As a person with type 1 narcolepsy, I often struggle to feel gratified from the food that I eat. A 2016 study found that it is common for people with type 1 narcolepsy to suffer from obesity and increased food cravings.1
The same biological mechanism that makes people with narcolepsy tired also makes them hungry. When my narcolepsy symptoms onset in 2017, I started gaining weight rapidly. It took me a while to realize that this weight gain was happening due to my increased, and seemingly insatiable, appetite. My hunger was endless.
Simple carbs and sugars in junk food
Given the opportunity and means, I could truly eat a table full of junk food to myself. This is especially true if I am experiencing sleep attacks. Simple carbs and sugars are my downfall.
They provide a temporary spike in what my narcoleptic body recognizes as “energy.” Fading in between sleep and awake only serves to intensify these feelings of hunger.
Hard to control my diet in the evenings
I often have sleep attacks in the evening hours due to my condition. When I was gaining weight uncontrollably, it took me a while to realize that I was binge-eating food at night. I could spend an entire day eating “clean.” However, my evenings were often a different story.
Mindless eating during my evening sleep attacks became normal for me. It took me a few years to figure out that this was leading to my weight gain.
Learning to eat smarter
I learned over time that in order to control my weight, I have to be smarter than my illness. Currently, I do not allow myself to eat past 7 p.m. This serves the purpose of ensuring that I do not binge during my evening sleep attack episodes. It also prevents me from making food choices that I would normally not make in my right mind.
For example, if someone were to offer me a cookie at 7 a.m. it would not be hard to refuse to partake in the snack. However, if someone were to offer me a cookie after daylight hours I would most likely happily munch on their gift.
An easy recipe for energy
I battle my constant cravings by choosing food options that keep me gratified for longer periods of time. This recipe contains complex carbohydrates and protein that, together, help me stay full throughout the day. I can often eat this meal in the early morning and not be hungry again until 2 p.m. in the afternoon.
I also struggle to cook for long periods of time due to sleep attacks. I use this recipe often because of how quick it is to make! The less effort I put into mealtimes leaves me more energy to tackle other daily tasks.
- 1 cup oats
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- pinch of salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon sugar
- ½ apple, chopped
- 1 cup unsweetened nut milk (of your choice)
- Combine all dry ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir.
- Chop apple and add to dry ingredients.
- Add unsweetened nut milk to dry ingredients. Stir until all ingredients are blended.
- Microwave on high for 2 ½ minutes.
- Once bowl is cool enough to touch, remove from microwave. Enjoy.
Serving size: one bowl
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 2.5 minutes
Have you struggled with cravings or weight gain from narcolepsy? Do you have go-to recipes that help keep you full? Share with us in the comments below!
Have you taken our In America Survey yet?