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Nighttime binge eating can be your greatest enemy when it comes to weight gain, because much of the food that you eat at night is converted into fat. When your body is getting ready for bed, your metabolism starts to slow down and your physical activity level drops. In general, your body doesn't need that many calories before you go to bed, and although a small healthy snack won't hurt you too much, binge eating on high carb food definitely will. Nighttime binge eating is even worse than eating junk food for breakfast because at least you have the entire day to work off some of the calories, so if you are in the habit of eating late at night, try some of these methods to stop nighttime binge eating.
Eating a large and healthy breakfast is one of the most important things that you can do to stop binge eating at night. We've discussed the health benefits of eating breakfast previously on this blog, and many studies continue to point to the health benefits of eating breakfast. Many people who binge eat at night neglect eating breakfast, and simply eating something in the morning can make a huge difference in your nighttime cravings. It's even better if you eat a meal that is rich with protein, healthy fat and healthy carbs as soon as you're hungry in the morning. Not everyone can cook a meal in the morning but that's no excuse, there are plenty of healthy options that don't take much effort to prepare like smoothies, hardboiled eggs, fruit, Greek yogurt and more.
Even if you eat breakfast you might neglect eating a healthy lunch, and that can be one of the biggest factors that leads to overeating at night. You might be the type of person who can through most of your day with a calorie deficit, but then trying to make up for that deficit in the evening is bad for your health. Don't rely on caffeine or tea to get through your day without eating, always try to keep some food with you like a protein bar, yogurt, nuts or fruit and snack on healthy foods. Also make sure that you eat a healthy lunch every day to avoid binging at dinner.
Be sure that you are getting a sufficient amount of protein, healthy carbs and fat in your dinner; one of the main reasons why you may be tempted to eat later on at night is because of a lack of good nutrition in your dinner. You need to have healthy protein with your dinner meal and don't try to eat too late or too soon before you sleep. Be sure to include healthy fats like coconut or olive oil in your dinner which can also stabilize your blood sugar and suppress your appetite before you sleep.
One mistake that people make is eating dinner too soon; this will leave you feeling hungry right before you need to sleep. Sometimes you can't perfectly time your dinner but you should try eating dinner about 4-5 hours before you go to bed; this will give you enough time to digest your dinner and burn most of the calories while keeping you full before you sleep. If you need to, even try moving it up to 3 hours before you go to bed, but whatever you do avoid eating right before you go to sleep. Most nutritionists recommend eating at around 6:00 to 6:30; your timing doesn't have to be perfect but don't eat dinner too soon if you struggle with late night eating.
Drinking plenty of water at lunch and dinner can help you digest your food efficiently and suppress your appetite. Drink water throughout the evening or decaffeinated tea to suppress your appetite as well. This method works for several people, as hunger can be related to dehydration and many people eat at night as a result of being dehydrated from a high sodium dinner. Try drinking about three or four glasses of water every evening, you might find that your appetites for food go away completely or substantially. And, throughout the day try to drink up to 8 glasses of water. In general, anytime you can replace water or unsweetened drinks for food it is a good thing and it can certainly help you avoid nighttime weight gain.
Stress can definitely lead to nighttime binge eating, and if you find yourself dealing with insomnia and some of the other negative health effects of stress then you should try different stress control techniques. Drinking chamomile tea late at night can help control stress and anxiety and suppress your appetite, and since it is decaffeinated it won't keep you up at night. Insomnia is also associated with weight gain, so try to deal with anything that is causing insomnia. You can also try other stress control methods like yoga, meditation and more, but reducing your stress any way that you can will help you with controlling your appetite and emotional eating.
As previously mentioned, staying awake at night is bad for your health in many ways, and there is a strong association with overeating and staying awake. Resetting your sleep schedule to normal can work wonders in helping you avoid nighttime eating, because you won't feel food cravings when you're asleep, and you won't need the energy from food to stay awake. Be sure that you are getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night, and ideally 8 or more. Everyone is different; some people simply don't need as much sleep as others but if you aren't sleeping enough but overeating, the chances are that you need more sleep. If you have insomnia talk to your doctor and try the treatments that are recommended to you, some options might include light therapy, melatonin, or stress control techniques.