When people ask me how to stop snacking after dinner or before bed, they’re usually assuming the following:
- Eating at night is bad because your body won’t use the calories and they’ll be stored as fat.
- Night eating is caused by poor self-control.
- Special tricks can be used to overcome this problem.
These are all popular beliefs, but they are all completely untrue!
There is nothing inherently wrong or bad about eating at night. So if the only thing keeping you from enjoying night eating is your belief that it is somehow wrong, I’d say just let go of that belief and do what works for you.
If it does feel like a problem for some reason (like maybe you eat past the point of comfort, or you get indigestion, or you don’t sleep well afterwards), the next step is to find your “why.” What exactly is it that causes you to eat at night?
For most people it is simply that they undereat during the day. Unraveling the what’s and why’s of this behavior deserves a separate blog post, but if you’re eating at night due to hunger, you can generally assume that your body did not get the nutrition it needed during the day.
For some people it is emotional eating. I’m not talking about sobbing into a box of cookies (not exclusively, anyway). Emotional eating is simply eating in response to a feeling, whether pleasant or unpleasant, as a way of coping. If this is you, check out my emotional eating guide.
And of course, it could also be a mixture of under-eating and emotional eating. (Yay! Being human is fun!) If you suspect that might be the case, start by making sure you are getting enough to eat during the day, then work on developing better coping skills.
But seriously: If eating at night is not causing any observable problems, then you can safely assume that it is not a problem for you. Trust your body to tell you the truth.