Imagine with me: You’ve had a hard day. Dinner’s over, and now you’re relaxing on the couch. This is the part of the day that you relish. . . mindless TV and binge eating.
If that scenario sounds familiar, it’s time to make a change. In this article, we’ll provide tips on how to stop binge eating at night. First, though, here are three key reasons why people overeat at night.
- You’re Not Eating Enough Throughout The Day
- You Are Following Strict Food Rules
- Emotional Eating
- The Problem With Evening Binge Eating
- How to Stop Binge Eating at Night
- Choose Healthy Evening Snacks
You’re Not Eating Enough Throughout The Day
If you do not meet your body’s nutrient needs throughout the day, it will respond by urging you to eat in the evening. This is its strategy for meeting its physiological needs.
You Are Following Strict Food Rules
The physical and psychological restrictions of strict eating rules will make you think more about food throughout the day. It’s not hard to start obsessing about the floods that you can’t have. However, that means that, in the evening, when you’re tired and hungry, you give in to the temptation.
If you don’t look after your emotional, physical, and physiological needs, you may turn to emotional eating in order to fill the void and gain some form of pleasure.
Discover how to stop emotional eating when temptation strikes.
The Problem With Evening Binge Eating
In the evenings, many of us end up in front of the TV or computer screens, periodically piling food into our mouths. Then, when we go to sleep, all of that unused fuel has nowhere to go—except, of course, onto our hips and thighs.
For many of us, the evening is downtime. It’s time for us to de-stress, switch our minds off, and do something for ourselves. For many people, that equation has resulted in consuming calorie-laden non-foods before bedtime. That is a recipe for weight gain. You need to be smarter than that by retraining your habits.
It’s also a smart idea to ensure that you have a decent length of time between your last meal of the day and your first meal of the next day. This gives your body ample time to heal and restore itself. This typically occurs in phase four of deep sleep.
Lying down in your bed is not the ideal position for your body to digest food. Yet that’s exactly what will happen if you eat after dinner is over. It’s a far better idea to have a relatively early dinner (5:30–6:00 pm) and go for an easy walk around the neighborhood about an hour later.
How to Stop Binge Eating at Night
Take a Post-Dinner Evening Walk
Not only will you be burning calories with a 30-minute evening stroll, but you will also be providing yourself with that vital—but oh so rare—daily requirement: time out. Try it once, and you’ll see just how much better you’ll feel than if you’d simply blobbed out on the couch. After a long, hard day, an evening walk also allows you to clear your mind. Even better, it will aid you in getting a good night’s sleep, which is another vital factor in attaining optimum wellness.
Going for a post-dinner walk will even help you digest your food better, reducing bloating and acid reflux.
If you take your walk with a loved one—your spouse or child, perhaps—you’ll also be spending invaluable time together. It’s a great way to engage in daily self-care and avoid stress eating.
Post-Dinner Walk Tips:
- Wait for a half-hour after eating before setting out
- Set your watch for 30 minutes
- Walk briskly
- Enjoy the journey
Get Active After Dinner
Plan activities for after your post-dinner walk that get you away from the TV or any other place where you have habitually been engaging in evening snacking. Here are five suggestions:
- Have a bubble bath
- Play a board game with your loved ones
- Read a book
- Do some online study (learn a new language, skill, or trade)
- Pull out the sewing machine and get creative
Get Your Calories in Earlier
Make sure that you are getting the proper nutrients earlier in the day. Plan to eat every three waking hours, starting with breakfast, then mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. If you don’t skip meals, you won’t get cravings as the evening progresses. Keep in mind that each of your three main meals should have roughly the same amount of calories.
Wind Back Your Dinner Time
Of course, we all have different situations and schedules. If humanly possible, though, try to send dinnertime forward, so you have at least two and a half hours of breathing space from the time you swallow that last morsel until the time you hit the sack. That will probably put your last meal between 5:30 and 6:30 pm–depending on when you go to bed.
Close Down the Kitchen
Create a CLOSED sign and place it on the kitchen counter after dinner. Turn off the lights and shut it down. Recruit your family members as your support system to avoid emotional eating. If they aren’t prepared to join in your no-eating-after-dinner habit (shame on them!), ask them nicely not to eat around you.
Choose Healthy Evening Snacks
Evening snacking usually consists of empty calories. However, there are such things as good evening snack options. It all comes down to being prepared. Even though you should try to avoid reaching for an evening snack, it’s important to know that, if you do, you’ve got options available that won’t blow your day of clean eating out of the water.
Some snacks that may appear to be health-smart choices on the surface, however, may, in fact, cause you to overeat. Nuts fall into this category. Almonds, however, are believed to induce a good night’s sleep. If you do choose them, stick with a modest handful.
Eating in the evening can be a pleasurable and healthy experience. But it can, all too easily, deteriorate into unhealthy binge eating. Follow our proven tips to keep your evenings binge-food free.