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Reader Questions: How to Handle Eating at Night

Many clients who I see at the clinic will tell me that it’s easy to stay on target during the day, but from about 4pm onwards, things start to deteriorate.

For most people there are definitely more opportunities to eat at night than during the day, and sometimes this can get out of hand.

As with any aspect of your eating patterns, the details matter. When I am seeing a client at my clinic I want to figure out exactly what happens, when and why, before making a plan.

But here are some general points about night time eating:

1. Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul.

If you’re cutting back too much at mealtimes, you can end up hungry afterwards, and that predisposes you to want to snack.

(When you think about it, it’s cruel to make yourself hungry and then be cross at yourself for wanting to eat)

Yes, meals portions can often be cut down, but don’t cut them back so much that you are hungry afterwards.

2. Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul – Part 2

Eating 100 calories extra of food during the main meal will probably leave you quite satisfied.

But having 300 calories of snacks after the meal, might leave you still hungry.

In other words, eating so that you’re satisfied at dinner will probably take fewer calories than trying to chase satisfaction with snacks afterwards.

3. Dealing with emotions.

For a lot of people, night time is when they are more likely to be alone.

This leads to extra thinking or extra boredom that may then lead to extra eating.

Emotional eating is a HUGE topic, which I can’t do justice to in a single blog post, but the main point is that you need to deal with emotions in ways that don’t involve food.
This requires thought and planning but is worth doing because it can prevent a lot of unnecessary eating.

4. Restriction

This is a general point, but the more you say “I’m not allowed to have this”, the more you will feel cravings for it.

This is why a key part of my weight loss approach is that you’re allowed to eat whatever you want.

As soon as you’re allowed to eat whatever you want, and don’t feel guilty for it, a lot of the drive to consume large quantities mindlessly, goes away.

This often has to be experienced to be believed.

I’ve noticed many clients almost need my “permission” to be allowed to eat what they want, before they can try this, but once they do, it is very powerful.

5. It’s OK

I find that with many clients that night time eating is often mixed with heavy lashings of self-criticism.

It’s really important to understand that over-eating in the evening is not a crime or a moral failing. You’re not a bad person if you end up snacking on chocolate after dinner.

Stop beating yourself up and just focus on changing the behaviour.

To ask me a question that I will answer in upcoming newsletters, sign up to my free e-course and newsletter.

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