3 am Ice Cream Cravings: Grab a Spoon?

3 am Ice Cream Cravings: Grab a Spoon?

Did you know I write a monthly column for the online site: MyBariatricLife.org?

It occurred to me that it might be helpful to share some of these Q and A’s with you too.

Here’s a link to an earlier post:  http://www.mybariatriclife.org/weight-control-successful-losers/

It’s super fun to answer readers’ questions. Let me know if you’re craving to ask a question and I’ll be happy to help!


Dear Elizabeth,

I am concerned about cravings. Mainly, what to do when these cravings strike. I know all the standard answers, but many of these are not practical when I wake up at 3 am and want ice cream. Sometimes I can convince myself that I need it. —Peggy


Dear Peggy,

This may seem like a straightforward question but it brings up several more for me.

First, are they  cravings or are you truly hungry?

Review your meal schedule and daily protein intake. Are you eating 3 bariatric ‘meals’ per day? Are you consuming at least 60 grams of protein daily? Are you eating at least every 5 hours?

If it’s not stomach hunger, which doesn’t usually occur in the first year after weight loss surgery, is it ‘head’ hunger? Meaning, does the idea of a certain food sound fantastic?

If you’re like, ‘yeah, this might be head hunger.’ You have a few choices.

  1. Have two bites. That satisfies the true lust for taste and likely won’t cause dumping.


  1. Ask yourself, what are you really ‘hungry’ for?

When I was first grappling with my eating disorder, I found author and God’s gift to women, Geneen Roth.

Geneen has recovered from compulsive overeating and helped thousands recover themselves through her seminars and books.

You can find more about her work here:   http://www.geneenroth.com

I also highly recommend working with a trusted therapist to uncover what your true cravings are and help you discover healthy ways to satisfy them.

Now back to my big list of questions.

What’s up with your sleep?

Is it common for you to wake up wide-eyed at 3 am?

Are you using a CPAP machine for sleep apnea? Does the mask still fit well after weight loss? It might be time to get an evaluation at the sleep lab. Find out more about sleep apnea at: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/sleep-apnea


Third, I’m curious when you say, “Sometimes I can convince myself I need it,” (the ice cream.)

I’ve heard this before from clients who have a strong mental connection between eating, food, energy levels, well-being and health.

Oftentimes, they were taught from an early age that if they didn’t eat certain foods or enough of those foods, they might get sick, get a headache or feel unwell.

This belief can cause internal conflict after weight loss surgery.

For example, “I’ll be unhealthy if I don’t eat a hearty portion of meat and potatoes every day but I’ll throw up now if I do?”

I don’t mean to be a broken record but this is yet another area where a skillful therapist is worth their weight in gold.

I wish it were easier. I wish I could easily answer your question.

The good news is that by taking a more global look at the issue, we’re more likely to uncover the true issue and solve it.

Peggy, I recommend the following:

  1. check in with a good bariatric dietitian to review your diet.
  2. check in with your health care provider about any sleep issues.
  3. if head hunger sounds like your challenge, a therapist is your best next step. (Here are some tips for finding a great therapist: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freudian-sip/201102/how-find-the-best-therapist-you

Eating, food and weight loss surgery are a complex combination and deserve thorough and individual consideration.

You deserve a plan specific to your unique needs.

Until next time, take good care of YOU!



Want more? Let’s get social on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/crackerjacknutrition or watch some of my crazy videos on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOSwaP9_B9SGYpoe1TduGcQ

Want to meet in person? I’m scheduling super luxurious 1:1 weekend retreats in Boston and Martha’s Vineyard for the spring and summer. Email me for the deets!  eliz@crackerjacknutrition.com

About the Author:

Elizabeth began her career in… broadcast journalism as a reporter, producer and anchor in her native state of Maine. She decided to get a Master’s Degree in Nutrition after realizing health science was more her style than covering crime stories, snowstorms and (snooze-fest) board meetings. Elizabeth has been a registered and licensed dietitian for 15 years and loves every energizing minute. Her passion for weight management and bariatrics was born out of her own struggle with food, weight and that inner critic. Elizabeth strives to listen deeply, without judgment and help each person set free the glorious being held hostage by weight wars. Elizabeth's philosophy takes the best from evidence-based science and mixes it with love to make the world taste good!

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