Authored by Alana J. Tutwiler in Nutrition
Published on 06-17-2009
You wake up in the middle of the night and find yourself heading for the kitchen for a late-night snack. Or maybe you sit in front of the television in the evenings and munch on whatever is convenient. Either way, night eating is not good. Consuming a lot of calories at night when your body’s metabolism has slowed down is an easy way to gain unwanted pounds. Night eating is also often comprised of high-calorie food with little nutritional value. So what can you do to stop night eating?
Eat Healthy All Day
The most important thing that people can do to treat night eating is to eat a good breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day and helps eliminate cravings later on. Another important tip is to get out of the mindset of eating three big meals a day. People who maintain an ideal weight generally do so by eating five or six smaller meals throughout the day. Starving yourself until the next meal will trigger cravings that will cause you to overeat and to choose unhealthy selections. Also, by eating more during the day, you will be consuming calories when your body is active and more able to burn them off.
Become More Active
Another treatment for night eating is to become more physically active. If you are in the habit of plopping down in front of the television after a hard day at work, then you are more likely to overeat at night. Your mind begins to associate watching television with eating. To eliminate this problem, cut the television off and engage in a physical activity like working out, going for a walk in the neighborhood, dancing to music or cleaning up. If you do decide to watch television, keep your hands busy by writing or drawing. Make it a habit to eat dinner at the table instead of in front of the television, and if you do have a snack while watching your favorite show, make it a piece of fruit or another healthy choice.
Deal with Your Emotions
Sometimes, night eating can be a sign of a deeper problem. If you are waking up at night because of anxiety or nightmares, or if the reason that you are sitting in front of the television is because you feel depressed, then you need to deal with these emotional issues. Stress and anxiety due to relationship issues, money problems, being out of work, or because of a mental disorder, can cause you to lose sleep at night. Some people use food as a source of relief when they are dealing with problems, hence the term “comfort foods”.
If you are stressed, exercising, writing in a journal, and talking things out with a trusted friend can help. If stress is the underlying cause of night eating, then you must deal with the problems in order to stop the night eating. In some cases, you may need to see a doctor or therapist. Getting treatment for night eating will go a long way to improving your physical and mental health.