Do You Struggle with Nighttime Snacking?

Do you struggle with nighttime snacking?

If yes, you’re not alone. 

Many people find themselves rummaging through their fridge or cupboards an hour or two after dinner in search of something to nosh on.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating at any time of day or night, it’s helpful to pause and check your intentions so you can ensure your needs are truly being met.

What Are You Really Hungry For?
We rarely snack at night because we’re physically hungry. If you are, by all means, eat whatever your body needs!

There are always exquisitely good reasons for eating. Although it may not seem like it, nighttime snacking is a way of taking care of ourselves. More often than not, we’re trying to nourish a psychological or emotional hunger.

Rather than chocolate, ice cream, cookies or chips (let’s face it, very few of us snack on an apple or carrots at 9 p.m.), here are some things we might really be hungry for:

  • Pleasure: Food, especially sweets, provides a quick hit of pleasure, something we crave when we don’t experience enough pleasure during our daytime hours (e.g., unfulfilling work).

  • Relief: Most of us move through our days pretty wound up. Eating offers a temporary respite from the stressors of our daily lives. Creamy foods, in particular, ease anxiety, which is one reason why ice cream is such a popular nighttime treat.

  • Grounding: Our busy lives can leave us feeling overextended and overwhelmed. The act of eating is very grounding; it's a way to center ourselves when we feel scattered.

  • Companionship: Although we’re more connected than ever before thanks to technology, many of us feel quite lonely. When loneliness creeps in at night, we can always rely on food to hang out with us and distract us from our uncomfortable feelings.

  • Energy: Because we operate in overdrive throughout our day, most of us are completely wiped out and depleted come nightfall. Food, especially sugar, is a fast and easy way to boost our energy.

  • Satisfaction: When we don’t get much satisfaction from our meals, perhaps because we’ve eliminated foods we enjoy, eat while multitasking, or rush through a meal, we will naturally seek more food later in an attempt to satisfy our taste buds.  

  • Me Time: Whether at work or home, many of us spend our days taking care of other people’s needs. Enjoying a nighttime snack, once everyone else is tucked in or logged off, is something special we do just for ourselves.

What Will Truly Meet Your Needs?
If you want to bring more mindfulness to your late-night noshing habits, understanding why you do what you do is the first step.

With compassion and curiosity, ask yourself:

What need am I trying to meet with this food?

Will this food truly meet this need?

If not, how might I better fulfill this need?

For example, say you reach for chocolate throughout the night because you’re pleasure deficient. How can you bring more pleasure into your life? Is it as small as reading a good book or taking a post-dinner walk with a pal or as big as changing careers? 

Or, perhaps you dive into a bag of chips because you feel overtaxed and burned out. How can you simplify your life? Can you hire a housecleaner, set work boundaries like not checking email after 6 p.m., or say “no” to others and opportunities more often? (Remember, saying “no” often means saying “yes” to yourself.)

Maybe you’ve identified that you’re seeking an energy boost, something to alleviate your depleted state. If this is the case, you’ll likely benefit more from hitting the hay than raiding the cookie jar.

Deprivation Backlash
If your day includes depriving yourself of what you really want to eat (e.g., ordering a light salad instead of a hearty sandwich) and/or restricting the amount and type of food you eat (e.g., counting calories, cutting carbs), your urge to snack all night is not due to a lack of willpower or discipline.

It’s a compensatory reaction; your body’s natural response to physical and psychological deprivation. The more you ignore your body’s needs and desires, the bigger the backlash and binge.

When you allow yourself to eat what and however much you want throughout your day, you’ll likely feel less compelled to snack the night away.

Please Keep in Mind…
It’s perfectly okay to eat when you’re not hungry, including for emotional reasons. Sometimes, a bowl of ice cream is exactly what you need.

5 Gifts to Give Yourself this Holiday Season

If you’re desiring a more peaceful, loving, trusting and relaxed relationship with food and your body, here are five gifts to consider giving yourself this holiday season.

1/ Wear Comfortable Clothing
You know those holiday party clothes in your closet that haven’t fit comfortably in years, if ever? Get rid of them. 

Instead, buy, borrow or rent an outfit that fits your here-and-now body—one that makes you feel fabulous instead of frustrated. 

2/ Smash Your Scale
It’s so easy to let the number on your scale define you, to dictate how you feel about yourself and determine how you go about your day.

By smashing your scale, you're reclaiming your power from a worthless piece of junk that’s completely incapable of measuring your innate worth and overall wellbeing.

Of course, you can donate your scale; however, it’s a lot more fun to smash it! Just be sure to wear safety goggles.

3/ Silence Your Food Grinch
Silence the Grinch (a.k.a. the Food Police) in your head that says you’re being bad and will have to pay for eating all the yummy holiday fare.

Unless you stole the food or harmed someone to get it, there is absolutely no reason to feel bad, guilty or ashamed about your food choices. Nor do you ever have to make up for your eating

(For more holiday Intuitive Eating tips, click here.)

4/ Take Timeouts
Despite all the delight the holidays bring, the season can be quite stressful. When you’re overwhelmed, it’s easy to become disconnected from your body and its needs. 

Strive to take regular timeouts for rejuvenating, centering self-care, whether it’s going for a walk, soaking in the tub, meditating by the fire, or getting lost in a book. 

You can also try my number-one holiday stress buster.

5/ Ditch Dieting
Resolve to not jump on the dieting bandwagon come January. And when I say dieting, I mean any plan or program with a bunch of rules and restrictions. 

Diets erode your ability to trust your body and your instincts, and negatively impact your physical and psychological wellbeing. Plus, they suck all the joy out of eating and living.

Beyond the Holidays
If you want to give yourself the gift of a more peaceful relationship with food and your body that lasts well beyond the holidays, consider my private coaching program and upcoming Intuitive Eating Workshop (early bird enrollment ends January 3!). 

What's Your Eating Personality?

What’s your eating personality?

Are you a Careful Planner, Unconscious Eater or Professional Dieter?  

Perhaps you’ve been all of these at some point. This isn’t unusual as your eating patterns can shift depending upon what’s going on in your life.

If you’d like to return to the Intuitive Eater you came into this world as, it’s helpful to understand what your predominant eating style is.

The Unconscious Eater
Let’s take a look at the Unconscious Eater. This eating style is rooted in a lack of attention, awareness and attunement, and can take many different forms. Following are three ways it has shown up in my life. 

1/ Refuse-Not Unconscious Eater
When I worked in the corporate world, I’d mindlessly eat whatever food came into the office whether it was pizza a sales rep brought for a lunchtime presentation, mini-chocolate bars from the candy jar, leftover cookies from an afternoon meeting, or bagels that had been sitting in the kitchen for eight hours.

While there’s nothing wrong with eating any of these foods, I rarely ate them because I was hungry or truly wanted them. Instead, I was vulnerable to their mere presence, not attuned to my body’s needs, and unable to refuse free food.

This behavior showed up outside the office as well, whether it was with party fare, holiday food gifts or grocery store samples.

2/ Distracted Unconscious Eater
I used to be embarrassed if anyone used my computer because of the crumb-covered keyboard and sticky keys. If this sounds like your computer, it’s a sure sign you’re a distracted diner, too.

A Distracted Unconscious Eater typically eats while multitasking whether it’s responding to emails, scrolling through social media, driving to work or texting with friends.

Perhaps you feel there’s no time to stop and just eat, or that it’s more productive to be doing another activity while eating, or that just eating is boring.

I’m definitely not saying you should never enjoy a movie while eating popcorn or takeout! However, if you regularly eat while distracted, you’re likely to derive less pleasure and satisfaction from your food and more likely to overeat.

3/ Waste-Not Unconscious Eater
I grew up in a Clean Your Plate Club and continue to struggle sometimes with this hardwired habit.

The fact that someone would actually choose to leave food on his or her plate or throw away perfectly good food can still astound me today despite all the work I’ve done with identifying my attunement disruptors.

If you’re a Waste-Not Unconscious Eater, you believe it’s better to finish something even if you’re full rather than toss it or save the last few bites. If you’re a parent or partner, you likely clean the remaining food off your children’s or partner’s plates, too.

The challenge with this eating personality is that you prioritize the value of food over your body, which can lead to chronic overconsumption and subsequent discomfort.

Understanding Your Eating Personality
There are other types of Unconscious Eaters, such as the Chaotic Unconscious Eater and the Emotional Unconscious Eater, that you might relate to more strongly.

Having a better understanding of your eating personality, whether it's an Unconscious Eater or Professional Dieter, can be very insightful and helpful as you work toward shedding the beliefs and behaviors that disconnect you from your body’s wisdom, cues and needs.


Source: These eating personalities were created by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, the originators of Intuitive Eating and authors of Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works.