I Was "Good" all Day and then Lost it at Night

Ever feel like you eat well all day only to lose control and eat everything in sight at night?

I have seen this play out hundreds of times in my life as well in the lives of many of my clients.

There are a few main situations that can lead to out of control nighttime eating. Today I want to share with you some of the top scenarios that I see and why they happen and what you can do about it.

Maybe you will see yourself in one of these scenarios or perhaps you will see yourself in a combo of them all.

1. The Restrictor:

Is this you? You have a strict eating plan. You are trying to keep to a certain calorie count, points number, and/or you are limiting a macronutrient group (most likely carbs or fats)

Why you lose it at night:

You have worked hard to stay on your meal plan, but you feel famished. Your physical hunger takes over, and you eat whatever you can and most likely you stuff it down very fast.

What to do about it:

Honor your hunger during the day. Eat more for breakfast and lunch. These are the best times to energize your body.

There will be some days you need more food than others. Pay attention to your body and be flexible with your eating plan.

Let go of the need to be so restrictive. As Geneen Roth says, “for every diet, there is an equal and opposite binge.”

When you put your diet plan ahead of your natural hunger you are setting yourself up for a nighttime binge. No diet plan knows more about your body than you do.

Make sure you are eating foods you enjoy. There is no point eating kale if you can’t stand it. Find real foods you enjoy and eat until you are satiated.

2. The Rewarder

Is this you? You worked so hard all day at being “good” with food and exercise that it’s time for a reward. It seems innocent at first but rewarding yourself with one cookie leads to 5 cookies, a bowl of ice cream, and two glasses of wine.

Why you lose it at night:

Beyond trying to eat well, your day is full of demands. You worked hard at your job, you shuttled your kids from activity to activity, and you dealt with many people who have drained your energy.

Think of a kid who keeps his cool all day at school only to lose it and have a temper tantrum at night. It’s hard to keep it together all day. Just like kids, we need some coping skills to help us in our times of meltdown.

What to do about it:

Honor your desire for a reward and find a non-food way to do it.

I have my clients create a personal nourishment list. This is a list of things that help you feel emotionally nourished.

Some great examples include taking a bubble bath, going for a walk, lighting a candle and writing or knitting, reading a book or magazine, taking a power nap, drinking some delicious herbal tea, or talking to a friend.

Make this list simple and easy. Of course it would be great to go on a vacation or get an hour massage, however, we need small, doable things for those moments we need a quick escape.

3. The “Eff It” Girl

Is this you? You ate well all day, and now you just want to eat whatever you want. Forget about this healthy eating stuff; you just want to grab a pizza, burger, fries and a Diet Coke.

Why you lose it at night:

You’ve been down this road many times. It feels too hard and you don’t trust that you have what it takes to reach your goals.

What to do about it:

Before you jump into the bag of chips or whatever food is “calling your name,” take a few breaths.

Close your eyes and imagine two versions of your future self; the one who decided to eat junk and the one who decided to nourish herself with healthy, real foods.

Pay attention to how each future self feels.

* How does the future self who decided to eat junk feel? Does she feel energized? Is her body digesting the food well? Does she feel happy with her choice?

* Next check in with the future self who ate healthy, real food. Does she feel energized? Is her body digesting the food well? Does she feel happy with her choice?

Now that you have a clearer picture of how each choice would affect you, make an empowered decision based on how you want to feel.

I love this quote from Gabrielle Bernstein, “when in doubt play it out.” This is exactly what this practice is all about.

Do you see yourself in any of these scenarios? The next time you find yourself stuffing down food at night, instead of setting yourself up for another food hangover, get curious about what is going on and see how you can help yourself make a better choice.