Jacki Monaco is a Green Mountain alum who blogs about successfully overcoming binge eating disorder. Her story was featured recently on CNN.com.
Ever had this conversation with your fridge?
Dinner is over. It’s barely 7:00 PM. I’m not going to bed for at least another 5 hours. I can hear the faint hum of the refrigerator whispering to me from across my tiny apartment…
“Come get a snack!”
“Aren’t you lonely?”
“I’ve got leftovers… your leftovers, your boyfriend’s leftovers, your roommate’s Girl Scout cookies.”
“Let me fill you up and make you happy! Come and play!”
I respond with dignity and poise! (…Not.) “SHUT UP! Enough already. I know what you and your little edible friends are trying to do and it’s not going to work this time. I’m full, dammit. I don’t need anybody’s pity leftovers.”
Have you ever had this conversation with your fridge? Your cupboard? Yourself?
My Body vs. The Clock
To this day, I swear that food is sometimes plotting against me, especially when it comes to overeating at night. As I’m cooking up a beautiful plate model of broccoli, baked chicken, and quinoa, the whole kitchen is coming up with a master plan to do me in as soon as I take my last bite. I’ve succumbed many times before to eating at night.
I will not lie to you. I still have my struggles with “eating after dark.” I’m a snack-a-holic at heart and it’s HARD to coordinate the clock with your stomach and your current emotional state. The second hand never tics past loneliness, boredom and bad day – so we rely heavily on our stomachs and our emotions to help us figure out when it’s the “right” time to eat.
What can we do if we’re not sure if it’s that time?
Tips to Manage Nightime Eating Temptations
Green Mountain taught me to back away from temptation!
- Remove yourself.
- Go for a walk.
- Change rooms.
- Go for a drive.
- Call a friend.
- Put some space between yourself and food until you can determine if it’s hunger or something else.
Then, if your tummy is still grumbling after you’ve walked away, revisit the idea that you’re physically hungry and that it’s time for a snack. (Caution: make attempt to not bring whole bag or entire carton to couch.)
I’m sure you’ve heard someone important or knowledgeable in the health world spit out the phrase, “It’s not a swell idea to eat past 8:00 PM.” Well, when my wonky schedule demands a 10:00 AM wake up call, and a 2:00 AM bedtime, you tell me how that whole “not eating after 8:00 PM” thing is going to work out for me and my stomach… not well, my friends.
For digestive purposes, I do agree that a good two hours of foodlessness before bed is a decent general rule of thumb, but that time varies from person to person.
Nighttime Noshing…Where Do You Go From Here?
Food Fixes One Thing: Hunger
Every other emptiness that we try to fill with food, is begging to be filled by something else. The post-workday worries, lonely nights, or couch-induced snacking urges, come out at night to play when our defenses are down, our vulnerability is up, and the fridge is close by.
It’s about knowing ourselves: our metabolisms, our schedules, our cravings, our triggers, and about acknowledging our power and our strength. What do we enjoy doing aside from eating?
Stay In Tune With Your Physical Hunger Cues
If your schedule is hit or miss like mine, the clock can help guide us, but it’s truly key to stay in tune with our physical hunger cues. For some of us, scheduled meals and snacks might help us feel in control as we work on becoming a skilled intuitive eater. As always, our relationships with food, and how they affect us, are personal and individualized.
Be Proactive and Self-Caring
Staying active, making a plan, creating a goal, and cutting yourself some slack if you slip, are great ways to nurture the parts of you that need a little extra love.
Remember, Food Can’t Love Us Back
No matter how much we love food, food can’t love us back. A box of cookies cannot properly tuck me in at night like a blanket of self-love can lull me to sleep. (Trust me, I’ve tried both strategies, and the latter is far less messy).
Until next time,