Overeating at night is probably the #1 issue I hear about from clients and anyone asking me about their eating habits.
They can do well all day long, sticking with a very exact meal plan (which I don’t give out, by the way), and then it all falls apart right around bedtime and it can often feel like a mystery and complete failure of willpower.
It’s actually much more complex than that and coming from a girl with experience in this area in my own life, I want you to understand the real reasons as to why this keeps happening so that you can make a positive change.
Before we dive in, I want to make one thing clear: while eating right before bedtime is not ideal for digestion, it doesn’t really have much to do with weight gain, unless you are consuming more calories than your body actually needs. If you are consuming just the right amount of calories for your body and your activity level, then the time of consumption doesn’t make a lot of difference, contrary to popular belief.
The problem is when you regularly find yourself at the bottom of a tub of ice cream and a bag of chips regularly and it feels as though this is becoming a habit that it impacting your physical and emotional well being.
So what exactly are we doing that is causing all of this late night binging?
#1. SLEEP DEPRIVATION
I’m starting things off with sleep because this is the single biggest factor that can shift how we eat, digest food, workout, and treat others as well as ourselves. Because honestly, we all know that we aren’t at our best when we’re running low on sleep. Yet for some reason, far too many of us find ourselves watching “just one more episode” on Netflix, scrolling aimlessly through social media, or simply avoiding going to bed out of laziness.
What do I mean by avoiding bedtime out of laziness? It depends on your bedtime routine and what you “need to get done” before bed. Bedtime can start to feel time-consuming and complicated if you know you have to take off eye makeup, wash your face, moisturize, maybe take out your contact lenses, THEN brush your teeth and get into bed. When you’re already tired, it can feel completely exhausting. Instead, counter-intuitively, I’ve been known to completely rebel and just refuse to go to bed for a bit longer…..then wonder why I’m tired in the morning, ha!
#2. EATING MINDLESSLY
All of that scrolling through Instagram and picking a Netflix show can make a girl HUNGRY! Amiright?
Activities like social media and watching TV shows can be perfectly fine, to a point. It’s when we allow them to take over and run the show that things get out of hand. You know, when you settle onto the couch with the best of intentions and your phone for a quick peek at Facebook, only to look up and realize that an hour has passed and suddenly that entire box of crackers has disappeared, or the Oreos seem to be empty.
This can also be a big issue for getting good quality (and a healthy amount of) sleep. Blue lights aside, which can stimulate our brains and keep us awake at night, all this screen time can also keep us from even getting to bed, especially if we are snacking while we scroll.
I believe it was Ramit Sethi who put it best:
“If the only thing you have energy for is to play on your phone or watch TV, SLEEP.”
#3. LOOK AT WHAT YOU’RE EATING THE REST OF THE TIME
You may not be consuming enough at meals, which can leave your body wanting more. Late at night, that’s usually going to resemble some type of snack food which may not be helping you with the goals you want to achieve.
Ask yourself honestly what your typical meal looks like during the day. Are you being super restrictive with yourself? Do you have a healthy balance of protein, fats and carbs on your plate for each meal? Are meals being missed/skipped? How are your meals balanced throughout the day?
When we skimp on meals, our body tends to fight back after a while. This can feel like loss of control on our part, but it’s simply the body asking for more nourishment.
#4. YOUR WILLPOWER HAS WORN THIN
We all make hundreds of tiny micro-decisions every single day, and willpower is a muscle. It’s not finite and when stretched too thin, it’s not going to be there for you when you need it. This means that by the end of the day, and particularly by the end of a week when the weekend rolls around, cravings are likely to shoot through the roof, you might be out later socially, at events with food you wouldn’t typically have around, and feeling like you deserve a treat after a long week.
This can get out of hand quickly, as many people regularly experience. I did for years as well, and felt caught in a cycle of trying to eating “perfectly” (whatever that means) Monday – Friday and having my willpower so worn down in time for the weekend to show up that it felt like I had zero self control. It wasn’t working for me, and I had to make some big changes.
#5. IT’S A HABIT
It may be that at this point, you’ve been dealing with overeating at night for years. So long, in fact, that it’s now hard to see your evenings any other way. NOT snacking at night seems next to impossible.
If you are stuck in a pattern that feels as though it repeats itself over and over again, and feels so automatic you don’t even have to think about it or put effort in, you’ve developed a habit. Over time these habits become ingrained, but there are always ways to shake up your routines and trigger situations so that you can begin to develop new, healthier habits that you can feel good about.
HOW TO STOP OVEREATING AT NIGHT
Now that you know where things are going wrong, let’s get you where you want to be. I’ve put together this PDF packed full of all kinds of goodies that will help you figure out where you can start to make permanent lifestyle changes so that you can finally TAKE BACK your evenings and stop going to bed feeling guilty every night.
I want to help you get there and to make changes that will transform not only your eating, but your home and your life – and it’s easier than you think. Take it from a girl who used to regularly eat TWO giant bowls of popcorn every night (plus multiple other snacks….plus dinner…..) Trust me, it can be tough to know where to start, but I’ve got you covered, right down to reversing old habits that aren’t serving you and the lifestyle you want to achieve.