How do I stop binge eating at night? Is this harmless or not?
You’re certainly not the only one who makes a pit stop at the fridge before bed. So no reason to worry if it doesn’t get in the way of a healthy sleep pattern.
As a general rule, nighttime binges are more common than thought and can thoroughly disrupt sleeping patterns. It is important to find out if these are a result of a disorder. Regular meal times and the right sleep-inducing environment are also a great help to stop binge eating at night.
Continue reading to find out where this craving for food late in the evening or at night comes from, and how you can prevent the quality of your sleep from suffering?
Table of Contents
- 1 How do I stop binge eating at night? Introduction
- 2 Cause of nighttime binge eating: Sleep problems
- 3 Ways to prevent binge eating: Tips
- 3.1 Make sure you don’t bring unhealthy snacks into the house
- 3.2 Restore your biorhythm
- 3.3 Eat at regular intervals during the day
- 3.4 Provide a good sleeping environment
- 3.5 Eat more protein
- 3.6 Stop negotiating with yourself
- 3.7 Avoid stress
- 3.8 Eat a (healthy) breakfast
- 3.9 Increase your portions of healthy food during the day
- 3.10 Go outside and be active
- 4 Followed all the tips and still hungry?
- 5 And if you train in the evening?
- 6 How do I stop binge eating at night? Conclusion
How do I stop binge eating at night? Introduction
Wake up hungry, get up for a minute, and eat something to satisfy your hunger.
It may not sound like a big deal, but nighttime eating isn’t always harmless.
Nightly binges are not just an ailment: Two types of disorders
There are even 2 types of disorders in which a person gets up at night to raid the refrigerator or cookie cabinet:
- Night Eating Syndrome (also known as night binge eating disorder), and
- Sleep-Related Eating Disorders.
In both cases, you wake up several times during sleep with insatiable and annoying hunger. And only after you eat something can you get back to sleep.
Unfortunately, the food ingested during such a nightly binge is usually very high in calories.
Thus, often as much as 20% of daily calories are consumed during that nightly visit to the refrigerator or cookie cupboard. And it’s these nighttime calories that stick to the ribs because the metabolism runs slower during sleep.
And if you suffer from any of the above conditions, it may happen on a regular basis.
What exactly is the difference between Night Eating Syndrom (NES) and Sleep-Related Eating Disorders (SRED)?
People who struggle with NES are wide awake and fully aware of that bag of crisps or delicious doughnut they devour in the dead of night. A synonym for NES is intentional night eating.
On the other hand, if there is a Sleep-Related Eating Disorder, the person will not remember anything about their nightly escapade to the kitchen the following day. Indeed, such individuals eat while sleepwalking, a synonym for SRED.
Night Eating Syndrome is a recognized type of eating disorder. In contrast, a Sleep-Related Eating Disorder is a combination of an eating and sleep disorder.
Of course, that nighttime eating or sleep eating does not go unnoticed. Both physically and mentally, it profoundly impacts anyone who suffers from it.
Some symptoms of these conditions are as follows:
- Being dejected because of shame and guilt
- Weight gain
- have little to no appetite in the morning
And while everyone sometimes does strange things in their sleep, there is no denying that SRED carries risks.
For example, the sleepwalker may hurt himself by using knives or other kitchen appliances. Some even fire up the oven, fryer, or stove to prepare meals, pizzas, fries, and burgers.
Cause of nighttime binge eating: Sleep problems
Both disorders (both NES and SRED) can result from strict dieting during the day, stress (work-related, financial, familial, etc.), or disturbed biorhythms.
But your sleep quality is also a major contributing factor!
In fact, another sleep disorder is often at the root of the conscious or unconscious night eating.
Of course, you don’t have to worry right away if you have a bad night’s sleep once in a while but keep a close eye on your sleep pattern anyway.
You also end up in a vicious circle pretty quickly. During the day, you have less appetite by eating at night. Therefore, you are more likely to skip meals or eat less to compensate for your nighttime eating.
The result is that you get terribly hungry again in the evening or at night!
Ways to prevent binge eating: Tips
So breaking the eating pattern at night and adopting a healthy and regular sleep rhythm is the message.
But that’s easier said than done, of course. So that’s why we’re giving you some tips for taking targeted action.
Make sure you don’t bring unhealthy snacks into the house
This tip sounds logical but is usually overlooked.
Shop when you are not hungry. Then it’s a lot easier not to buy crisps, cookies, chocolate, and stop eating other unhealthy snacks.
Of course, if you don’t bring these unhealthy fatteners into the house, you can’t eat them.
Restore your biorhythm
Your diet will inevitably be disrupted by nighttime binge eating. But it also completely shakes up your sleep rhythm.
Therefore, try to restore your biorhythm. Get your eating pattern back on track by skipping absolutely no meals during the day and eating at set times, even when not hungry.
As for your sleep pattern, it is essential to always get up and go to sleep at regular intervals. Also, try to get enough sleep each night.
Eat at regular intervals during the day
Another thing that helps counteract the feeling of hunger in the evening is eating at set times in a regular pattern.
Your body then knows when to expect food, reducing the chances of waking up hungry at night.
Provide a good sleeping environment
To give your sleep another quality boost, make sure you have a comfortable sleeping environment that makes you feel good.
Everything starts with your bed. Does that still meet your needs, or is it actually in need of replacement?
Optimal sleeping comfort depends on a decent mattress, slatted base, down comforters, and pillows, entirely in line with your body and needs.
Not to mention your bedroom itself. Where better to sleep than in a space that exudes peace, warmth, and coziness?
With the right bedroom accessories and beautiful bedding, you’re well on your way to creating the right atmosphere.
Eat more protein
In the evening, eat a bowl of low-fat cottage cheese/yogurt or a boiled egg.
For many people, protein helps to counteract the feeling of hunger.
Stop negotiating with yourself
Make some clear rules for yourself about handling your hunger in the evening and at night, and always stick to them.
This will prevent you from constantly negotiating with yourself whether you might be able to eat something small after all.
For example, you could introduce as a rule that during the workweek, you eat absolutely nothing after 8 p.m., except on the days when you do a strength training session in the evening.
Not eating for many hours is very good for your digestion. And if you eat well during the day, you may actually not be really hungry in the evening. It’s usually just in your head then, and you’re only imagining that you’re hungry.
If you respect your strict rules, you will find this completely normal after 4-6 weeks. And you will experience little to no more hunger in the evening and at night.
If you’re tense throughout the day and before you crawl into bed, it is difficult to fall asleep.
Take a warm bath, read a chapter in a good book or listen to your favorite music. Whatever works best for you is fine.
Going to sleep relaxed is not only conducive to your sleep… Remember that stress is also a trigger of nighttime eating. So going to bed completely zen is essential to reduce the chances of nighttime hunger.
Eat a (healthy) breakfast
Do you ever skip breakfast? Don’t!
Start the day with a healthy breakfast with plenty of fiber, slow carbohydrates, fruit, and protein.
This helps keep your blood sugar better balanced throughout the day, significantly reducing nighttime binges.
Increase your portions of healthy food during the day
A common mistake is that people who want to lose weight eat way too little.
And that starts with breakfast. During the day, you can keep this up, but in the evening, your body will sound the alarm anyway.
During the day, you can still pull that off, but at night your body is screaming for calories. As a result, a nighttime hunger attack is more likely.
You get far too few nutrients, and your body forces you to snack, so to speak. This is how many people experience it.
Do you recognize this? Then first try increasing your portions a bit during the day, obviously based on healthy choices (lots of fruits and vegetables).
Consider oatmeal, whole-grain bread, more salad at lunch, and more vegetables with your dinner.
Go outside and be active
Funnily enough, your cravings disappear with active exercise.
So get off the couch, turn off your TV and computer, and get outside for a walk, jog, bike ride, etc.
Go for a walk or bike ride and look at things and objects in the environment that you love. In this way, you give yourself a distraction and automatically forget about that feeling of hunger in the evening.
Another thing that helps while walking is to think of yourself as slim and fit.
Imagine being completely slim. So how do you walk and run? How do you look around you? And how well does that make you feel? Try it. It works to avoid nightly binges.
Followed all the tips and still hungry?
Have you followed all of the above tips? Then there’s little chance you’ll have any unexpected cravings in the evening.
It’s best not to eat anything in the evening after your evening meal and make a habit of it.
It takes your body 3 to 4 weeks to get used to this, but after that, you will probably forget that you ever had hunger attacks.
Eating early enough and not eating anything after 8 p.m. will help you stay slim and fit.
An exception, of course, applies to people who work the night shift. In that case, you need to adjust your entire eating schedule to your work rhythm.
And if you train in the evening?
People who work out in the evening and then want to eat something afterward need to work differently.
If you eat well during the day, you don’t need to eat in the evening, even if you still exercise.
Unless, of course, you are doing hefty strength training or an intense cardio workout.
Then, for example, have another protein shake with a piece of banana or some oatmeal.
How do I stop binge eating at night? Conclusion
Step by step, wean yourself off the craving for unhealthy snacks and forgive yourself when you make a mistake.
But do pick up your healthy resolutions right after. Focus on what does work and believe in yourself. Perseverance wins!
How to stop binge eating at night may involve more than this.
Are the above tips not working, or do you suspect you are suffering from NES, SRED, or another sleep disorder? In that case, be sure to consult a physician.