Do you find yourself engaging in nightime emotional eating?
Does stress or anxiety make you crave comfort food at night? Generally that food tends to be sweet, sugar, and containing a lot of fat.
Well, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with nighttime emotional eating, and it can sabotage how you feel about yourself AND how your body feels.
Why do we overeat at nighttime?
Nighttime emotional eating is a common issue for many people, and it’s often linked to stress, boredom, loneliness, fatigue, or anxiety. When you feel overwhelmed or depleted, or you have unresolved emotions from the day, you can tend to seek comfort in food. This might provide temporary relief, but it can also lead to guilt, shame, digestive issues, and weight concerns.
Moreover, emotional eating can disrupt your sleep patterns and affect your energy, mood, and mental clarity. So, it’s important to understand the underlying reasons behind your nighttime emotional eating and address them effectively.
How do we stop the nighttime emotional eating cycle?
One way to stop nighttime emotional eating is to identify the feelings that trigger it. For example, keeping a food/mood log can help you track your emotions before and after you eat. This can reveal patterns and associations between your mood, behaviors, and environment, and help you make other choices.
You can also try to cultivate increasing coping mechanisms for stress and emotions, such as:
- Deep breathing
- Talking to a friend or a therapist.
These habits can help you release tension, increase self-awareness, and reduce the need for nighttime overeating.
A second way to stop nighttime emotional eating is to notice your eating throughout the day. For example, using the Food/Mood Log you can identify your pattern of eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This can help you determine what is YOUR way of eating that makes you feel more satiated and less prone to binge at night.
A third way to break nighttime eating is to engage in a regular bedtime and routine in the evening. You then know what to expect and it regulates your emotions and body. This can signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down, and not associate bedtime with snacking.
Lastly, a way to stop nighttime emotional eating is to address any underlying medical issues that might be causing it. For example, sleep apnea, depression, or hormonal imbalances can affect your appetite, metabolism, and mood, and make you more prone to binge eating at night. Therefore, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider and get proper diagnosis and treatment if needed. This can help you improve your overall health and quality of life.
In the end, nighttime emotional eating can be challenging and frustrating, but it is not impossible to overcome. By understanding your triggers, managing your stress and emotions, modifying your eating habits and environment, and addressing any medical issues, you can prevent or curb your cravings, and improve your physical and mental well-being.
Remember, it is not about willpower or self-control, but about self-compassion, self-care, and self-awareness. You deserve to feel good about yourself, inside and out, as well as nurture your body and mind.
So, start a new plan today. Be patient and try some of the ideas mentioned above.
You got this!
Kim McLaughlin, MA is a Psychotherapist, Speaker, Author, and Coach who specializes in working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. She is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She is the author of the best-selling book Feed Your Soul Nourish Your Life! A Six Step System to Peace with Food and the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Discovery Your Inspiration.
You can find Kim on her podcast Feed Your Soul with Kim and you can find it on all podcast platforms.
Wondering if you are an emotional eater? Sign up for the free Am I an Emotional Eater Quiz.