When you think “hangover,” you probably think booze! Waking up with that famous pounding headache, stomach flips and vision that is no longer 20/20. Your hair even hurts.
While it does have some similarities, “The Food Hangover,” which results from bingeing or overeating at night, runs a bit of a different course. For me, it looks a little something like this:
- Throbbing in my temples (Dear Food Overdose…)
- Rocks of undigested food in my gut (Thank you, Not Listening to My Body…)
- Flu-like aches and pains all over my body (Flu season is…over?)
- Balloon-like bloating (Oh…so this what “full” feels like…)
- Hours of self-loathing (WHY did I eat that last piece…of…everything?)
- Massive, uncontainable, horrifying amounts of GUILT (There will be zero mirrors in my future today…)
Our Choices Surrounding Eating at Night
Have you ever traded a girls-night-out on the town for an edible-night-in on the couch? I have. No matter how much I blamed it on the weather, my clothes not cooperating, or a stuffy nose I imagined I had, I knew I was trading in my plans for a date with my one true love: food.
Even though “he” never stood me up, he always influenced me to have one too many, and I woke up with The Food Hangover: a tightly woven cocoon of guilt that trapped me for a few moments, a couple of hours, an entire day.
My food hangover from overeating at night held me hostage while I weighed my options:
- Continue to belittle myself for eating at night…again.
- Get up, shake it off, take an honest look at my eating behaviors, move my body, and ultimately…move on.
3 Self-Care Strategies After Eating At Night
1. Don’t Punish Yourself, Nourish Yourself
The best way I kick The Food Hangover is to start my new day with something nutritious. Now, you may be thinking, “Right…like I’m ever going to eat AGAIN let alone first thing this morning after last night’s food overdose.”
Well, you may have spent the majority of your evening feeding your emotions, but there is a good chance that your body is craving some nourishment.
Punishing yourself by not eating breakfast (and/or lunch) means that you could potentially be setting yourself up for another food hangover tomorrow. If you restrict during the day, it’s as if you are rolling out the red carpet for a binge at night.
2. Calm The Gut Guilt
Something I’m still trying to grasp the concept of is that I cannot, no matter how firmly I punish myself, turn back time. It happened. We are stuck with the aftermath of our decisions. It’s how we turn the aftermath into a new equation for next time that really counts.
If you choose option two (getting up and shaking it off) you can feel what your body needs you to feel, locate the reason for its discomfort, breathe it out, and (like we said above) move on.
No, it’s not quite this simple, but if we boil it down, food is far less complicated than we give it credit for. We are the ones who put the pudding on the pedestal. And we are the ones who can take it down.
3. Think “In Between” Not “All-Or-Nothing”
As an all-or-nothing thinker, my justification has always been, “Well, you’ve already ruined the day as far as food goes. You might as well finish out the night with a bang.”
I forget that I have the power to say, “Actually, today hasn’t been one of my finest eating days, but I am no longer hungry, and there is no need to fill myself further.”
In fact, just the other night I did a little tug o’ war with some chips in my kitchen. I had just come back from dinner and I knew I wasn’t hungry, but I was bored. I took a chip, and then I said, “No, thank you,” as I bagged the rest up and put them away. This was an awesome moment. One point Jace. Zero points boredom eating.
Winning these small victories makes me feel like Superwoman. I avoided a Food Hangover by evaluating my body and channeling my boredom elsewhere.
Each time I say, “No,” to unnecessary late-night temptations, I am saying, “Yes,” to ME and “Yes,” to tomorrow. Now, who wants to say, “Yes,” to tomorrow with me?
At Green Mountain at Fox Run we find many women who struggle with overeating also struggle with eating at night. To find out if our binge & emotional eating program is right for you, contact our Program Advisors for more information.