It’s 9:00 at night, you have just put the kids to sleep and it’s finally quite. You’re able to sit down and mindlessly watch your favorite shows on T.V. Before you sit down you go out to the kitchen, grab some popcorn and now you’re ready to go. At first it is a smart choice and a healthy portion but then something happens. Perhaps you saw a commercial for a deep dish pizza, maybe you skipped lunch and that’s catching up to you, or worse…you’ve had a bad day.
Before we go on: if you feel you have a binge eating disorder PLEASE go get help. Check out the National Eating Disorder Association website on Binge Eating Disorders (BED) or the American Psychological Association AND talk to your doctor, counselor, or psychologist/psychiatrist.
Otherwise let’s go through some simple tips to avoid the nighttime binge so you can keep with your health and wellness goals!
Tip 1: Decide if you are truly hungry. Nighttime eating can be a multi-dimensional issue so breaking it down and asking yourself a few questions can help. The first and most important question is “Am I hungry?” If yes then pick a smart snack! If no, then go on to tip 2.
Tip 2: If you’re not hungry, then why do you want to eat? That leads us to the next question to ask yourself. “What happened today that is making me want to eat when I’m not hungry?” Most of the time you had a “day”. One of those terrible, awful, no good, very bad days are 9 times out of 10 the reason people binge at night. S-T-R-E-S-S. Instead of finding a healthy outlet we resort to food but the problem is, the foods we binge on usually do not make us feel better and in fact can lead us down the guilt cycle which increases our stress. Many times “binge worthy foods” are also highly processed, have little to no nutritional value and are loaded with either sugar, fat, salt or a combination of the three.
Tip 3: Find something else to relieve that stress. Take a bath, read a book, knit, crochet, exercise, take a walk, pray, meditate, just do something other than waste calories on mindless eating (drinking too much alcohol is not an option either).
Tip 4: Keep “binge worthy food” out of the house. Hear me out…you don’t NEED ice cream, potato chips, cookies, cake, candy, chocolate, doritos, etc, etc, etc. You NEED nutrients that are not coming from any of the above for-mentioned foods. When you’re grocery shopping, don’t even go down those aisles…they aren’t for you. If the nuts, frozen vegetables, or other awesome foods are unfortunately placed in these areas, put your blinders on and go, otherwise steer clear.
Tip 5: It is actually ok to eat at night. In fact, I recommend eating every 3-4 hours so if you ate supper at 5:00 pm and you are physically hungry at 8:00 or 9:00 please eat! Limit yourself to 100-200 calories (see my snack article that was highlighted in tip 1) and choose a smart snack!
Tip 6: Ask yourself one final question: “Is this food/Are these foods (whatever you want to eat) going to help me with my nutrition goals?” If the answer is yes, you’re probably going to eat a smart snack in a portion controlled environment. If the answer is “uhhh…ummmm…errrhhh…no” then really think about what you are wanting from your nutrition and goals.
I hope these tips were helpful to you. Eating too much at night is a problem for many people but we can combat that by stress reduction and asking ourselves those few questions.
Again, if you feel that you need help with a binge eating disorder (or any other eating disorder or disordered eating thoughts) please get help.