Are You a Night Eater or a Binge Eater?


night eating binge eatingIt’s 9 pm and once again, Jerri has found herself standing in front of the refrigerator, searching for something to satisfy. It’s a pattern she knows all too well. Just about every night, even when she eats a substantial dinner, she starts thinking about food halfway through the evening. And then the night eating starts…and doesn’t stop until she’s asleep. Even though she’s mystified as to why she does this every night, she resolves to not eat after 8 pm. 

So what do you think? Will Jerri’s strategy work for her?

It’s questionable because any time we fall into a regular pattern of overeating, the way out is to discover the root. What is the reason for the overeating? Then you can come up with more effective strategies to tackle the problem.

Questions To Ask Yourself About Eating At Night

Is It Physical Hunger?

When it comes to night eating, a primary question to ask yourself is whether you are eating enough during the day. Often that’s the real problem. We’re either caught up in work and ignore hunger until it comes knocking later when we’re relaxed.

Or we are worried about our weight so we cut back calories during the day and end up too hungry at night.

Sometimes it’s even a matter of medications that dull appetite cues, such as those for ADHD. But once the meds wear off, hunger pops up with a vengeance.

Is It Emotional Eating?

A study published earlier this year showed that binge eating is often mislabeled as night eating syndrome (NES).  While physical hunger can be at the root of NES for many people, it’s often not the case with emotional eating or binge eating disorder.

Emotional and Binge Eating Intensive Weekend – March 5-8, 2015
Don’t get me wrong. When we regularly overeat due to emotions, it is important that we feed ourselves well, so we don’t get too hungry which can be a set-up for overeating. But that’s only a support strategy. We’re not getting to the root of the problem for many who emotionally overeat on a regular basis.

What’s needed there is to uncover the feelings that are driving the overeating, and develop other ways to manage those feelings without using food.

Help for Binge Eating or Night Eating

These issues are part of our year-round program at Green Mountain at Fox Run. But we’re also offering a Emotional and Binge Eating Intensive weekend, March 5-8, designed to help break the emotional overeating cycle.

These 5 night eating strategies can also help you “in the heat of the moment” when you can’t think of anything else to do but eat. They can be effective in helping you step back to gain awareness of what you are feeling and give you time to make a different choice than eat. When you are more aware, you can make a better choice about what will really help.

Here’s to happy, healthy eating at night!

Do you eat at night?  Do you think that you’re a binge eater? Share your experience..

4 responses to “Are You a Night Eater or a Binge Eater?”

  1. cakespy says:

    I don’t eat at night, but I do eat what I deem “too many” calories during the day and then begin the next day hungry, thus keeping the cycle going. I feel very sad when I finish my last meal of the day, like “oh, it’s over”. This sounds like a really wonderful intensive weekend, even for those who don’t night eat–the same things go on in my mind!

  2. Marsha Hudnall says:

    Your experience is not an unusual one unfortunately, cakespy. If the issue isn’t physiological — that is, if we are feeding ourselves enough and getting the major nutrients important for our appetite regulatory system to work accurately — then there may be emotional issues going on that keep us eating in a way that doesn’t support us. This weekend intensive is one that is designed to help participants get to the root of that. Hope you can join us!

  3. AmberLynn Pappas says:

    My husband and I are both bad about ice cream after the kids go to bed. Sometimes I find myself eating it just because he is. I always catch myself and stop at that point, but it doesn’t mean I stopped before I dished it up and ate a few bites. When he’s not at home at night I don’t find myself eating after dinner. It’s funny how the people around you can influence your choices so easily through social facilitation.

  4. Marsha Hudnall says:

    So true about the impact of others, AmberLynn. That’s why mindfulness plays such an important role in eating well — paying attention to thoughts and feelings in the moment so we can make choices that are in our own best interest. As to the few bites, it’s great to know that perfection isn’t necessary! For me, the few bites are often just enough — helps me avoid feelings of deprivation and find out how much I really want.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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