Why can’t I stop myself from eating at night?   I used to love having ice cream for an after-dinner treat, but lately it’s been making me crave even more desserts.  So I get stuck grazing for hours, plus I feel hungry late into the night.  Why does dessert make me overeat like this?

Your nighttime cravings may be linked to your body’s circadian rhythm.  Normally this internal timekeeper synchronizes appetite signals with sleep-wake patterns—it’s why people tend to experience hunger during the day, not while asleep.  But scientists recently found that consuming fatty snacks at night can interfere with appetite signals to “set back” the body’s clock, triggering P.M. cravings.  Eat a cookie and the body clock “rewinds” even more, leading to longer-lasting cravings the next night.  To help reset your body clock, enjoy desserts containing tryptophan.  The body converts this amino acid into melatonin and serotonin, neurotransmitters that help regulate circadian rhythm.  Low-fat frozen yogurt is a tryptophan-rich treat.  Or try one of my favorites: apple-oatmeal crisp.  (To make: Mix sliced apples with a bit of ground flaxseed and top with rolled oats; drizzle with honey, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees F until the crust is golden.)

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