As soon as I get home at night, the first thing on my mind is food. I immediately rush to the kitchen and act like I will never see food again in my life. I know I am not the only one who struggles with overeating at night, and would love to figure out why exactly it happens and how to end it. I know it has become a bad habit, and one that I have been trying to break for quite a few years now.
Sometimes I eat because of stress, other times out of boredom, or maybe I just had one too many glasses of wine and last all sense of control. I do believe that my nighttime eating has definitely improved if I were to compare it to a year ago. I have spent a lot of time figuring out why I do it and have tried everything under the books to overcome it.
Here are five things that have really helped me in the past year to quit overeating at night:
1. Keep trigger foods out of the house. I have learned which foods are too tempting for me and do not even consider buying them. I am well aware that if there is cereal around, I will eat the entire box. I love ice cream so if I want it, I need to buy a cup from the local shop instead of buying a half gallon and eating the entire container. The only food in my house is eggs and frozen vegetables. I never have any desire to binge on vegetables, and if I do, then great! Yes, this means I do not cook much but it is worth it to me to buy one meal for dinner on my way home instead of eating 5 meals at home.
2. Stay busy at night. One of the reasons I work out at night instead of before work is because I know I would probably just eat all night if I came right home. I get home from the gym around 9:00 PM so this is just enough time for dinner and that is it. If I do not plan on working out, I make plans with friends, blog, create new fitness playlists, or anything that does not involve my kitchen.
3. Journal. I personally do not like to count calories because I become obsessed with numbers, but I am in favor of writing down what I ate. I do take it one step further and send my food journal to a friend every night around 10:00 PM. Once I send my daily food to a friend, I do not want to eat again because having to send an email in the morning to tell her I ate more is the last thing I want to do.
4. Eat enough during the day. I used to only eat a bowl of oatmeal, a salad at work and maybe one small snack. I would exercise after work so there would be about six hours between lunch and dinner with few calories. You can only imagine why I would run in the house and eat everything in sight. I now make sure to eat a big enough lunch, and a healthy, nutritional snack before dinner. I always keep some almonds in my bag for after the gym so that I am not famished when I arrive home.
5. Think before you eat. I know that it is easy completely black out during a binge and forget about everything, but I really try to stop for a minute and think about the consequences. I think about how the food will give me pleasure for maybe five minutes. After those few minutes, the feeling of being stuffed and bloated all night is just not worth it.
I have heard several other tips to help with nighttime eating such as drinking tea, using whitening strips, going for a walk, reading a book, etc. I encourage you to try all of these tips until you find a solution that works for you. It is not easy to break a habit like this, and it will take some time. We all know food is delicious, but it should be savored and not abused. Enjoy your food one bite at a time, and treat your body with respect.