I am really good all day, then at bedtime, I suddenly have to have a snack, and end up eating everything in sight!

Sound familiar? Late night snacking and binge eating, also known as midnight hunger, is unfortunately a common problem! There is even a psychiatric term for it: “nighttime eating syndrome.” Studies point to stress, depression and hormonal imbalances as some of the possible causes.

But what can you do to stop the night-time snacking that sabotages your healthy intentions?

  • Sleep!- Sleep deprivation can lead to snacking and bingeing. Also, if you are sleeping you cannot be snacking!
  • Brush your teeth– after brushing and flossing you are less likely to want to snack again.
  • Distract yourself– when you start picturing that bowl of cereal or slice of toast with decadent spread; find something to keep you busy and distract you. Whether it is a chore, a hobby or exercise, make sure it keeps your mind and hands occupied.
  • Break associations– most night binging happens as part of a (bad) routine. Many people have a habit of eating when watching TV or web surfing– break it with new activities that keep your hands busy ie floss your teeth, knit, do stretches or better still, ride an exercise bicycle while you watch TV!
  • STOP!- Put a big Stop sign on your fridge and ask yourself: Am I really hungry, what do I really need- give yourself a 5-10 minute pause, drink some water and let the temptation pass.
  • Keep it out of the house– remove the junk and you will remove the temptation. If you do not have that sugar laden carbohydrate heavy cereal in your house, you cannot have it at midnight!
  • Put temptation out of reach– If you can’t bring yourself to throw out the junk food (although we really hope you can!), at least place it high up and out of reach. Hopefully, when you look for that nighttime snack, you’ll be so tired that you’ll go for the healthy food in the fridge instead of pulling out the step-ladder to reach a high shelf.
  • Understand why you’re snacking– Are you hungry? Emotional? Bored? Thirsty? Regardless of the reason, you should find a healthier alternative. Addressing any issues such as stress, depression and loneliness is also important.
  • Find other emotional outlets– If you suspect that you’re feeling emotional due to lack of sleep, catch some zzzz’s instead of binging. If you are stressed or sad, try calling a friend or talking with a loved one. Chances are, you will feel much better than if you tried to “medicate” with food.
  • Avoid caffeine– If caffeine keeps you up, avoid it in the late afternoon and evening. That way, you might be able to get to sleep at a decent hour instead of eating junk food in front of the TV.
  • Visualise the end-result if you stop yourself from having this particular night-time snack; imagine buying smaller sizes, feeling good for your holiday, having more energy.
  • Take positive steps now to stop NES!