"I do so well with eating during the day, but then I end up eating all night and can't seem to stop".
This is an issue I used to struggle with and a complaint I've heard hundreds of people make when it comes to their diet. Why do we end up binge eating in the evening despite our best efforts and success throughout the day? Eating at night can be a habit we've adopted, but it could also be the cause of other reasons. I've listed three reasons you might binge eat at night and what you can do about it.
1. Your definition of successful eating is skewed
You may think that you're "doing good" during the day, but your version of good could be all wrong. Many people think that they're doing well because they've been overly restrictive, but restricting your food intake will almost always lead to a binge or overeating later. Restricting food isn't a healthy practice and it's not doing you any favours if you struggle with binge eating. Your body needs a certain amount of calories and nutrients each day to run at an optimal level. If you restrict caloric intake or nutrient intake (or both), your body will start to run a deficit and you will become hungry. When it's late in the evening and you're daily tasks are done, it's harder for you to ignore how hungry and nutrient deficient you've been throughout the day and it will be virtually impossible for you not to overeat or binge.
The Solution: Make sure you eat nutrient dense foods consistently throughout the day. Don't skip breakfast and lunch thinking that you're doing yourself a favour by eating less calories- it's not about counting calories, it's about eating high quality foods that are loaded with nutrients. Oftentimes, it's these types of foods that are naturally low in calories anyway so there's usually no issue with weight gain (unless you're eating a pound of cashews everyday). Make sure you eat enough during the day so you don't go into the evening starving.
2. You're eating too much sugar
Sugar consumption is a huge factor when it comes to weight gain, disease and eating challenges. When we eat sugar, our blood sugar spikes. The more sugar we eat and the higher content of sugar the food we eat has in it, the higher our blood sugar will spike and the harder it will crash. When we get this dramatic rise and fall in blood sugar, we generally feel pretty terrible. We feel great when it rises and awful when it falls. When it falls and we lack energy, we then start to eat more sugar to get that same feeling again. If you start your day with a big glass of juice, or milk which has the sugar lactose, your blood sugar immediately surges. Pair that with a couple slices of toast with jam or a bowl of sugary cereal and you're in for a plummeting mid-morning. Most people usually skip lunch, have a light lunch or eat a carb heavy lunch which again dramatically impacts blood sugar and insulin levels. By mid-afternoon, our metabolism naturally dips which is when most people will reach for one of two things; caffeine or more sugar. Blood sugar spikes again and crashes leaving you absolutely ravenous when you get home. You may then have dinner which could be fairly nutrient dense, but because you've spent the day eating sugar instead of nutritious whole foods, your body is literally starving for nutrients even though it may be over fed. Sugar begets more sugar because of the hormones secreted when we eat sugar, and the rise and fall of our blood sugar sends us into a trajectory of even greater sugar consumption which tends to happen in the evening when we're tired and have nothing else to do but eat.
The Solution: Start your day with healthy fats and protein instead of carb heavy, sugary breakfasts. Make sure you're eating carbs that are high in fibre and fill up on low sugar fruits and veggies in between meals. DO NOT SKIP EATING FATS! Fats will help your body stay fuller longer and keep your blood sugar at bay so it's not spiking and crashing. The top three nutrients to strive for at every meal are protein, high quality fats and fibre.
3. You're tired or stressed (or both)
Binging in the evening can also be the result of hidden stress or the simple fact that you're tired and need to sleep. There are so many different reasons that stress happens, so you'll have to pinpoint what those exact causes are for you. You may be stressed about money, relationships, your health, your job. You could be lonely, bored, angry, resentful, lacking a spiritual connection or just generally unhappy with where you're at in life. All of these things can cause us to retreat into food. You could also be exhausted from working all day, taking care of kids, taking care of your house, running a business, always being on the go and not sleeping well. This can also cause you to turn to food for energy because food is such a quick and natural source of energy.
The Solution: First and foremost, make sure you elevate the importance of sleep. In order for your body to function at it's highest level, it needs adequate sleep that's deep and restful. If stress is your issue, try to navigate the areas of stress as best you can. Talk to people around you instead of keeping things bottled up, change the areas of your life that you're unhappy with and find purpose that will bring fulfillment into your life. Eliminate the things that are causing you the most stress if at all possible and create an environment of peace, contentment and joy. This is obviously easier said than done, but with constant engagement in managing your life, you can start to build a better life for yourself. Always ask yourself what you're using food for in the moments when you're eating under stress. If you're not really hungry but hiding from something, running away or numbing, ask yourself what you need other than food in that moment before you turn to food.
There are obviously many other reasons one would binge eat, especially in the evening, but I wanted to bring awareness to a few areas that so many people can relate to. The binge is a mindset, not a problem. Once you understand why you binge, you can change your behaviour for good or at least be aware why you're doing it. I also included a couple different recipes you can start your day off with that will keep your blood sugar stable so you feel satiated for longer throughout the day which could help you eat less in the evening.
Do you struggle with binge eating? What are some of your triggers and have you don'e anything that's helped your journey? I'd love to know in the comment section below!
Recipes to start your day off on the right track
Strawberry protein smoothie: 1 c strawberries, 2 mini cucumbers, 2 Tbsp chia, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (plant-based is best), 1/2 c water. Blend all ingredients and pour into bowl. Top with raw walnuts, pumpkin seeds and shredded coconut.
Egg and veggie scramble: 2 eggs, 1/2 c chopped red peppers, 5 cherry tomatoes, 1/4 c shredded zucchini, 1 cup packed spinach, other veggies of choice. Saute your veggies in avocado until just cooked (don't over cook). Add eggs and scramble in. Add chopped avocado on top for some extra healthy fats.
Thanks for reading, everyone. Have a great day and happy eating!
All my love,
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