Why do you overeat at night?

mind Jan 16, 2018

Reasons why you overeat at night. ( It’s not your fault, don’t hate yourself eating the whole bag of potato chips!)

I hear so often that “I can’t stop eating a bag of potato chips, cookies, ice cream or whatever they are at night…..” I used to wonder why I wanted to eat a big bowl of Cheerios right around 10 PM. I ate clean all day, and I was feeling so good that I was doing what I planned to do. Then at night sometimes after dinner, I started to feel the urge that I needed to go to the kitchen and find something sweet, fatty and yummy. Of course, I was not hungry. Maybe little hunger whispering but nothing major. So over the years, I finally figured out why we get this urge want to eat at night and how to stop overeat at night.

Researchers show that willpower is not infinite. It wears out some point of the day. Your willpower is like a battery, it is full in the morning, and it slowly depletes by the end of the day. When you have to make important decisions or even if they are a bunch of little ones, they help depletes faster.  So by the end of the day, your brains have made a lot of decisions such as what to wear, what to eat for lunch, planning your presentation for tomorrow, what to eat for dinner and the list goes on. After dinner, you are sitting in front of TV, enjoying a glass of wine, your brain starts whispering, ” Umm, go get some cheese now, it tastes so good” Then you tell yourself, “ No, I was so good all day, I don’t want it tonight” Then your brain comes back and tells you,” come on! You had such a stressful day. Give yourself a break. YOU deserve it”. Now you are having a conversation with yourself.  The part of your brain which is called anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) which detects a mismatch between what you want to do and what you’re actually doing slows down when your brain is tired. Yes, it gets tired.

When your willpower muscle is strong, ACC can jump in and scream at you “ Stop it. You are not eating a donut, you’ve already eaten good breakfast.” Then you can snap out of it. But your willpower muscle is tired and weak, ACC is just whispering in your ears, and you can’t sometimes hear it. Then you said, “Forget it. Just tonight. I’ve been doing so good.” We’ve all done that. Another reason you tend to want to eat carbs at night is that it has a lot to do with your blood sugar level. Many people who are on a diet try to cut carbs completely. During a day, you eat veggies, lean protein, some fat like avocado, nuts. But at night, you are so tired, your body wants some sugar. It’s human biology. When your blood sugar level is low, your body knows exactly what to consume to power it up. Pasta, cookies, french fries….instant energy sources.

So here are steps to stop overeat at night.

1,  Remember your willpower is going to deplete by the end of the day. So plan what you are going to do when you have the urge to eat at night. You could instead of staying up late watching silly reality TV and eating potato chips, Go to bed early 1 hour or 2 and get up early.  Or eat a spoonful of almond butter or drink some tea. I personally make this amazing hot chocolate with powdered cacao ( high in magnesium -help to sleep, high in antioxidants- help to slow aging, taste so good, high in calcium and iron) Monkfruits sweeter ( natural 0 calories sweeter ) cinnamon, collagen powder ( Help your skin, hair and nails, joints and bones), almond milk and hot water. When I am feeling little hungry, I blend them all up and it fills me up and tastes so good too.

2, It is ok to eat carbs at night really. It doesn’t make you fatter if you eat them at night. Add some sweet potato, rice, quinoa and beans with a lot of veggies and good protein such as grass-fed beef, organic chicken and wild salmon for dinner. You just can’t try to white-knuckle into the no carb diet lifestyle. You will end up binge eat a bunch of crappy carbs. And you know it. 

3, Don’t use food to buffer your emotions. We all have ups and downs. Sometimes, life gets hard. But using food or alcohol to numb your pain is not much different than using a drug. You need to actually feel your emotions and let it sit and process it so eventually, it will go away. Eating and drinking will ease your pain, but they are just temporary solution. You are a mature adult. Overeating and drinking is the same as a child whining and crying because some kid said mean things to her and hurt her feeling so she cried. But for you, you eat and drink to make you feel better. So just to know, yes you are going to want to eat cookies when you are feeling sad or stress or whatever it is. But using food is not the solution. Find the cause of overeating and over drinking.

4, Every time you find yourself wanting to eat when you are not hungry at night pause for a second, breath and drink some warm water. And ask yourself” What should I do? Eat cookies or read a book, paint, go for a little walk?  Do this everyday and make it a habit. Eventually, you will create a whole new way of doing things right.

I have to say it’s not easy to stop overeating at night. Was it easy learning how to ride a bicycle? I don’t think so. For me, I had training wheels first, and when I was feeling comfortable, my dad took that away then I practiced over and over again. Then I finally could ride my pink bicycle! There was any other way if I wanted to see my friends who lived far from me and gave me freedom to go where ever I wanted to go. So remember, it is hard for a while. But I promise you if you keep practicing, you will be able to stop overeating at night.

Your assignment; if you have a habit of overeating and drinking at night, what are you planning to do when you get the urge to do? Let me know!

Thank you for watching. Hope to see you soon.

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