7 Simple Rules to Break A Night-Time Eating Habit

Irena Geller

Weight Loss Expert

Dec 31, 2023

Does it ever feel like you’re your own worst enemy when it comes to night time eating

There’s nothing more frustrating than eating healthy all day only to feel like night time eating sabotages your efforts.

The truth is that many women find themselves eating late at night, even when they are not hungry. Late night eating  is often tied to stress, anxiety  and overwhelm – it’s an emotional coping mechanism –  an emotional relief.  

This habit can cause you to consume more calories than you need, which can lead to other issues like weight gain and low self-esteem.

If you’re frustrated with your night time eating habit, there’s a good chance that changing your approach could change your results.

Is Willpower a Limited Resource? 

If only you had enough willpower or self-control to break that annoying night-time eating habit through, right?

Willpower is a limited resource and like a muscle can get fatigued from making so many decisions though out the day.

And here’s the real truth: when you are too emotional, you won’t make rational choices, even though you know what’s best for you.

We are driven more by our emotions and that’s why will power doesn’t work!

What Is Decision Fatigue?

Your brain has limited capacity to make “good” decisions when you are tired.  

Decision fatigue Is the idea that your willpower is finite, like a muscle that gets tired when you use it too much.  

Good decision making is not a trait of the person, it’s a state that fluctuates depending on the amount of times you used your will power to make decisions during the day and is further affected by physical fatigue. 

And if you are trying to make a decision while feeling hungry, angry, tired or bored (or some combination of more than one of the above) emotion will win 100% of the time and you will likely make a decision you may regret.

And There’s Your Hormones Too.

When you’re tired, your levels of ghrelin (your hunger hormone) – increases, while leptin – the satiety hormone– is lowered. 

This can leave you feeling hungry, even when you are not physically hungry. 

And the reason you are craving carbohydrates and sugar, when you are tired is because your body is looking for quick and simple energy sources to increase your energy levels. 

Carbohydrates also encourage the secretion of serotonin, the hormone that makes you feel better. 

I’m guessing that what you’d really like in the evening is to feel calm, happy and satisfied doing something else and to not feel the cravings or the urge to overeat.

Did I get that right? 

So, let’s look at some ways to help you break the cycle of your night eating habit. I’d like to give you some tips on doing things differently in a way that’s actually do-able.

#1-Identify the Cues.

It might help you to figure out what’s leading to the undesirable behaviour in the first place.

What’s going on at that time of the night for you?

  • You do this by firstly identifying the cues that trigger a behaviour you want to change, then reduce those cues.
  • Think about what you should be actively doing instead of focusing on the undesirable behaviour
  • For example, if you don’t buy snacks when you go grocery shopping, you won’t be able to eat them late at night.

#2-Create a Relevant Vision.

What may be useful is having a picture or a vision of the evening time considering the following:

  • What you want to be doing.
  • How you want to feel at this time of day.
  • And what your evening would look like without night eating.

Brain storm and visualize what a satisfying evening would look and feel like that doesn’t involve food.

A. Understand Your Why.

Consider why this is important to you. Connecting with your “why” gives you the overarching purpose and direction behind what you’re doing. 

For example:

  • What are some of the benefits it’s going to bring you? 
  • What else may change because of breaking this habit?

B. What sort of satisfying activities could you be doing?

For example:

  • Would you spend more quality time with your partner?
  • Maybe you could you call that friend that you have been meaning to call for ages?
  • Clean that draw that has been on your to do list for months.
  • Or simply give yourself permission to do nothing.

#3-Establish A Consistent Sleep Routine. 

  • Could not getting enough sleep be sabotaging your efforts?

I believe that the first step is to address the underlying cause of your tiredness and/or fatigue. 

For example, if you know that your tiredness is a result of not getting enough sleep, then address your sleep hygiene first. 

Here are some tips for good sleep routine: 

  • Try to go to bed and wake up at about the same times every day, even on weekends. 
  • Keep the bedroom dark and cool.
  • Avoid TV or computers for at least an hour before bed.

You will feel so much better after a good night’s sleep and by doing this a few nights in a row, you will break the “fatigue cravings” cycle. 

Getting good sleep is the best gift you can give yourself! 

#4-Plan Ahead.

 This eliminates the need to make spontaneous decisions which require willpower that you probably won’t have when you’re tired! 

Here are some helpful tips: 

  • Planning your meals and healthy snacks will reduce the chances that you will eat on impulse and make poor food choices.
  • Having a meal plan can also reduce any anxiety about what you should have when you arrive home.
  • Write down a plan considering upcoming challenges and plan for them by 
  • Reflecting on your past experiences, where you may have had success, in delaying and giving in to your “fatigue cravings” 
  • Brainstorm some delay tactics. 

For example: instead of running to buy and/or eat what you’re craving, write it down.   

#5-Break the Night Eating Cycle.

A. When you feel tired use self-compassion.

Here are some helpful tips: 

  • Free yourself of any tasks that need doing 
  • Give yourself permission to relax
  • And give yourself permission to go to bed, providing this is not in the middle of the day. 

B. Take a time-out.

Here are some helpful tips: 

  • Stop making decisions 
  • Stop being productive 
  • Stop engaging on all electronic devices 
  • Limit your interaction with people 

#6-Take Preventative Measures.

Taking preventative measures eliminates decision fatigue which you are probably faced with at night. 

Here are some helpful tips:  

  • If you feel stressed or fatigued when you get home, take a walk instead of eating or call a friend who will be empathetic.
  • Make all your food decisions in the morning when your willpower is strongest. 
  • Prepare and pack your food in containers or bags, so that you have healthy options when you feel tired.
  • You could prepare healthy snacks for work to eliminate afternoon “decision fatigue” 

#7-Practise Mindfulness.

A good way to counter the night time eating habit, is to  practice mindfulness. 

It is our ability to pause in such moments of vulnerability that can ultimately help us make the right choices. 

For example: 

  • In that moment when you’re feeling hungry, bored, edgy, tired, or anxious pause, for a second, and ask yourself, “What am I feeding?” 
  • Be present with it rather than pushing it away 
  • Maybe in that brief pause you’ll hear a voice that says, “I’m scared/lonely/anxious/overwhelmed,” 
  • Pause just a second more and ask: ”What does that emotion really need? 
  • Listen to the answer and your innate knowledge of what you need to feel better.  

This pause is where your POWER lies. 

The bottom line

Instead of eating at night, try to deal with stress and anxiety using relaxation techniques, gentle exercise, or stretching.

And remember the best investment you can make is to invest in yourself.

Now its over to you..

  • Which of these steps would be easiest for you to tackle right now?  

Please let me know in the comments below. 


By Irena Geller

Weight Loss Expert

Irena Geller is a Food & Mood Coach and author in the Health & Weight loss industry who helps busy women to put down their fork and pick up their life. She uses 3 proven key steps, helping busy women to eat well consistently, lose weight effortlessly, potentially adding years to their life so they can live those years to the fullest, looking amazing and feeling confident! You can contact Irena here: https://irenageller.com.au/



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