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Why You Binge Eat At Night-time & How To Stop It

Many people find themselves in front of the telly, enjoying Netflix and eating late at night, even when they aren’t hungry. Do you do this? It's a simple way to de stress from a hectic day by loosing yourself in a favourite drama, comedy or the latest reality show. However if this sort of chillaxing and eating in the evening is a daily habit, things need to change. Let's learn why...


Why You Binge Eat At Night-time & How To Stop It
Why You Binge Eat At Night-time & How To Stop It

"Oh yeah, and I do snack a little at night. But only a little."


I hear this all the time from new clients when I go through their initial coaching intake and quiz them on their eating habits, and it is usually quickly dismissed as not a big deal. However, if you are a regular night-time snacker it is a big deal, and can be interfering with your weight loss goals, interrupting your sleep patterns, triggering imbalances with your hormones and messing up your digestive system. Oppps!


A study in the journal Obesity, reported that the circadian system, an internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, prompts your body to reach for sweet, starchy, and salty foods in the evenings, especially around 8:00 pm. This can make night-time snacking very hard to resist, especially if you are already in the habit of having nibbles with your night-time Netflix binge.


To undo this poor eating habit, it is critical to identify the root cause of the problem, and unravel why you are eating after dinner, and then find constructive ways to stop it. For example, for some women, nighttime snacking is triggered by an unmet emotional need or used to fill a void, For others, it can stem from an overactivated appetite, unchecked stress, boredom, sleep deprivation (yes, lack of sleep makes your appetite ferocious), or an underlying health conditions such as anxiety, post partum depression or another imbalance.


Why You Binge At Night


There is a nutritional imbalance somewhere. The most common reason why you may binge in the evening is due the food you are consuming at breakfast. When your meals earlier in the day are not nutritionally satisfying (often due to dieting, unnecessary calorie restrictions or poor choices) you are far more likely to overeat late at night. So, if you regularly skimp or skip on breakfast, cruise through the morning on cola, energy drinks or lattes and barely have time for lunch, your body may not be satisfied with just dinner as your only sustaining meal of the day.


Empty calories, excess sugar, fast food and poor choices all add up to a hungry body later in the day. It creates a determinantal nutrient deficient. Your body is starving for real nutrients not preservatives, artificial flavours and greasy takeaway. But unfortunately when you eat a lot of overly processed foods, you will start to crave more!

Don't Skip Meals


As mentioned above, if you don’t adequately nourish your body during the day, you will be far more likely to experience food cravings or binge at night. A study published in the medical journal, Nutrition, discovered that late-night snacking is associated with "fewer calories consumed at breakfast and with breakfast skipping."


Don't skip meals. Instead have a wholesome brekkie with a balance of clean protein, healthy fats, and high fibre carbs. A green smoothie, protein overnight oats, an egg muffin or protein pancakes are examples of quick and easy densely nutritious breakfast ideas. If you are stuck for ideas, check out my breakfast Pinterest board for more inspiration.


Try a small snack if you just can't stomach breakfast first thing. Some people just can't eat until later in the morning, However, a shot of a protein shake, piece of high-fibre fruit like apples or berries and a handful of nuts make a satisfying, nutritious snack that is light on the tummy.


Have Dinner A Little Later


I've had clients push dinnertime a little later into the evening and greatly curb their evening snacking. A late dinner can help ward off the night-time munchies but the caveat is you need to consume only a wholesome, light meal. Eating Maccas at 730pm won't do you as much good as having a home cooked meal of veggies on a quinoa base. If you choose right, you'll feel fuller into those evening hours where you usually feel the urge to snack. You also may want to nudge lunch a little later in the day to make it easier to wait.


TASK: Experiment and see what works best for your body. For most clients, they had the best success by eating between 6:30pm - 7:30pm. If you go past this time you could run into digestion issues. Eating too close to your bedtime can interfere with your body having to digest food instead of it's usual rejuvenation night-time processes. The old saying, eat “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” is just one way to fight the tendency to crave or eat in the evening.


Have A Food Curfew


Personally, I make sure I've eaten my last main meal of the day no later than 6pm, and limit any snacking to just fruit which is super easy to digest. Having a 'food curfew' helps me maintain my weight and avoid disrupting my sleep with digestion. This idea may prove very effective for you too if you have strong willpower and are able to resist cravings with a little incentive.


TASK: Ask your spouse or kids to support you by telling them you're not allowed to eat after a certain time. If they catch you snacking, give them a dollar to put in a jar or some other reward. Make it fun for everyone, not a punishment or argument. You may also want to reverse this and give yourself the reward if you can go a full week without snacking in the evenings. Gift yourself a self-care product, spa treatment or time for yourself doing something you love.


“It’s not a character flaw. It’s simple biology. In functional medicine, we look at the root causes of health problems ― like how powerful hormones trigger night-time food cravings,” explains functional medicine specialist Mark Hyman, MD.

Baby, It's Hormonal


Research suggests that the human body’s internal clock increases hunger and cravings for sweet, starchy, and salty foods in the evenings. This is a hormonal response is much like the hormones ghrelin and lecithin that regulate your daytime hunger cues, and the release of melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy before bed. If your hormones are imbalanced, it can play havoc with your appetite, increase cravings and challenge the healthy changes you are trying to implement.


Low leptin, elevated ghrelin: Ghrelin and leptin are your hunger hormones. Together, they control feelings of hunger and fullness. The hormone, ghrelin, stimulates your appetite while its leptin's job to tell you to stop. Late night eating can be an indicator that you are suffering from low levels of leptin.


Peptide YY. This hormone is made in the small intestine. It helps to reduce your appetite and helps you limit your food intake. The amount of PPY released depends on the type and quantity of food you've just eaten. Peptide YY levels may also be affected and drop when you don’t get adequate sleep.


Low melatonin levels: this hormone regulates your sleep patterns, including drowsiness, falling and staying asleep. Eating too close to bedtime can interrupt this hormone's job. Therefore, it is best to stop eating before 8:00 pm. Eating too late into the evening interferes with the body's release of melatonin, which is necessary to induce sleep.


Increased cortisol levels: Cortisol is a hormone that gets released when we are under stress. It is naturally high first thing in the morning and gradually decreases later in the day and at night-time. If you have high levels of cortisol, it can result in the inability to fall asleep. Missing even one night's sleep can lead to feeling hungry the next and lead to overeating.


In order to be sure you have a hormonal imbalance, you will need to see your GP for advice and testing.


Hydrate & Glow From The Inside Out


On average, adults need 2.5 - 3 litres of water each and every day for optimum health. Plain old water is an essential part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Your body relies on a regular daily supply of water to function properly. Many of your body’s chemical processes take place in water such as your body's digestion and nutrient absorption, bowel function and to regulate your body temperature. Keeping properly hydrated also supports your mental state by decreasing anxiety and depression while boosting your mood. Water can to reduce those pesky sugar cravings and help you better balance your weight without dieting.


One way I help my clients keep up with their hydration is through my round up of infused water recipes. Drinking fresh water infused with fruit, veggies or garden herbs is nutrient dense and tasty way to hydrate and cleanse the body. Click here to explore infused recipes.


There Is No Need For Deprivation


Making healthy changes takes time. It takes time to wrap your head around new concepts, form new habits, try new things and put the effort in to see them happen. Even during the process of change, you may stumble and fall. This is all part of the journey. Be ready, willing and able. By being motivated and becoming aware of what needs to change, you will be laying the groundwork to success.


Healthy + happiness,

Emma

xox


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12 commenti

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Ospite
13 nov 2021

So helpful Emma... thank you!!!

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Membro sconosciuto
05 dic 2021
Risposta a

Thank you Sara, glad you found the tips and article of value! Hope you're well babes? 😘

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Ospite
02 set 2021

Oh help I’m always snacking when I watch TV at night time… I find it relaxes me!!!

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Membro sconosciuto
13 set 2021
Risposta a

Oh that's such a common one!! Oftentimes we need to fiddle or do something wiht our hands while sitting idle. I've had some clients have great success chewing gum, using a fidget spinner or other non-food items to help curb the urge to snack unnecessary. Give it a go.

Health + happiness,

Emma

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Ospite
02 set 2021

Nighttime eating...the worst! I'm so bad at that...ice cream is my weakness!!!

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Membro sconosciuto
15 set 2021
Risposta a

Very common!! You may not be consuming enough protein or nutrients throughout the day if craving sugary foods in later arvo through to nighttime. It could be low blood sugar levels or imbalances, simply just a habit... happy to chat about it.

Health + happiness,

Emma

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Ospite
29 ago 2021

Hi Emma Lisa, how do I figure out is its hormonal or not? I just can't seem to find balance. Can you help me?

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Membro sconosciuto
15 set 2021
Risposta a

You might need to visit the GP. Let's chat about it.

Health + happiness,

Emma

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Ospite
28 ago 2021

Great read, Emma, I’m sooooo guilty of this!! 🤦‍♀️ After reading this I got no more excuses, do !? 😂 Rach xx

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