For some of us, life’s stressors and fears lead us to bad decisions around food. This includes eating the wrong things, eating too much, or night time eating which can pack on pounds in a very short time.
If you’re eating before bed or later in the night, even when you’re not hungry, you’re probably using food to manage stress, anger, frustration, sadness, fill in the blank. And you’re definitely not alone.
Here are some important reasons to avoid night time eating—and tips on how to stop using food to manage stress.
The Vicious Cycle of Night Time Eating
Eating later at night affects your body in several ways:
- Poor Sleep – Because your body has to digest food at a time when those muscles should be resting, you take longer to get into the slow-wave sleep that lets you wake up refreshed (if you get to sleep at all).
- Out-of-Sync Metabolism – Eating at night disrupts our circadian rhythms, which then disrupts the release hormones that regulate sleep, appetite, and stress. When these hormones are off-kilter, so is our metabolism.
- Food Hangover – Yes, this is real. After eating late at night, you wake up with a food hangover that makes you avoid eating until the afternoon or evening, and then the cycle starts again.
Of these three, lack of sleep is a major factor of stress eating during the day as well as at night. Getting enough sleep is the key to breaking this cycle.
Why Sleep Is Critical
Getting enough sleep is one of the best ways to effectively manage stress, and recent studies have shown that lack of sleep keeps us from making thoughtful food decisions.
In one study, employees with high-stress jobs “reported less stress eating on days when they had had a good night’s sleep the night before.”
And lack of sleep makes you hungry! It creates cravings for fat and sugar. Results from another study showed that “partially sleep deprived people take in an average extra 385 calories a day.”
How To Reduce Night Time Stress Eating
It’s not easy to break the cycle of stress eating at any time of day, but these tips can help you get started.
- Know your triggers. One of the best ways to reduce or end stress eating at any time of day is to become aware of why you do it. Slow down and ask yourself what purpose this food serves for you.
- Keep a mood and food journal. Keep track of what you eat and why you’re eating it. You’ll start to discover your triggers which will help you break the cycle of emotional eating.
- Eat enough during the day. This will reduce your cravings for food at night. But make sure it’s healthy food. As Eliot says, “If it doesn’t grow from the ground or walk, swim, or fly, it shouldn’t be on your plate.” Having a meal plan is a good way to stay on track.
- Learn new ways to de-stress. Instead of turning to food when things get rough, try some relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga (Why Weight has certified yoga instructors), breathing practices, gentle exercise, or even a hot bath.
- Keep healthy food at home and at work. Cravings will come despite our best efforts, but this ensures you’ll at least be eating something that’s good for you instead of junk food.
- Change your routine. If a certain TV show is your cue to eat at night, try watching something else or turn off the set and do a little exercise. Awareness of your habits is the first step to changing them.
- Get support if you need it. This can be anything from a friend you can call when life gets you down to a professional therapist. We all can use a little help sometimes.
Everyone has some sort of stress to deal with. It’s just a part of life. Learning to handle that stress in positive, healthy ways is one key to a long and healthy life.
The Why Weight Transformation Program is an all-natural, safe, and effective way to lose weight by assessing the factors involved in fat storage and fat metabolism utilizing Bio-Marker Scanning technology, which help bring your body into the optimal fat burning zone. Contact us for a free evaluation.
You can also check out our FREE e-book, “Break The Sugar Habit.” Learn the scientific reasons behind sugar addiction and what you can do to break the bonds. CLICK HERE for your copy!