Why Am I Hungrier After Dark...?

Do you get hungrier after dark?

Don’t we all at some time?? What is it at this time of year, that causes us to head for the kitchen as soon as the Sun has disappeared over the horizon??

A few weeks ago, I mentioned how brushing your teeth after your evening meal can help to prevent overeating or snacking at night. Since then, I’ve been bombarded with questions from people who can relate to this issue of eating after dark....

So, why is it that some of us seem to get hungrier after dark…?

Night-eating is a wide-spread, and difficult to pin-point component of emotional eating. For some people it starts as far back as infancy, so a quick tip such as ‘brushing your teeth’ isn’t always going to resolve it.

However, if you at least have an awareness that there is more to night-eating than simply ‘the urge to eat tasty snacks’ and you want to do something about it, that’s a start.

To explore your ‘after-dark’ eating further, I recommend the following things;

Emotional Roller-Coaster

Come On.. If this was your blog, wouldn't
you show a picture of a roller-coaster???
If ‘after-dark’ brings up a lot of feelings or emotions for you, look into what the night represents for you personally. For most night eaters, they have some anxiety about the evenings. It might be loneliness. It could be a fear of the dark. It might be a time they miss their spouse (if, for example, either of them work shifts) or wish they had a spouse. It might be a fear of being home alone. It might be dread for the day ahead… Actually write out a list of the feelings and emotions that the night brings up for you. Next to the list, write another list of some of things that could address those feelings and emotions directly (When we write actions down, they get processed by a different part of the brain that makes them far more likely to be carried out). It’s safe to acknowledge that, “Yes, food is one ‘indirect’ way of addressing those emotions”. So, what are the other ways that would work for you?

Keep Temptation At Bay

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a big believer of keeping temptation at bay whenever possible. If the night makes you crave certain things, just don't keep those foods in the house. Some might be willing to get up and drive to fulfil a craving, but putting some space between you and the chocolate/ice-cream/sweets/crisps, etc  can make a big difference. At least, it gives you some time to reflect and make another choice.

Create New Habits

If you associate your after-dark activities with snacking, think about what you can do to change those associations, until new habits are formed (it usually takes around two weeks to form a new habit). For example, many people link things like watching TV with eating. In this case, what would be something else you could do while you watch TV, that would help you develop a new association? This could be literally anything from filing your nails, texting on your phone, completing a word puzzle, ironing, moisturising your hands, stroking the dog or cat, doodling, etc, etc

Worried About Staying Awake?

Lots of people have anxiety about being able to fall asleep. If this is you, you might rely on an after-dark ‘feast’ to engineer your drowsiness. If this seems to have worked in the past, your mind becomes satisfied that it has found a solution that works. The key here, is to show your mind that there are other options. Look at creating an alternative bedtime ritual for yourself to induce sleepiness. A bath is a great option; 10 to 20 minutes in a bath can raise your temperature slightly and induce sleepiness. Or it might be a cup of soothing tea, a lavender cream foot rub, a meditation CD, reading a book in bed, etc. It might be a few things. Experiment with this until you find what works for you.

Find A Boredom-Busting Activity

People who are plagued by boredom or loneliness, tend to acknowledge this is the reason they eat at night. In other words, they already know what the answer is; it’s just a matter of making a commitment to yourself or even challenging yourself to do something about it. What long term activity can you do that will make those dark evenings more fulfilling?? Write a book, take up a new craft or hobby, start a blog, start a home study course, re-decorate the house room-by-room, etc, etc  

So, it really is NOT a coincidence that your stomach seems to know what time darkness descends, and once you’ve identified the link for yourself, you CAN challenge yourself to do something about it.

Go on then…

Shed some light on your own night-time cravings..!