How to Stop Night Eating

By on January 4, 2013
How to stop night eating

How to stop night eatingIt’s a common scenario. You have been good all day. You’ve made good food choices and done your workouts. But night time hits, and suddenly you’re ravenous. It could be 9pm, or the middle of the night.  Either way, you just really want to dig into that carton of ice cream that’s been sitting in the freezer since your birthday three months ago. Your will power has been fantastic up to now, but sometimes that will power vanishes along with the sun.

Fortunately for you, this is not an uncommon condition-lots of people have it.

However, if you want to be healthy, It’s important that you learn to stop binge eating, particularly at night. With the wisdom of others who have been through this, you will certainly be able to achieve your goals.

Is this something you can stop?

Sometimes the root cause is something which you can learn to understand and prevent. It’s generally not as simple as “I’m hungry,” but often times, it can be resolved naturally. If this is something you can handle on your own, chances are that it’s going to be one of these three things. These critical questions can figure out the root of what’s causing you to eat at night:

  • Do I feel an emotion when I go to eat?
    • Often times, sadness and depression are the most common ones. Look out for times when you’ve been through a difficult ordeal and are trying to make yourself feel better. Nighttime often makes difficult situations feel even worse. If this continues to be a problem, you may need to seek professional help to get through this particular sticking point.
    • Am I eating because I am bored?
      • Look to the time when you want to eat. Were you watching TV, a common culprit of bored eating, or were you just pondering what should be done and then thought that raiding the fridge was a good option? Have a list of activities you enjoy doing as well as plans in place to deal with this before it strikes.
      • Have I had enough water today?
        • Thirst and dehydration are often misinterpreted as hunger. It strikes at night in particular because you are starting to pay attention. Drink a minimum of 64 ounces throughout the day and start every meal and snack with at least an eight ounce glass.

You may find that keeping a food journal is particularly beneficial in this matter. Write down the times that you eat and how you are feeling when you eat. If you fall into one of these three groups, then you can easily deal with night eating by recognizing the root and addressing it.

What If It’s More

However, not all night time or night binging is so easy to resolve as targeting the root symptom. American psychiatrist, Albert Stunkard, first diagnosed Night Eating Syndrome in 1955 and has continued to promote awareness of this issue. It’s a common issue for obese individuals who struggle with insomnia, and it is more complex than emotion based or thirst based eating according to Lyndel Costain.

The symptoms of this disorder are typically

  • Rarely ever feel hungry in the morning and may feel nauseated if you do eat
  • Only feeling hungry late at night and then have uncontrollable urges
  • Going to sleep but waking up unable to sleep unless you eat something

Frequently, individuals who struggle with this cannot actually resolve it on their own. In some cases, it is also linked with depression, but the most telling factor is the inability to eat in the morning. If this describes you, then you will likely need to seek a professional’s assistance to deal with the matter. It may not be as simple as just forcing yourself to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in reasonable portions. You may also require treatment to help your body reestablish a more normal eating pattern.

For Both Scenarios

The key to both situations, however, is to recognize that the condition is quite treatable, and there is no reason for you to feel ashamed. Instead, you need to recognize that something is pushing this behavior forward, and you need to take control of it.

Taking notes of your situation and what all you have done and the circumstances surrounding you are vital to your diagnosis and success. While Night Time Eating is not an officially recognized eating disorder, dieticians and physicians do understand that it can be quite challenging to deal with and so they need to understand everything that you are going through to prescribe an effective treatment. The same holds true for emotion based or some other need based eating.

Setting up a schedule for your meals will also help you. While you should not use this article in place of medical attention, you may be able to return to normal eating routines if you do not have a serious case of Night Eating. Start by clean and light breakfasts that have little to no sugar such as eggs. Then eat the rest of your calories throughout the day. At night, when you need something to eat stay away from rich and sugary foods and choose lighter foods like grilled chicken strips, green salads, and healthy fats.

It can’t be stressed how important it is to “get off” (and stay off) sugar, and foods that turn into sugar when consumed.  Sugar causes wild swings in our hormones, thus contributing to the inability to sleep without “dosing” at night.  This step alone is enough to help a large majority of people stop eating at night.



Lyndel Costain, “Night Eating Syndrome,” Weight Loss Resources, (2012).

Isabelle de Los Rios, “Five Foods You Should Never Eat,” Diet Solutions, (2012).


About JessicaBFry

Jessica B. Fry has had a passion for writing and health since she was a child. In college, she studied Writing and Pre-Law as a double major before she went on to Regent University to obtain her J.D. She now practices law and works as a freelance writer in rural Indiana where she enjoys being with beloved family, friends, and pets. In her spare time, she works on graphology, writes short stories, and practices knife throwing. She and her husband enjoy exploring Indiana and the surrounding states in their free time and hope to one day complete a trip through every single one.
%d bloggers like this: