How to Stop Binge Eating at Night - It’s Stressing Me Out!
Written by: Meenakshi Joshi – M. Sc (Psychology)
Last updated date : December 16, 2022
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It has become very common nowadays to work or study at night. Being awake at night is the new normal. So naturally, if you are awake at night, you will get hungry or bored. Binging in the night has become a big issue. Let’s discuss what exactly is binging at night, why do we engage in this habit, and how to stop binge eating at night.
What Is Binging at Night?
Binging at night might be a result of one or a combination of these factors –
- Not eating enough during dinner
- Stress or nervousness
- Sleep problems or insomnia
- Going through depression
- Waiting for an event or result
- Hormonal issues
However, on the negative side, you might feel guilty for this act of yours. Also, if you continue to do this, there is a huge chance that you will gain weight. Gaining weight and engaging in these unhealthy food habits can cause long-term harmful health issues such as diabetes, heart problems, digestive problems, etc.
Night Eating Syndrome (NES)
Thus, it is important to correctly understand what you do and what your habits are so that you can take proper corrective actions.
How Do I Stop Binge Eating at Night?
However, you might not be able to stop binge eating at night. The urge to eat something interesting while working or studying is too high. Similarly, those hunger pangs make concentrating too difficult. Making a yummy plate of instant noodles or eating that packet of chips is too tempting. There are times when you might stress eating to feel relaxed or to calm your nerves. For example. You might crave ice cream and finish an entire box when you are stressed out about a big exam the next day.
There are several ways or strategies that you apply to stop this habit. It might take some time to change your habits. You might have to use more than one strategy to get a method that works for you. Even then, you might go back and forth or might have to modify your method as needed. Let’s first look at some ways you can stop binge eating at night.
Correct your hormonal imbalanceChanges in your body clock, i.e. sleeping and waking times, can cause hormonal changes which affect appetite. Cortisol is an important hormone that can cause night binging. In the daytime, your body follows hunger and satiety cues to know when you are feeling hungry and need to eat and when you are full. These cues are not followed during changes in the body clock. These changes may be a result of experiencing stress. If you don’t get enough sleep, then that too can result in these changes.
Correcting this cycle and your body clock by following a fixed and healthy sleep pattern can help. Decide a time you will stop working or watching TV or series and go to bed. If you are feeling stressed, don’t hesitate to take action to deal with this stress by getting professional help, exercising, using relaxation techniques, etc.
To stop binge eating at night, eat properly during the dayFollowing a good and healthy diet during the day and overall engaging in eating habits can help you stop binge eating at night. Some easy tips you can follow are
- Have a fixed routine for meals. Decide your breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner time and try to stick to them as much as possible
- Do not stay hungry, fast frequently, or skip breakfast or other meals
- Eat a good nutritious diet – make sure you eat your leafy green vegetables and fibrous food – salads, vegetable soups
- A high protein diet helps to get a feeling of being full
- Avoid or limit processed and ready-to-eat foods
- Avoid salty, starchy, and sweet foods in the evening
Handling triggersTriggers are cues or things that remind you or provoke you to do something. Binge eating can also be triggered by certain things. For example, you usually tend to eat a huge bowl of ice cream or an entire packet of cookies while watching an after-dinner movie in the night.
The best way to deal with such triggers is the avoid them completely. “Out of sight, out of mind”! This principle truly works here. Do not buy food that you tend to binge on.
Another way to handle triggers is the break to the association we create knowingly or unknowingly. For example, Late night work means snack at pizza at midnight! We might initially use this to increase our motivation to work, but it gradually becomes an association or ritual. Substitute unhealthy foods or your favourite foods that you might binge on with healthier snacks such as fruits, crackers, etc.
Get emotional supportAnother reason for binge eating at night is emotional disturbances. When you are upset or stressed, you are unable to sleep well, and then you go on a binge eating spree. Similarly, going through a difficult life event or loss can also cause these bouts of overeating.
If you are experiencing any trauma or emotional distress, you should get help. Do not turn to food to “fill in the blanks” or “feel good”. Comfort food will give you relief only for some time. It is not a permanent solution to your issue.
Instead, change your habits! Channelize these emotions to do something productive or creative. Do not just stop binge eating night, instead start new activities throughout the day that will help you better your overall mood and give you a fresh outlook.
Some simple things you can do to overcome your emotional issues
- Start therapy – sometimes we all need help to make sense of things and deal with situations
- Exercise – go for a walk or run or join a gym
- Start meditation – you can easily do this at home to relax your mind and body
- Join a new hobby class – What are you waiting for? This is the next time to learn that skill you always wanted to!
- Get creative, get busy – if you are a creative person, get busy. Use your creative energy to make something beautiful!
So, How Do I Stop Binge Eating at Night, Again?
- Plan your meals – eat balanced nutritious food in correct proportions.
- Stick to your schedule – fixed time for meals
- Get proper sleep – 8 hours of sleep, and yes, go to bed on time!
- Relaxation techniques will help to reduce stress.
- Get help to deal with emotional disturbances.
- Avoid triggers – ask yourself “why” am I eating? Can I stop myself from eating?
- Be active – exercise.
- Spend time on your hobbies – get a little “me” time
Lastly, most importantly, do not restrict yourself or become too critical about yourself. And, of course, do not stress about binge eating. It might lead to you binging even more than before. Aim for a healthy and active lifestyle!