Overcoming Late Night Binge Eating
The first step in solving the issue of evening cravings is to get to the source and identify the problem. This varies for each individual client and should really be dealt with on a case by case basis.
Some of the more common culprits are:
-It could be related to missing meals through the day or not getting enough calories in. In this case, you’ll need to figure out why are you missing meals and if you truly need more calories and/or carbs, where is the best place to put them.
-It could be emotionally driven and tied to an emotion that’s occupying the mind at the time (i.e. stress, anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness). In this case, it becomes an effort to reset the mind, refocus your thoughts and energy. Meditation, yoga and breathing techniques can help…or just about anything to shift you back into a happy, positive and balanced state.
-It could be related to boredom. Sitting around, watching tv, probably steps away from the fridge can be problematic for some. With these cases, find tasks to positively occupy your mind such as reading, working on a hobby, plan a future activity, walk the dog, or do some light cardio. A busy mind tends to stay out of trouble and the fridge.
-It could be related to poor sleep. People who don’t get enough sleep will tend to eat more and be prone to weight gain and obesity. Address your sleep issue and the diet will become a little easier to follow. Check out my blog post on the importance of sleep and some ideas to improve it: http://teamtrextraining.com/importance-sleep-prep/
-It could be related to an environmental cue – something in your physical world that triggers the brain to send a signal to eat. Being around certain people or places can do this. If you notice you are repeatedly binge eating after being exposed to or around a specific situation, do what you can to limit it, avoid it or be prepared for it.
-You could be thirsty. Before you eat, try drinking 500 ml of water with some lemon juice or other natural flavoring.
-Lastly, some individuals may actually have an underlying psychological issue that may require them to seek help from a professional. Binge eating disorder and night time eating syndrome are real things in the medical community and if all else fails, you may need to take it to this level to find a more permanent solution.
Here are 10 tips I’ve used with clients over the years to overcome the night time binge eating:
- Focus on protein and high fiber foods. Forget this myth about how you can’t eat after 6pm. Of course you can eat after 6pm! It just becomes important to focus on eating the right foods so you don’t end up triggering more hunger. Some ideas for high protein snacks with fiber content would be a sustained release protein shake w/ daily cleanse, chia pudding, keto style protein pancake, eggs on sprouted grain toast or low carb protein pudding. (Note if you train in the evening, there is nothing wrong with having carbs before bed)
- Graze throughout the day. Be sure to eat at regular intervals (every 3-4 hours) through the day to keep your blood sugar levels steady and prevent any peaks and crashes that can result in bad food choices. If you’re not use to eating this way, then start slow. Have a few bites of a meal every 3 hours. This will train your brain to start eating like this and away from the 2-3 bigger meals. People who graze through the day are less likely to overeat at night.
- Eat Protein at every meal. This will help to stabilize blood sugar levels and help keep you fuller, longer. When most of your meals are carb-heavy, this is highly related to cravings and bad food choices.
- Eliminate all junk food from your house. If it’s not in your house, you’re less likely to get in the car and drive somewhere to satisfy your craving. This is also why I suggest my clients go out to have their re-feed meals.
- Change your routine. Our bodies and brains operate on a routine and set rhythm. So if prior to the transformation, you tended to binge eat at night, chances are you will struggle with that now because it’s been somewhat programmed in you. For example, maybe instead of laying on the couch (when you would typically start thinking about food), do some stretching, foam rolling or have an Epson salt bath. Break the cycle by changing the routine could make all the difference.
- Treat hunger cravings simply as thoughts or messages. Don’t let them control you and dictate your actions. Embrace them and try to get to the root of the message. Is it truly hunger or is it something else (ie. An emotion or reaction to something). Every time you are able to overcome a hunger craving, it gets easier the next time.
- Using herbal teas. Licorice root tea is great for when you’re craving something sweet and it actually provides an anti-diabetic effect by reducing blood sugar levels. Peppermint and camomile are also great for the evening period.
- Load up on veggie snacks. Some ideas – cucumber, celery, radishes, bell peppers, snap peas and pickles. All are under about 25 calories per cup and safe.
- Keep your meal plan close and visible at all times. Out of sight, out of mind. Make sure you have your diet on your phone and maybe one copy printed out on your fridge to keep you honest and accountable.
- Write down your goals. Remind yourself why you’re doing this and the commitment you told me that you promised to make. Get a dry erase marker and write it on your bathroom mirror. Write it on your fridge. Put it on your phone background. Let it stalk you throughout your day until it becomes a lifestyle.