Let’s talk about night time AKA the dangerous period after dinner where snacks are all the more tempting when you’re relaxing before heading to slumberland. Now, it’s quite common to crave for snacks after your meal and have one or two pieces. However, if you’re noticing an uncontrolled desire after dinner that leads to overeating for a long period, you may be struggling with binge eating at night and here’s why:
Reason #1: Not eating enough throughout the day
There could be two main reasons for this: a) following a strict diet that involves cutting out food groups or consuming very less calories OR b) not prioritising meals due to a very busy and hectic daily routine leading to skipping meals.
Naturally, your body needs food just like your car needs fuel. When food is limited, your body realises that the supply is not enough and signals this by your stomach rumbles and hunger pangs. Usually, we don’t act on these cues during the day as we are occupied and chose to ignore it. This is why the cravings seem more intense after dinner as our mind is finally free to acknowledge the signals. Binge eating then follows as you’re just really hungry from not having eaten enough the whole day.
Reason #2: Diet reset mindset
Unfortunately, the dieting mindset is still very much alive and well. What many among us don’t realise is that dieting is actually a contributing factor to binge eating.
When you strictly follow a long list of rules and regulations in your diet, two possibilities could happen if you accidentally bend the rules: a) you panic and overcompensate with exercise OR b) you go all in and decide to do it right tomorrow a.k.a. the diet reset mindset.
Overcompensation throughout the day by `saving calories’ then leads to overindulgence of cravings late at night.
Reason #3: Food as a coping mechanism
Are you someone who leans on food when experiencing emotional highs or lows? Or maybe you reach out for food when you’re bored or stressed. Actually, binge eating could be related to your relationship with food.
Snack foods are high in fat and sugar which can elevate your levels of dopamine. This chemical is what gives us a rewarding effect and could be why we find it much harder to control our intake of such foods.
Pondering on emotional or stressful thoughts at night could lead to overeating. This is especially important to consider if you don’t have an outlet to express your emotions as finding comfort in food may not be the best solution for your physical health in the long run.
Reason #4: Night owls
For those who have irregular working patterns such as shift work for long hours or those that stay awake through the night, you may also struggle with binge eating at night.
Usually, the longest period of fasting for us is between dinner and breakfast as we would be asleep during this period. When you’re awake, your body is still actively functioning which means you will get hungry after a few hours. As we usually don’t eat heavy meals at night, most night owls end up eating snack foods and could overeat them if too occupied with work.
Shift workers may experience this as well because the disruption in your sleeping pattern causes lack of sleep. Lack of sleep activates ghrelin, the hunger hormone, resulting in increased hunger. Eating at odd hours according to the start or end of a shift could cause binge eating as you may try to compensate for the long hours of not having meals.
The Bottom Line: Binge eating at night can be caused by various factors such as working conditions, dieting habits, and even emotional and mental status. It is not because you were ‘not being disciplined enough’ or ‘not doing a diet right’. The diet industry thrives on inducing guilt so don’t let them!
If you are in need of guidance for binge eating recovery or understanding food freedom, we are happy to assist you. Click here to book your Complimentary Binge Freedom Strategy Session today!