In as much as it may sound like it’s fun but binge eating has its own downfalls. Are you one of those people that “eat good all day” and then crave snacks after dinner and wind-up snacking on whatever you want? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Believe it or not, many people who are trying to diet or eat healthier fall into this routine.
The question is whether this habit is a result of something physiological or psychological? Unless your blood sugar is low, the odds are it is psychological and has become a habit.2
The habit of eating at night can be detrimental to blood sugar control and can even stand in the way of weight loss. Studies have shown that eating a majority of your calories late at night can prevent you from losing weight.3
Impact of Overeating Before Bed
Eating too much before bed can cause numerous problems, including:
Eating or drinking too much before bed can cause potential heartburn or bathroom visits, thus disrupting sleep. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can negatively impact blood sugars and result in elevated haemoglobin A1Cs.
Lack of sleep can also affect hormones, which regulate feelings of fullness and hunger. Insufficient sleep has been shown to decrease the satiety hormone, leptin, and increase the hunger hormone ghrelin.
If you are not getting adequate sleep, you may feel more hungry throughout the day and take in extra calories, thus causing weight gain.
Elevated Blood Sugars
Excess carbohydrates in the evening can result in elevated morning blood sugars.6 It is very difficult to regulate your blood sugar when you start off the day with it being above goal.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that fasting blood sugar (mornings) for most people with type 2 diabetes should range between 80-130mg/dL.7 If you are waking up with numbers above 130mg/dL, it may be helpful to reduce your carbohydrate intake at dinner and especially before bed.
Below are a some strategies to help avoid overeating before bed.
Eat Regular Meals
One of the best ways to prevent late night eating is to avoid skipping meals. Meal skipping can put you at risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) as well as increase the urge to overeat later on.8 Aim to eat three balanced meals and an afternoon snack daily. Add snacks in between meals if needed. This will help you to feel less hungry at night. Once you are eating less at night, you likely will feel more hungry throughout the day.
It is often hard to eat breakfast when your last meal or snack took place hours before rising. By reducing intake at night, you can wake up feeling hungry and ready to eat breakfast. Studies have shown that people who eat larger breakfast meals can reduce their weight and HgbA1c levels.9 Make it a goal to eat breakfast daily.
Remove Your Trigger Foods
Out of sight, out of mind, right? If there are certain foods you gravitate toward in the evening, don’t buy them. Try to limit your intake of what you already have in the house and then once you’ve finished it be sure to avoid purchasing again. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it. Restock your kitchen with healthy foods. If you need to have a small snack, you want have nutritious and satisfying options to choose from.
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Create New Habits
If every night when you sit down to watch television you find yourself in the kitchen rummaging through the cabinets to find a snack—stop watching television at night until you break your habit or try watching it in a different room. Picking a new location may help to prevent your desire and craving to eat. Aim to choose places as far from the kitchen as possible. You might even choose to brush your teeth and then watch tv to help curb cravings.
A great way to prevent late night eating is to do some light exercise after dinner—go for a walk or a bike ride while listening to music. You may also want to try some relaxing techniques—take a bath or do some yoga.10 Trying new activities, such as reading a magazine, journaling or calling a friend may help to reduce cravings.