How to stop nighttime snacking is always a question I get from my clients. Curious enough no one ever comes to me and says they overeating in the morning and that they always overeat from the minute they wake up.
This fact in itself is a BIG clue as to why you overeat at night!
There are two little-known reasons why nighttime eating occurs that no one talks about. I'm sharing that with you in today's podcast and what to do about it!
A lot of coaches and programs tell people to simply stop the behavior of eating at night or to not bring the food in the house.
While those methods can work temporarily, they rarely work long-term as behavior change requires you to look at the whole picture. You have to look not only at your nutrition and how you fuel your body, but also your mindset.
I find in my nutrition practice that most women are not properly fueling their bodies and are very confused about proper nutrition.
They know what healthy foods are, but after years of dieting they don't know how to put foods together in a way that keeps them full and satisfied. They may also feel scared of eating certain foods for fear of gaining weight.
This is one of the worst ways diets have messed up women's relationships with food and their bodies. It's also why I keep preaching that everyone must divorce diets!
But not everything with your nighttime eating is about food and nutrition.
In my experience, the biggest part of nighttime snacking, drinking alcohol or overeating has to do with human psychology.
Behaviors with food are almost always linked to our beliefs system, self-talk and our fears. Without addressing those things you may never get to the root of what's really going no with your nighttime eating and fix what is truly causing it to occur.
This why simply having a food plan or knowing the number of calories to eat does not work long-term. Because you're not fixing the REAL problem!
In today's podcast episode, I'm sharing you the two little-known reasons for nighttime eating and what to do about it!
In this Dish on Ditching Diets Podcast Episode, You Will Hear:
- The 2 Most Common Reasons for Nighttime Snacking & Eating
- The Nutrition & Eating Cycle Sabotaging Most Women At Night
- How Different Foods Fill You Up
- The Common Mindset Issues Driving Women To Overeat At Night
- What To Do About Your Nighttime Snacking
Related Dish On Ditching Diets Podcast Episodes
- Hormonal Weight Loss Recipes - Episode 56
- I'm Barely Eating & Not Losing Weight - Episode 71
- Desiree's Transformation - Episode 73
- Restriction Guarantees Overeating - Podcast Episode 75
- Instagram Meal Comparison Video
Stop Nighttime Eating Podcast Show Notes
Hello Ladies! Today we’re talking about why you want to overeat at night. Women over 35 always tell me they’re “good” all day then at some point usually after 3 o’clock they start snacking and overeating. Megan, I’m always good earlier in the day. I can keep it together.
I don’t even feel that hungry. I don’t even snack that much, but then for some reason when night comes around, I just find myself eating. For some women it starts at 3pm, 4pm or they’re snacking while cooking dinner, taking extra bites of dinner before dinner starts, or they sit down after dinner and overeat.
What’s fascinating is no one ever tells me, Megan, I get up in the morning and eat my face off but at night I’m good. I’m so good at night! No one ever come to me and says THAT lol, but they always say this happens at night.
So, I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and there’s usually two things happening here. The first thing I want you to investigate is how are you fueling your body throughout the day?
One of the most common issues I’ve seen over and over again in my practice is women skipping meals, skipping breakfast, drinking coffee for breakfast. What are you eating for breakfast?
Are you eating sufficient protein and fiber for breakfast or are you eating something small like an English muffin or an 80-calorie yogurt that only has 10 grams of protein? What are you eating for lunch? Are you eating a tiny salad with one ounce of chicken?
I talked about this in episode 71 – I’m barely eating and not losing weight. Because a lot of women over 35 will tell me they’re barely eating and can’t lose weight then I’ll see their food journal and there’s very little food earlier in the day and a lot of overeating happening at night.
If you’re not eating real meals balanced with protein and fiber, you are going to be hungrier later in the day.
This cycle is one I see so many of my clients in and what happens is by the end of the day your body is starving for nutrients and fuel. You are setting yourself up for overeating when you do this.
You’re signaling to your body that you’re starving. So then later in the day rolls around and you want to eat all the food. That’s because you have not been fueling your body.
So, if you skip breakfast or have a tiny breakfast and then have a tiny lunch, like a super low-calorie breakfast and lunch and your breakfast has less than 20 grams of protein and your lunch doesn’t have at least 20 grams of protein plus fiber, produce and fat then you are going to be snackier later in the day.
Lack of protein, lack of balance and lack of sufficient calories will set you up to overeat later in the day.
And if you don’t know what a balanced meal should look like I explained this in episode 56 where I talked to you about what to look for in recipes and meals to ensure they have the right balance of macronutrients.
So if you need direction on balancing meals listen to that hormonal weight loss recipes episode.
I also think some women don’t understand how different foods fill you up. So, if you take a 300-calorie protein bar (which protein bars generally are fat bars, they don’t have very much protein in them) or you have a protein shake for breakfast those things are great in a pinch, but they should not be replacements for meals all the time.
They are not going to create the same level of fullness and satiety that a 300-calorie breakfast bake would have as an example. I shared this example in an Instagram video a few weeks ago. I’ll link the video for you in the show notes.
But the 300-calorie protein bar or protein shake compared to the 300-calorie well balanced meal that has protein and fiber in it is going to give you nutrients, better energy and make it so that you are less likely to overeat later in the day. The volume of food also makes a big difference.
So, investigate how you’re fueling your body earlier in the day and honestly, I think one of the worst ways diet culture has messed women up is that they literally don’t know what to eat anymore. A lot of women are used to having food rules. Diet rules.
I have to work a lot with my clients to help them unlearn this mindset. There are no more food rules. There’s guidelines. That’s how you create a balanced lifestyle with guidelines and then you make those guidelines your own.
I really believe years of chronic dieting has led to a lot of women to be fearful of food and confused about nutrition that now they under fuel their bodies and when you under fuel, you are likely to overeat. Then you end up in a binge and restrict cycle. You may not feel like that is what is happening because it may not be an all out binge, but that is the cycle most women are in.
They eat very little and then they overeat. They eat very little and they overeat. If the goal is to lose body fat, regulating your eating patterns and eating balanced meals at regular times throughout the day will help tremendously with preventing the overeating and you will have better energy too.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with a client obsessed about their late-night eating and as we work through the process of getting them fueling their bodies consistently earlier in the day, the late-night eating goes way down on its own or it goes away altogether.
We never have to address the late-night eating for some of them. So that’s the first thing to investigate.
The second thing is are you supervising your mindset and emotions. What are your emotional and stress triggers? If you don’t know you are doing it, then you need awareness first. Then you need ways to deal with those triggers.
So, I’m going to help you with this a bit today. I want you to consider what happens in your mind at this time of day. All day long you’re go, go, go then you sit down. You have no go, go, go anymore. Then you start thinking a lot of stinky thinking and then you want to go eat.
And it typically is because of one of two things. First thing is that you are really busy all day long. You are go, go, go. You are putting out fires all day long whether at home or at work, maybe you’re working, maybe you have kids at home to care for then you have all the dishes and laundry and bills and whatever else.
All day long stuff going on and while you’re doing all of that stuff you’re not saying to yourself OMG I just love helping my kids do their schoolwork at night.
OMG I just love doing the dishes. OMG I just love putting out fires. OMG there’s nothing better than reminding my husband to do the laundry.
Like if you were doing all that work all day long with a happy mindset, you would not have a problem eating at night. You would just go to bed and get up the next day content.
But what most of you are doing all day long is thinking I have to do this, I have to do this, I have to do this. People are relying on me, it’s all on me.
One of the comments I hear often is everything is on me. So, if all day long you are extremely busy and the reason why you are busy is because you feel like you have to and you keep telling yourself that you have to take on all the responsibility – then when all that is gone those two fears are left with you when you finally get to come up for air at night.
And if you don’t have enough energy to go busy yourself anymore, you’ll go eat to busy yourself from not having to think about all your have-to’s and that everything is on you.
This have-to mindset is a sentence every woman will say that sabotages you in life and I know this is a big problem for women because when I coach someone on this, they will argue with me on this. They’re like no, no, no I really do have to do this thing.
It’s not a matter of is this something you have to keep doing. I am not saying your kids have to starve and live on the streets. What I’m saying is you have to have a perspective shift.
So, the first thing is the I have to and everyone depends on me mindset. The second thing I notice a lot is if you do not have a good relationship with yourself it will lead to overeating at night. This happens real subtly throughout the day.
If you’re judging yourself subtly like if something goes wrong, I could have done that better, I should have said or done this, I bet they think I’m fat or stupid, I’m not a good mom, I’m such a bad mom for letting my child forget their lunch today, I’m not a good wife – I yelled at my husband this morning, I’m not doing well enough with this thing at work. I hate my work, if only I could retire now. I should’ve saved more money so I could have retired sooner.
I haven’t lost any weight. My clothes didn’t even fit this morning. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get my act together? Why did I eat that cookie so and so brought into the office today.
If all day long you’re judging yourself and subtly beating yourself up then this is why you’re overeating at night. You have a habit of judging yourself so when it gets quiet at night from all the busy, your brain lights up with all the judgement. That’s why you want to eat.
To escape the self-judgement. Food or alcohol will take your mind off the negative self-talk. The terrible conversation you’ve been having with yourself all day that boils over at night. At night when you’re eating or drinking alcohol, you are agreeing with the terrible conversation. You’re saying, yep that’s true so now I need to go eat or drink.
Food only solves one problem. Hunger. If hunger is not the problem, food is not the solution. So, is the solution eating food to take your mind off the negative conversation you’re having with yourself or is the real solution rebuilding the internal self-talk you’re having all day long?
Overeating is a signal that something is going on with your mindset. If you’re overeating at night, that is a signal there’s something off in your mindset during the day if you need to get away from yourself at night.
If you’re eating because of the extra responsibilities, you’re putting on yourself, like I have to help my child with their homework today.
I’m not saying you don’t need to do that what I’m saying is you don’t need to describe it in a way to yourself that makes you feel terrible. Instead of I have to help my child with their homework, I’m educating my child. Today we’re learning. Take the temperature down. Take the pressure off.
Women who are overeating at night are not monitoring the conversation internally they’re having with themselves about what they’re doing throughout the day. What you need to be saying to yourself is my eating is signaling a problem that I need to solve.
My eating itself is not the problem. The eating is a symptom of the relationship you have with yourself.
If you’re not sure what relationship you have or what you think of yourself, write down on a piece of paper your opinion of yourself. After you do that, then I want you to read what you wrote and ask yourself would I give this to someone else to read out loud to a group of people.
If your answer is no, then that means you have to start working on your opinion of yourself. The relationship you have with yourself.
You need to work on seeing more what’s right about you and appreciating what’s right about you then always seeing what’s wrong with you and what you didn’t do well enough. You need to work on figuring out when you’re throwing myself under the bus.
You need to work on when you’re talking to yourself like a jerk and questioning if you would be willing to talk to someone else the way you talk to yourself.
And don’t complain that it’s hard to do this. I hear that from clients sometimes. It’s so hard to change how I’m treating myself. I’ve been doing this for many years. Do you want to argue that it’s too hard? You’re feeling bad about yourself right now today and I’m telling you this is the solution and you’re complaining that it’s too hard?
It can’t be any harder to change the conversation with yourself than it is to act like a jerk to yourself all day. Is it harder? I mean if I’m going to do something hard, I’m at least going to choose the hard that will have a positive payoff in the end.
Choose your hard. You’re already dealing with hard. Which one do you want? The one with a positive payoff or the one that will keep you where you are?
If you want to change your nighttime eating, the work starts in the morning. Nighttime is not when you do the work. You being successful with saying no to food is dependent on the work you do from the time you get up until nighttime.
First thing in the morning you have to decide what you want to think about yourself for the day. You cannot just rely on your brain to tell you some fantastic things about yourself. Your brain has to be programmed by you.
Here's a good example that happens with a lot of my clients. If you get up in the morning and you put something on that does not fit your body and you let your brain decide what it means like oh see, you’re never gonna lose weight. See nothing fits. Nothing ever works.
If you let your brain roll with that program, you will be eating later in the day. Instead, take the temperature down. But I’m working on it. One day at a time. I am trying my best, I will get there at my own pace.
Also, if you’re a woman who is in the have-to camp. I think it’s very important for you to write down on a piece of paper what you have to do and why you have to do it. Because the truth is no one is holding a gun to your head saying you have to do these things or else.
No one is making you do anything. You are choosing to do those things. You could choose to be homeless and give your kids up. Many of you don’t think that is realistic, but hey, people do that all the time.
Change the conversation - I choose to parent my kids because I love them. I choose to be around my kids. It’s not I have to help my kids with their homework. It’s I’m educating my kids today. Take the temperature down. Clean up how you speak to yourself.
I can’t stress this enough. The tone and how you say things to yourself is very important. When you get up in the morning, whatever thinking you have about you is going to run on repeat in your mind all day.
It gets a lot of practice all day and if that thinking is negative and punitive when nighttime comes around you will look for relief from that. The eating you’re doing is just a symptom of the mismanaged thinking you have all day long about you and your life.
The other thing I want you to consider is this notion that it’s all on you. A lot of my clients claim they have to do everything and what I want you to think about are what other resources do you have in your life? Do you have friends? Do you have a family? Do you have a partner or husband? Can you ask those resources for help?
My client Desiree talked about this in podcast episode 73. She has 9 kids and one of the first things she told me was that she couldn’t go for a 10-minute walk because she had to watch the her youngest.
Eventually, she figured out she just had to be willing to ask the older kids to watch her youngest child and then she could go for a walk. She actually laughed about it because when you find a solution you realize how silly it was that you were creating your own problem by saying you’re the only one who can watch the youngest child.
I will also say some women are perfectionists to a fault. My Mom is this way. She won’t let anyone do the dishes to this day because they won’t be done to her expectation.
If that’s you, you’re creating you own problem. Who cares how the dishes get done as long as they get done? What I’m saying is maybe your expectations are unrealistic.
Ask yourself Where are all my unrealistic expectations happening throughout the day? What is it that I’m getting so worked up about all day long? What do I need to have a new perspective about during the day?
Because that will translate into not searching for relief with food and alcohol at night.
Remember I said, the drinking and late-night eating is a symptom. It’s not the real problem. And this is where many women go wrong. They just try to restrict more which like I said in episode 75 restriction always leads to overeating.
It’s not just a matter of willpower AND they will beat themselves up more, which as we discussed today doesn’t work either. It just leads to overeating to escape the negative self-talk. The overeating at night is really highlighted the relationship you have with yourself.
And I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. Do not expect to magically have a better relationship with yourself just because you lose weight. If you think you will like yourself better and take better care of yourself when you lose your weight, you are wrong.
I know this because if it were true, you would not have lost weight on a diet and then needed to go back to your old way of eating to get relief from yourself. You needed relief because you weren’t one – properly fueling and two – you weren’t managing your mindset and emotions throughout the day.
You were simply trying to distract yourself with food and remember food is not the real problem. Overeating at night is a symptom of your mindset, self-talk and emotions. If hunger isn’t the problem, food isn’t the solution. Okay ladies, hope today’s episode was helpful for you and I’ll talk to you soon.