How to Stop Late Night Binge-eating


David used to work third shift. While he was at work I would get down on some sugar.

Ice cream.

Ding Dong’s.

Dr. Pepper.

Then I’d pass out watching Nick at Nite.

Digression: Nick at Nite! Is that still a thing? TV has gotten so much better. So much more sophisticated.

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I usually managed to wake up and throw away all the evidence before he got home. I didn’t mind telling him about eating in front of bad TV but the idea of him actually seeing me passed out in front of the TV surrounded by empty cartons was too embarrassing.

I couldn’t break the spell of it. Could. Not. Get. A. Handle. On. It.

I resisted the idea that I was emotionally eating. Looking back now, it’s so obvious. I was really unhappy and lonely during that time. I spent a lot of energy trying to be really good and have my act together. Those late night threesomes between me, Nickelodeon and sugar were the only times I believed I could do what I wanted.

Binging rolls in waves. I did it hardcore for a while, then not for a while. Hardcore, then not. Hardcore, then not.

If you want to stop, keep doing it.

Instead of swearing you’re not going to binge tonight, accept that you probably will.

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You can be peaceful and happy even if you binge at night some times. It is not an either/or proposition.

And you don’t have to do it anymore.

But if you’re going to keep doing it, just do it.

Stop the beatings.

It feels bad enough to overeat crappy food. You don’t need your inner assault on top of it.

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When you start craving, gently ask yourself what’s going on. You can answer or not, but the gentle inquiry will break some of that binging spell.

Food is a magic carpet ride to your soul

Ultimately, if you use food as an access point to what’s really going on with you, you’ll get to the point where you don’t even want to binge. But until then, let yourself have it.

What we resist, persists.

Even though it seems like giving in to it will make it much worse, it is actually from a place of peace that things change. The more you fight it and beat yourself up, the more you’ll do it.

That’s the way the cookie crumbles. Or at least the way the empty ice cream container rolls off the couch after you pass out from your sugar crash.

When you want to overeat it’s a clear sign that something is off inside of you. But until then, let yourself have it.

Do you or have you done this late night binging thing? I opened up the comments so we can chat about it.


26 Responses to How to Stop Late Night Binge-eating

  1. Amy Saker March 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    I find myself binge eating a lot these days when I’m happy, when something is going my way, and when I want to congratulate or reward myself. I eat until I’m sick as a way to…what? Tamp down the feelings of self-worth and accomplishment? Reinforce my core belief that I suck? Self-destruct my success? To fill the space where I wish I had someone to share it with?

    • admin March 30, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

      Good questions Amy. I bet your answers to them will give you pretty good info. xo

  2. Maryna March 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    You surprised me, Sarah! I was expecting something telling me how to stop night time binging and instead, you pointed out that it’s more productive to not fight it, let go of judgements about it and start asking what’s going on. Beautiful…

    Though I’ve thought about this many, many, many times, you’ve introduced an angle that I hadn’t quite seen that way before. “If you want to stop it, keep doing it”. Brilliant! Thank You!!

    And I LOVE this line: “Food is a magic carpet ride to your soul”

    • admin March 30, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

      Maryna, Thank you! I’m so tired of fighting, ya know?

  3. Melanie March 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    I love this Sarah! And so true it is that ‘it’s from a place of peace that things change’. If only people could ‘get’ that!

    • admin March 30, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

      It’s counter intuitive, but never fails.

  4. Kim March 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    This is so true! I am an overeater for sure and find that I just need to have some good stuff around to eat that. My biggest problem now is getting back to MOVING MYSELF. Exercise, exercise, exercise. Love it, but got out of the habit. Where did that go?

    • admin March 30, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

      Great question, Kim. Where did it go? 🙂

  5. Lisa Bourdon March 30, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    Please pass the Ding Dongs.:) You’re right about the magic of “just doing it” and not beating yourself up about it during or after the binge. When I learned to “allow” my bingeing and not beat myself up for it, it was as if the heavens opened up. It was how I stopped sneaking food and gave myself permission to be seen, no matter what.
    Thanks for sharing this yummy insight Sarah!

    • admin March 30, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

      Permission to be seen! That’s part of the late night, food comes out at night thing, isn’t it? No one’s watching. Love that.

  6. Debi March 30, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Thank you Sarah for posting this. When I over eat I tend to feel like hiding and get angry with myself. Allowing sounds so peaceful. You were right on when you wrote about your binging time being the only time you felt you could do what you wanted. Bingo for me. It’s me breaking the rules and eating what and how much I want to. Which makes me question, why do I feel I have to hide doing what I want to do??

    • admin March 30, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

      Great question, Debi. Why do you feel like you have to hide doing what you want to do? Do you hide it from yourself also? xo

  7. Tom Sanders March 31, 2012 at 4:01 am #

    I convince myself that satisfying my hunger will help me get back to sleep.

    • admin March 31, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

      For you is it physical hunger, Tom? Also, does it work?

  8. Laura Wagner April 2, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Loved this and absolutely related to it — it helped me kindly put aside the Hershey’s Chocolate Drops I was eating when reading and remember why / how I got to the awesome place I am in my body and mind. That came about when my thoughts went from “What in the hell are you doing?!” to “Hmm…wonder what’s up that makes me think this is comfort?” As my three year old son says when he’s trying to be gentle (when petting an animal or creeping up some steps): “Easy-soft.” Thanks, Sarah.

    • admin April 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

      Easy-soft. Gentle.

      STEALING that. Love that, Laura!

  9. Tina Michel April 3, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    Thanks for this discussion, Sarah. So much of this rings true for me. Especially that change comes from a place of peace. And Acceptance. Reminds me of how Brene Brown talks about shame and vulnerability. If i’m in a “shame storm” over my bingeing, rather than just accepting that i’m doing it, i’m way more likely to keep doing it. Great food for thought. xo

    • admin April 5, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

      that’s so true. Brene Brown is such a smart cookie.

  10. incurable hippie April 4, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    I started sleepwalking about a year ago, and whenever I sleepwalk I eat a load of junk food in my sleep. I just wake up downstairs surrounded by food wrappers. It’s a really horrible experience every time it happens – I don’t suppose you have any advice about this?

    • admin April 5, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

      I actually got a semi-frantic phone call after I posted this about this exact issue. My hunch is that your inhibitions go down. That it’s the same kind of thing that happens in the evening. All day maybe you deny yourself what you really want and then you try to make up for it in the evening with food. Except you keep denying it to whatever extent in the evening and so you do it in your sleep.

      The longer term answer to any of this binge-eating stuff is to heal whatever it is that makes you want to overeat. We overeat not to feel. So when you get in touch with what you’re avoiding and when you deal with it in an emotionally grown up and healthy way, you don’t need to overeat. It becomes effortless.

  11. Alison May 5, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    the question i have is when does the subcouncious mind over power all my hard work and weeks of exercising only to binge on all my fiances chocolate treats when he is sleeping. i literally am fine at that moment consuming anything, and i rationlize it and ‘think’ i have total control. and why during these binges my stomach is an endless pit. normally stress makes me not hungry,and the stress of a wedding is ALOT of stress. ive been loosing wieght and am closer to my goal then ever before. i run at least 20 miles a week, i eat fruits and veggies daily. im starting to see results…which makes me think im scared to be thin and get the attention that involves being skinny and thin. bc ive always been a size 8-10 and dont know my mind has caught up to the idea of being thin.? is this possible?

    • Sarah January 22, 2013 at 3:59 am #

      Totally possible. You bet.

  12. Jason January 21, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    I feel pretty alone because I can’t find any resources that seem to be directed at, or at least, inclusive of men. But somehow that doesn’t seem to surprise me as all of the “emotional” issues I’ve been deeply exploring this last year or two all seem to have an audience of women. I guess I’m the lone wolf and I’m ok if the she-wolves will hold my hand.

    Anyway, late night eating is a real issue for me. It has been I think for a long time. But in the last year I started seriously studying nutrition. I’ve worked with two separate nutritionists, one for six months. I eat amazingly well during the day. My nutrition is very clean, balanced, wholesome. But after dinner,…something happens. Sometimes it’s minimal, sometimes it’s a bit larger. I don’t even keep any bad foods in the house anymore, but the pattern persists no matter what is/isn’t here. Last night it was frozen strawberries with stevia. The night before it was cereal with fruit. If peanut butter is in the house, it’s peanut butter. If it’s a ice cream or popsicle that’s what it is. But it’s something. I get that “munchy”. That werewolf comes out between 9 – 11pm and I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to fix this, eliminate it, or control it, but I can’t seem to do so. I realize it’s not about feeling hunger, but I don’t know what it IS about feeling? Boredom? Loneliness? (I live alone) Why is it minimal sometimes and not at others? It’s a huge mystery in my life and today it feels incredibly problematic.

    • Sarah January 22, 2013 at 4:03 am #

      It’s definitely true that most of the self help literature is directed to women. but it still applies to you. I work with men as well as women.

      Late night eating is directly proportional to how you handle stress during the day. Even if you do all the “right” things, you still need to deal with your emotional stuff. And it’s so subconscious that it doesn’t seem like it’s related. You don’t feel that bad, so why do you want to eat so much?

      If you take sweet care of your werewolf during the day it won’t need to unleash so much at night.

  13. stoney July 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    i cant stop late night binging, but only when im stoned …. any solutions?

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