Do you need to quit the late-night binges of chips, ice cream, or chocolate? These tips on how to stop stress eating late at night will help you get a handle on your midnight munchie compulsions.
Chewing sugarless gum works for me. Simply Gum – Assorted Natural Chewing Gum is all-natural gum made from just six ingredients. It doesn’t contain aspartame, plastic, or other synthetics that are found in conventional gum, concealed under the term “gum base.” Even more importantly, this gum comes in a variety of flavors: Mint, Cinnamon, Ginger, Fennel, Coffee, Maple.
I’m most tempted to binge eat late at night. I’m tired, my defenses are weak, and I just want to dip into a big bowl of chocolate-covered pretzels. But I always feel terrible the next day – not to mention exhausted because all that chocolate disrupted my sleep. Yet no matter how gross I felt the next morning, I couldn’t stop emotional eating at night. So I experimented and found the best ways to stop eating late at night, which I share below…
My tips are both practical (such as chewing gum as a way to stop stress eating late at night) and emotional (learning how to manage stress in more productive, healthy ways).
How to Stop Stress Eating Late at Night
Weight gain isn’t just about eating more calories than you burn off. Shift workers tend to be overweight because their schedules force them to eat at times that conflict with their natural body rhythms. So if you have a habit of eating late at night, you’re more likely to pack on the pounds.
Be aware of the effects of late night stress eating
Research from Northwestern University shows that eating at the wrong time of day might be contributing to weight gain. “How or why a person gains weight is very complicated,” said Fred Turek, a neurobiology professor of neurobiology and researcher. “We think some factors are under circadian control. Better timing of meals, which would require a change in behavior, could be a critical element in slowing the ever-increasing incidence of obesity.”
Is this an effective tip on how to stop stress eating late at night? Probably not, because it doesn’t help you deal with the root cause of the problem. We know lots of stuff intellectually (eg, eating unhealthy foods causes weight gain, not learning how to manage stress properly will eventually kill us, etc).
Figure out the root cause of your stress eating
The root cause of stress eating isn’t stress. You’ll always have stress in your life. Even when things are perfect, you’ll always have to deal with traffic jams, stubborn children, or disobedient bosses. Stress isn’t the problem. Stress is inevitable.
The problem is your response to stress. What makes me say you have a problem? You searched for “stress eating” and “eating late at night.” You want to know how to stop living with this obsession. Maybe you haven’t learned how to manage stress in healthy ways, or maybe you’re too sad or depressed to explore different types of coping strategies.
Do something else instead, such as chew gum
One of the most important tips on how to stop stress eating late at night is to give yourself something else to do. Don’t just take away your chocolate-covered pretzels!
Gum works for me because it occupies my mouth, has a yummy flavor, and doesn’t make me feel like I’m depriving myself or withholding something good.
Are you eating out of habit, or to avoid your feelings? In When You Never Feel Full and Can’t Stop Eating, I share several tips for dealing with the emotional issues of mindless eating. Those tips might help you learn how to stop stress eating late at night.
Find like-minded folk
I seem to have overcome my tendency towards emotional eating. It was actually worse than emotional eating; I struggled with bulimia for most of my life. What helped me heal with working in an addictions counseling recovery center for men. I learned a lot about how trauma affects the brain, why addictive behaviors develop, and how to cope with different types of addictions.
Don’t try to learn how to stop stress eating at night by yourself. Get help. Join a support group, get counseling, take stress management workshops, quit your job. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
Find your passion
My passion is blogging, but it wasn’t enough to stop my late-night eating binges. So why do I include it as a tip on how to stop stress eating? Because it takes TIME to move from behavior to behavior. You’ve been stress eating late at night for a long time, and simply discovering a new love for painting or playing the flute won’t “cure” you of your compulsion to eat.
So, don’t just find your passion. Nurture it, develop it, go further into it. Find others who share the same passion (for instance, I created an art group for women that meets twice monthly). Fan the flames of your love for that passion so it burns brighter than the stress you feel.
Ask. Surrender. Accept
How are you and God doing? Are you on speaking terms, or have you turned away (He would never turn away from you, so if you’re not speaking to God…it’s because you left Him).
Ask God how He sees you. Who are you to Him? How does He feel about you? Take time to connect with Him, because He is the only source of emotional and spiritual freedom. You’ll never learn how to stop stress eating at night without His guidance and love.
God makes life better. He doesn’t delete stress from your life, but He’ll never leave you to manage stress alone. Jesus is the best way to cope with stress. Ask for help, ask for healing, ask Jesus to come into your heart and refresh your soul. Surrender. Ask. Receive. Accept.
Try both practical and emotional ways to stop late-night stress eating
You are a holistic woman, which means just focusing on practical tips or emotional healing won’t stop the stress eating. Instead, you need to blend a bit of both into your life.
Practical tips on how to stop stress eating late at night:
- Chew sugarfree gum
- Make meals that take a long time to eat, such as a big bowl of salad
- Eat a big, bulky, light dinner late at night (if I’m done eating dinner at 7:30 pm, I won’t indulge in my chocolate-covered pretzels because I get ready for bed at 8 pm)
- Experiment with different ways to manage your stress
- Remember that it takes at least 30 days to set a new habit. Give yourself time
- Accept setbacks. Every day brings a new chance to learn how to stop stress eating late at night
- Keep the faith
If you struggle with your body image, read Body Confidence – 10 Ways to Love Your Body the Way It Is.
I welcome your thoughts on how to stop stress eating late at night. What are you stressed about, and where will you find freedom?
“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” – Jack Kerouac.
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