Question : Even after a heavy evening meal, I end up craving a snack at night. I try to sleep to avoid eating, but I can’t actually sleep until I’ve eaten something. I feel sick and full in the morning so I mostly end up skipping breakfast. I have put on so much weight and this is making me feeling really low. It seems like a silly thing to tell someone, but I can’t seem to stop! Teentalker , 16-year-old
Midnight snacks are an essential part of growing up. But, when they start affecting you physically and mentally, it’s time to look at it closely. Some people are affected by a lesser known eating disorder called Night Eating Syndrome (NES). What you are experiencing may or may not be that. However, the way to deal with this is certainly similar. Here are a few active steps you can take:
• Assess the timeline of changes in your behaviour
• Track how much food and how many times you eat at night
• Develop a range of strategies you are comfortable with to deal with this.
First, take a piece of paper and jot down some days, months, weeks in which you think you started doing this more often. Maybe you were pulling all-nighters before exams? Or was there a stressful event that kept you awake at night? Often people eat as a way to stay awake if they have to work. Sometimes people eat at night because they are bored or restless, in which case it’s handy to think of what’s causing the restlessness. Sometimes you end up eating at night because you’ve started to diet during the day, but are hungry or dissatisfied during the night. In due course the body starts to take it for granted that it will get food and refuses to sleep! So identifying how it started will help you deal with the cause of it.
Second, try keeping a food diary. Just list what you ate, how much and when. This will surely help you understand the patterns in your intake. You will be able to link this with other events in your life, like feeling stressed, bored, anxious, angry or sad.
Finally, work on your physical and mental goals. This means that you need to
1. Eat right during the day
3. Eat an evening meal that is filling as well as light (this will help you sleep better).
Perhaps until you get yourself sorted, could you make sure you don’t stock any snacks that you would be tempted to eat at night? If you‘ve figured out that it is stress that makes you do this, maybe you could try relaxation techniques. Maybe you reward yourself with thoughts of an interesting breakfast, if you avoid eating at night.
Hope this helps, if you have any other query do connect online for chat between 11am-8pm or drop us an offline message.
Expert Teentalk India