Do you find yourself overeating late at night?...You are not alone! Many individuals experience this and typically the foods are higher in calories and sugar. This can have an impact on our blood sugar levels, weight, sleep, how we feel the next day, and just our overall health and well-being. Here are some tips to support you with breaking down the barrier of late-night eating.
Determine the Cause or Trigger: Individuals late night eat for a variety of reasons including boredom, stress, hunger, drinking, binge eating disorder, and nighttime eating syndrome. Identifying the cause can support us with taking the appropriate steps to solve the problem. When you get the urge to late-night eat, consider taking a mindful moment before grabbing the food to reflect on how you are feeling. You might notice in that moment that you are stressed or even bored. This will help you to determine the cause, which in return can help you to break down the barrier.
Keep a "Food Mood Journal": Write down the times you eat, what you eat, and how you are feeling before and after meals. Journaling your food and feelings can support you with recognizing any cycles that are causing you to overeat at night. You might notice that you feel down or even "hangry" before binge eating. These observations can help you identify any triggers that are driving the late-night eating such as not eating enough throughout the day or not managing stress or emotions well.
Eat Regularly Throughout the Day: Often individuals restrict themselves throughout the day to where they are overly hungry at night. When this happens, they are more likely to make poor food choices and overeat. Eating regular meals will help with satiety and help you to better manage cravings and food impulses. On top of this, it can also fuel your metabolism and energy levels, and even put you in a better mood.
De-stress: Stress and anxiety are one of the most common reasons individuals eat when they are not hungry. Consider trying some relaxing techniques before eating such as deep breathing, meditating, journaling, exercising, taking a hot bath, stretching, doing yoga, getting out in nature, coloring, reading, praying, etc.
Seek Professional Support: If you think you have an eating disorder, consider seeking professional help. They can provide you the tools and support you may need to limit late night or emotional eating.
Establish a Routine: Having a structure for eating and sleep times can support you with spreading your food consumption throughout the day, rather than saving it all for nighttime. If you find that you are not hungry during the day, consider starting with smaller nutritious meals and snacks. Once you start implementing this, you might realize that you were hungrier than you thought during the day.
Eat Well Balanced Meals: Include a complex carb such as brown rice, lean protein such as salmon, fruits and/or veggies, and a healthy fat such as avocado into your meals. For snacks, consider having some fiber such as an apple and some protein such as peanut butter or Greek yogurt. This will fuel your body with a variety of nutrients that can prevent you from being overly hungry at night.
Plan Ahead: Too often individuals skip meals or snacks because they did not plan ahead. Sometimes they might even forget to eat due to the busyness of the day. Consider planning out your meals, having healthy snacks on hand, and even setting alarms or putting meal and snack times on your calendar if you tend to get caught up in the day.
Distract Yourself: Often boredom or stress is a result of overeating late at night. If you recognize this as a trigger, consider trying to step away from grabbing food and doing something else you enjoy such as calling a friend, going on a walk or bike ride, reading, playing a game with your kids, etc.
Choose Healthier Options: If you are finding it challenging to break the late-night eating habit, consider starting with healthier substitutions. For example: Rather than having ice cream for your sweet tooth, choose foods such as Greek Yogurt and berries, frozen fruit, homemade banana ice cream, or a piece of fruit with a TBSP of nut butter. If you tend to binge late at night, it might be helpful to portion out your serving ahead of time. Make sure to still reflect on how you feel before and after eating the healthier option. You might notice you feel better than when you eat a lot of ice cream, which in return can support you with eventually breaking the habit.
Thank you for stopping by! I hope you have a happy and healthy rest of your week!