Laughter is great, and it can even help your diet

Laughter is the best medicine, especially where weight loss is concerned.

Laughter can provide relief from stress and help us to develop a positive attitude. It can provide a happy moment that distracts us from troubling thoughts and emotions.

Why would that be important? Emotional stress or a negative attitude can cause us to do destructive things to ourselves. We all deal with emotional stress in different ways. We might spend money we don't have, we might turn to mind-numbing substances, we might drink too much - or we might overeat.

Studies show that laughter can promote improved blood circulation, stimulate digestion and lower blood pressure. Researchers have found that laughter can stimulate the brain to release endorphins that regulate appetite and cause feelings of pleasure.

How can we add humor to our lives? Take some time to read, watch, or listen to something funny, such as a comedy show or the comics. Share jokes with your friends and family. Try to incorporate good-natured humor into conversations, meetings or memos. Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself. Play with a pet. Animals are known to do crazy things that make people laugh - ever see those home videos on TV? Try to start off with a laugh in the morning to put yourself in a good mood for the rest of the day.

That is all well and good, but what about when I get hungry at night?

Physiological and psychological reasons cause people to become hungry at night. Blood sugar levels naturally drop toward the end of the day, causing the body to crave fuel.

If a meal is skipped, that sugar level drop is exacerbated. The lower it is, the hungrier a person gets. Drinking coffee during the day can also make matters worse. Caffeine causes elevated insulin levels and cravings to kick in.

You may be able to avoid hunger at night by spreading out your foods so that you are eating every three or four hours (smaller meals). For example, eating breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, a mid-day snack, and dinner can help maintain blood sugar levels. You can even have an evening snack.

A great choice would be to consume a dairy exchange, such as a yogurt. It will satisfy a sweet tooth and provide a soothing effect to help you sleep (due to the sedating effect from the amino acid tryptophan in milk).

Try not to eat a large meal before sleeping. Your metabolism slows down and your digestive system needs time to rest during sleep. The simplest solution is to eat well and consistently throughout the day.