Why do You Binge Eat at Night?
Do you have binge eating disorder? If so you do find that the majority of your food binges tend to happen in the evening? I know my clients usually think their absolute worst time for binges is between the hours of 8 pm and midnight. So why do you binge eat at night?
There are a number of reasons why this happens and no it has nothing specifically to do with the dark or some strange body rhythms. It has everything to do with emotions, boredom, loneliness and a whole lot more. Learning exactly what your triggers are is important because this can help you to change patterns of behaviour that are no longer helpful.
Night Eating Syndrome
I do first want to address that this post is specifically regarding binge eating at night and isn’t discussing night eating syndrome. There are differences between the two conditions which are important to note.
When a person has night eating syndrome there are certain characteristics that are slightly different from binge eating disorder. Firstly they are likely to eat more than 25% of their calories after their evening meal. They are also likely to suffer from insomnia waking in the night and using food in a mistaken belief that it will help them sleep again. You can read more about night eating syndrome in this article.
Binge eating disorder involves eating a significant amount of food in one sitting. This does not have to be specifically at night. It does not require an individual to have issues with insomnia for it to take place.
Binge Eating Dieting
Let’s take a look at one of the first reasons you may binge eat at night, dieting. One of the biggest causes of binge eating disorder is when you restrict your calories so that you are not getting enough to eat. So many binge eaters desperately think they need to lose weight and in order to achieve this aim, they start to cut back significantly on what they eat. This can have a huge impact on creating this eating disorder.
Think about it you resolve to go on a diet and start to find ways to eat significantly less. So you eat a tiny breakfast (if any) and try and survive on a small salad for lunch by the time you get home after work you are starving. You have restricted your calories all day and something has to give. You start to eat something to stop the hunger and before you know it you can’t stop. A part of you wants to eat every calorie in sight in case the restriction starts again.
After the binge eating, you feel awful and disgusted with yourself for not being able to control your eating. So you resolve to restart your diet again the following morning. The restriction starts again and the next evening the same thing happens. You have now entered into a binge eating and dieting cycle that you just can’t seem to stop.
The solution to resolving the need to binge eat at night, in this case, is so simple. Eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. So if you feel that you are hungry at breakfast time go on and eat something until you are satisfied. Then eat again the next time you feel physically hungry. This way you are never feeling deprived or feeling extremely hungry.
Binge Eating Stress
Stress is the next big problem that is linked to why you binge eat at night. Problems with food and stress are often linked. You may find that your chosen method of self-soothing yourself after a stressful day is by eating. Other people may shop, others drink or do exercise but your particular coping mechanism is to eat.
For the period of time that you are binge eating you stop thinking about everything that has happened and just eat. It is a way of shutting out emotions and getting away from everything. The only problem is that the strategy is flawed because once the binge is over the stress is still there.
To make matters worse the binge itself also creates stress so the problem starts to spiral out of control. When you stop binge eating your stress levels start to go through the roof as you worry about what you have done and why you have done it. You are self-critical of your behaviour and you feel a failure. The more stressed you feel about the binge the more likely you are to turn to another binge to stop the uncomfortable feelings.
The solution to managing the stress link to your binge eating is by finding better coping mechanisms to help you manage your stress levels. You can use our relaxation and stress reduction download to help.
Self-Hypnosis Binge Eating
One of the best ways of reducing the stress binge link is with self-hypnosis for binge eating. Self-hypnosis is a cheap and easy tool to help increase feelings of relaxation and calm. All my clients get a copy of a guided meditation for relaxation and anxiety reduction to practice with daily. With regular practice they find themselves feeling calmer and more in control. This makes a world of difference to their need to binge.
Want to try the Binge Eating Hypnosis download for yourself? Just head on over to my online shop by following the link to get your copy of my Stop Binge Eating Hypnosis audio.
Loneliness and your need to binge eat at night are also linked. This loneliness can be psychological as well as related to physical proximity. So why does loneliness make you binge eat at night?
Well, let’s start with physical loneliness. If you lead a busy life during the day working and interacting with others your mind is occupied and you have people to talk to. Now let’s imagine you come home to an empty house and you have to spend the evening by yourself. This can trigger feelings that nobody loves you or that you are not good enough to have a partner. When we feel anxious or depressed it triggers the need for comfort and so the eating begins.
This loneliness can also be felt when you do have a partner or others in the house as well. For example, your partner works shift patterns which means that although you have someone in your life you are often alone in the evening. If you have children to look after it can feel as if the burden is falling entirely on you to look after everyone. The food becomes a way of shutting those thoughts out.
You can even feel lonely when your partner is in the house at the same time. Many of my clients tell me of marriages where they are leading separate lives in the same house as their husband, wife or significant other. The partner occupies themselves in their office or watches TV in the bedroom whilst the other is left feeling miserable downstairs.
If you are feeling lonely at night then you need to identify the source of your loneliness and deal with it. If you don’t tackle the problem the eating will persist.
Negative Emotions and Binge Eating
Whilst we are on the subject of emotions any negative thoughts can start a binge including those caused by say anxiety and depression. When you are occupied during the day many of these thoughts are hidden away in the back of your mind. At night you come home and you may not have as much to do so your mind has more time to think.
Binge eating at night has a close link with anxiety and depression. When you suffer from anxiety you are listening to your subconscious mind worries and fears about something bad that could happen. Your ability to think inwardly will only increase when you have more time to do so which is generally in the evening. As the horrible feelings start to surface night time binge eating becomes a way of trying to suppress those feelings.
Likewise, depression can be created by thoughts such as fear of failure, not feeling good enough, being unloved and much more. During the day these thoughts are present but are well in the background of your mind but at night you have more time to think and so they come to the forefront. When you feel negative feelings you are more likely to need a coping mechanism to make yourself feel better. Binge eating is that tool for many.
Use our binge eating worksheets to start to understand how your emotions and food choices are often linked without you even being consciously aware. These worksheets are great tools to help you tackle the underlying problems and also to help you eat more mindfully.
Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
Binge eating disorder treatment aims to help you to identify the reasons for your problem with food so that problematic eating is eradicated. In my binge eating therapy course works by helping you change your relationship with food. There is no dieting on the program or good foods or bad foods.
Instead, I teach my clients intuitive eating and help them understand the difference between emotional cravings and physical ones. I look at my client’s lifestyles so that positive changes can be made to help you reduce your chances of binge eating. Plus I delve deep into the underlying emotions that are causing you a problem.
Binge eating therapy never just looks at the food but your entire life. Your sleep patterns, your relationships, your worries and fears to name just a few. It is a holistic approach because it needs to be. You can’t just focus on the eating because that is just the symptom but not the whole story.
Online Binge Eating Therapy
If you have a problem with Binge Eating then I run a five-session online therapy program that can help you. Sessions are usually held on Skype, Facetime, Facebook video messenger or Zoom. To get more information about my program or to book your sessions just fill out the form below.
Remember your need to binge eat at night can be helped and there are solutions to change your relationship with food. You just need to reach out and start the process of making positive change.
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