This means loading up on vegetables, fruit, and lean proteins earlier in the day. 

If your midnight snack goes left, it’s okay! Try to make better decisions 80% of the time. You can always make healthier decisions the next day.


Megan Lautz, MS, RD, CSCS, TSAC-F 

Megan is a Registered Dietitian and coach who specializes in firefighter nutrition. Megan’s mission is to help firefighters perform better, recover faster, and enjoy long healthy retirements. Megan is the owner of RescueRD LLC, which provides nutrition seminars and coaching for tactical athletes across the country. Check out @Rescue.RD on Facebook and Instagram.

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