When I first started coaching Cassy, she confided that the evening was when she self-soothed with food the most and consequently sabotaged her weight loss. She was frustrated because she would eat moderately all day and make healthy choices, but the moment the lights would buy modafinil go down, the TV came on and the kids were in bed, she couldn’t resist rewarding herself with her favourite snacks.
She is not the only one, overeating at night is a widespread and challenging hurdle to overcome. It is also largely emotional. Provided she had eaten a balanced dinner, this was not about physical hunger, it was more about trying to fulfil unmet needs by using food.
The first tip I recommended Cassy do is to brush her teeth after dinner and make plans for her evening. I suggested she sip on herbal teas after dinner, which aids digestion and prepares her for a good night’s sleep. If she really felt like it, she could make herself a skinny hot chocolate to enjoy once the kids were in bed.
On a deeper level, we worked at uncovering the feelings that were below the eating at night, by looking in to what the night represented for her personally. Turns out she had an unmet need for affection and felt underappreciated by her husband. Cassy told her husband directly that she needed more hugs and that a simple “thank-you for a lovely dinner” would make her feel more appreciated. Cassy felt like she was a slave to everyone’s needs, taking care of the kids, her husband and also holding down a busy job, so she used food at night to help take care of herself. This is totally understandable, but the food was not an effective way of taking care of her true needs.
I encouraged Cassy to make her evenings more fulfilling, by finding some genuinely interesting activities that she could look forward to. She started some simple crafting projects, which helped her relax, unwind and nurture her creative side. By changing her association of snacking in front of the TV, she was still able to be with her husband, watch TV and work on the project without the need to eat.
Some nights Cassy would rent a DVD and cosy up with her husband and enjoy the movie. On other nights, she would soak in a bath and then snuggle up in bed with an absorbing book. Knowing that she had appealing options other than eating, according to how she was feeling, really helped curb the need to eat at night. Cassy found she slept better and felt revived the next day when she didn’t overeat processed food at night.
I also advised Cassy not to keep potatoe chips, ice-cream and candy in the house. This didn’t mean she could never have them but by putting some space between her and the sugary, salty, fatty snacks really helped her avoid overeating them at night. My advice is to buy small individual servings only when you really crave them and eat them as part of your “two fist” meal.
Lastly, I encouraged Cassy to be a loving mother to herself. Although she sometimes still wanted to eat at night, she came to understand that she didn’t need to, so she had to prove to herself that she no longer needed to rely on food at night to feel rewarded, appreciated and loved. She now looks forward to her fulfilling evenings, especially knowing that she doesn’t feel anxious about overeating.