Night-time eating can be a struggle for many people. Are you constantly finding yourself in the pantry after dinner? Or find yourself in the fridge without even realising how you got there? Or maybe you can’t stop eating until you are really uncomfortable?
You are not alone! The scenario I described above is common among my clients. They are fine all day, but as soon as the afternoon approaches – those dreaded cravings creep in. And despite eating dinner, they can not stop eating. Why does this happen? Well, there are both physiological and psychological reasons…
1.Physiological Reasons For Night-Time Eating
Some people simply don’t eat enough calories throughout the day which leads to night-time eating. Essentially, if we skip meals our body will want to ‘catch up’ on those calories later on. Our body does not like being in a high-calorie deficit situation (understandably). So, it’s critical you eat regular nourishing calorie-dense meals; so you can sustain yourself in the evening.
If your blood sugar is fluctuating throughout the day you will crave more at night. For example, eating processed carbohydrates and sugary foods will lead to blood sugar spikes and drops. And once the afternoon arrives, because you are tired and had this ‘blood sugar dance’, you will be craving something sweet. So it’s critical to look into your blood sugar as a cause of this night-time craving.
How Do We Stabilize Our Blood Sugar?
Simply, we integrate protein and healthy fats into every meal. Further, it helps to add complex carbohydrates for breakfast, lunch, and a little bit for dinner. If you feel like you need snacks, you should be adding a snack between lunch and dinner. Snacks should be combining fats, protein, and fibre. For example, fruit and nuts, veggies with cottage cheese, boiled eggs, or banana with peanut butter. Essentially, to keep your blood sugar stabilised ensure you eat enough and regular calories throughout the day
2. Psychological Reasons For Night-Time Eating
Once we ensure the physiological reasons are covered, we can move into the potential psychological reasons. So ask this critical question – ‘When you eat after dinner, are you actually hungry? Or do you feel like you eat mindlessly?’ If that is the case, it might be a habitual pattern. And if you have been doing this for a long long time, it might be an ingrained family pattern. Ultimately though, if this is a habit, it is important to look into the habit loop.
We create habits through a trigger, behaviour, and reward. The (trigger) might be watching TV at night-time. The (behaviour) is grabbing a bag of chips and eating it. The (reward) is feeling relaxed, time with family and it tastes good. (Importantly, there is always a reward to a habit)
Interrupt The Loop Of Night Time Eating
Ultimately though, we need to interrupt this loop for change. Do you want to change the trigger? Or the behavior? We still want to have the reward because as humans we are naturally wired to seek pleasure. So we just need to find another way to feel this pleasure. We have 2 options – change the trigger or the behaviour.
Change The Behaviour
The behaviour is eating. We might consciously change this to different behavior in front of the TV. For example, stretching, weight training, doodling, painting. The reward is still spending time with family. And even better, you go to bed feeling good because you are not overly full!
Change The Trigger
The second option is changing the trigger of watching TV (maybe TV does not stimulate you anyway?!). You might decide consciously to play with your children, talk to your partner, read a book, study, cook, do yoga, or have a warm relaxing bath. Ultimately, you need to change what triggers the eating (TV changes to different activity). Or you keep the trigger but change the behavior (eating fruit instead).
STOP Night-Time Eating For Good
Let’s make conscious decisions and interrupt the habit loops for long-term change. Creating new pathways of joy and pleasure in our life can be fun and empowering. If you want to end night-time eating, download my (completely FREE Night-Time Survival Guide Workbook). This workbook will give more tips and tricks about how to get through the night without over-eating or binge eating. Reach out if you have any questions or need more support. Eugenia x (PS For more on my own personal journey recovering from binge-eating disorder, check out this blog)
Night Time Survival Guide
HOW TO GET THROUGH THE NIGHT WITHOUT BINGE EATING
Ditch night-time binges. Feel in control and live a life fueled by freedom instead of diets, weight, and food obsession.
- Simple yet powerful action steps
- Learn reasons for binge eating at night time.
- Understand what to eat and how much to eat
- Address the root causes
- Eat flexibly without restrictions and rules
DOWNLOAD FREE GUIDE