Roger Gould, M.D.  

Specialties: Mental Health, Wellness, emotional eating

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Night Eating

Apr 23, 2009 - 11 comments



emotional eating


night eating


Eating disorders


binge eating disorder


Weight Loss

Many people report that avoiding overeating, emotional eating or binging during the day isn't nearly as difficult as avoiding it at night. In fact, many people eat twice as much at night than they eat the whole day through. In order to understand night eating you'll need to look at what about the night makes you anxious.

Here are a few tips to unwind at night and avoid food:

1. Look into what the night represents for you. For most night eaters they have some anxiety about the evenings. It might be loneliness. It might be the time you miss a partner or your children. It might be fear of being home alone. It might be dread for the day ahead. You will have to take an inventory of the feelings that night brings up for you. Next to the list write responses of things that could address those feelings. And remember to be compassionate with yourself.

2. Don’t buy your favorite night eating food.

3. If you have anxiety about being able to fall asleep without eating at night you may have to develop a new routine. If you’ve found that food before bedtime make you sleepy. Basically, your mind has found a solution that works and it’s logical that you keep turning back to it. You have to show your mind that there is another option. Create a bedtime ritual for yourself to induce sleepiness.  A bath is a great option. 5-10 minutes in a bath can raise your temperature slightly and induce sleepiness. A cup of soothing tea, a lavender cream foot rub, a meditation CD.  It might be a few things. Play with it until you find what works for you.

4. Buy a hot water bottle and sleep with it against your belly.

5. Try finding some evening activities that you look forward to, a book, a rented movie, a craft or hobby, a visit with a friend. Many people want to relax and make the most of their time off, but don't know how to. Learn to find ways to enjoy your evenings.

Food never fulfills your real need. It just buys you another night of decreased anxiety. If you learn how to address your anxiety directly, you'll feel more satisfied and won't suffer the effects of overeating at night. For more information about night eating and emotional eating visit my website www.shrinkyourself.com

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by PrettyKitty1, Apr 24, 2009

Thanks for these tips. I don't quite understand one, though:  'Buy a hot water bottle and sleep with it against your belly'
What does hot water do to you?

by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank, Apr 24, 2009
It helps to redirect the focus from your active thoughts to your stomach. The warmth on your stomach is almost like the feeling of a full belly after eating. It calms your mind and helps you sleep.

by msbuck, Apr 25, 2009
I think these tips are interesting but for someone suffering from the disease of addiction they are pointless.

by msbuck, Apr 25, 2009

by nadasharon, Apr 25, 2009
I have been eating like a pig the last couple of months.My husband has lung cancer and its terminal.It seems like I turn to food for comfort.What can I do to stop what I am calling stress eating?

by uselessmate, Apr 25, 2009
My wife who is 40 eats at night and rarely during the day.  She is being treated for anxiety.  She has lost 60 lbs in a year and a half without trying.  She has frequent headaches, fainting, heavy fatigue.  She has seen numerous doctors who cannot explain her weight loss or other symptoms (other than anxiety and depression)  She is convinced something is physically wrong with her, but that no one will listen to her.  I am at a loss and feel totally useless.  Has anyone experienced the same symptoms?  What was the diagnosis?

by imalive79, Apr 25, 2009
I sleep eat.  How do I stop that.

by trishnhou, Apr 26, 2009
Thanks Doc!  That is exactly what my problem is.  I think for me it is like a reward I give myself.  I do so good during the day, then late in the evening when all is quiet and the noise of the day stops, I eat.  It feels good while I am eating but I know it is so wrong!  

by good21, Apr 26, 2009
i get severe pain in my right eye after having an intercourse and it lasts for one day. please advise a treatment

by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank, Apr 28, 2009
Thank you all for your comments about the night eating article. I agree that tips are somewhat helpful, but not the whole answer. In order to stop night eating, sleep eating, and stress eating you have to go through a real learning process during which you understand WHY you are using food as a form of self medication to soothe your mind. Once you discover that, then you have to learn better and healthier ways of soothing your own mind, which usually includes facing certain issues that are bothering you.  In other words, you have to do some good psychological growth work and end up a stronger person who no longer uses food as medication but can eat healthy and enjoy food without over eating.  That's a difficult process to do alone, so either therapy or overeaters annoymous or a web based 12 week program like shrinkyourself.com is what you will need to get there...It is well worth the effort to " cure" yourself, once and for all.

by confused303, May 18, 2011
im gonna sound crazy but here goes some days im so disgusted with food i dont go near it and than at night ill eat everything in sight and be disgusted with myself completely i jus had two children a yr ago gained 60 llbs and have lost nothing there father walked out on us & prior to that he would hit me and cheat one me  and im all alone finishing my nursing degree i have carpel tunnel in both hand wich kills me every day and night i feel like im having panic attacks but im afraid to take any meds somedays im so happy and other days i will just start crying for no reason and not want to get out of bed i dont know what to do or where to begin with my health problems i feel like i have so many and never time to go to the doctors and even if i did find the time what am i going to do drag two kids with me help!!!!!!!!!!!!!! what is wrong with me

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