If there is one thing I hear from nearly all my clients, it’s the following: “Why can’t I stop eating at night?!”
First, let’s get one thing straight: There is nothing wrong with snacking at night, especially if you’re hungry! Sometimes, our bodies just need food—and that’s totally okay. However, if late-night snacking is starting to have a negative impact on your life, then it’s natural to question what is fueling these habits. In addition, for many people with binge eating disorder and other disordered eating patterns, night snacking is a common theme.
So, let’s dive into the why’s behind late-night snacking—and how you can curb the habit if needed.
Possible reason #1: You’re just hungry.
One reason you might be snacking at night? You might just be hungry! If you’re not getting enough calories during the day, your body might be sounding the alarm at night, causing you to head for the kitchen. To resolve this, be sure to eat more food AND listen to your hunger cues throughout the day—not just when you’re settling down for the night.
Possible reason #2: You’re not eating balanced meals during the day.
If you’re not getting the right nutrients from meals during the day, your body might manifest that deficiency through hunger at night. Your body’s looking desperately for those nutrients, so what does it do? It makes you want to snack! To curb this issue, focus on what nutrients you can add to your meals throughout the day.
Possible reason #3: You’re not getting enough sleep.
Another likely culprit for late-night snacking is not getting enough sleep. Your body gets energy in two main ways: through food and sleep. So, if you’re not getting enough sleep, your body might try to compensate for this energy loss with food—with hunger happening at night when your body is running on empty. Be sure to prioritize restful sleep to resolve this.
Possible reason #4: You have unmet emotional needs.
It’s entirely possible that you could be looking to meet your emotional needs through food. This is especially likely if you eat more at night when you’re sad, anxious, etc… To overcome this, getting curious about what emotions are fueling your desire to eat and addressing them is essential.
Possible reason #5: You have unmet pleasure needs.
If food is the ONLY source of pleasure you’re getting in your life, the urge to eat can go into overdrive at night. Focus on implementing other sources of pleasure into your day— a hobby, exercise, time with a partner, or meditation.
Possible reason #6: You try to control your food intake all day.
Lastly, if you are focused all day on heavily controlling your food intake, your body may be exhausted by nighttime. In this scenario, it’s important to heal your relationship with food, letting yourself eat healthily throughout the day so your body doesn’t get desperate at night.
Remember, this is NOT an exhaustive list and does not replace the guidance of a doctor if you need it–but it is a great place to start if you’re looking to address late-night snacking.
For more information and for help finding food freedom, be sure to check out my services here!
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