Are you a nighttime eater? Me too.

by Andie Mitchell on January 6, 2013

snacking-3

Nighttime snacking is an activity that I receive many emails about. It would seem that we’re all desperate to stop ourselves from eating in the dark.

And from the way it’s written and spoken about in the mass media, I understand why many of us would view snacking at night as a problem. It’s painted as an addiction to overcome. It’s harmful; it will derail all your healthy efforts; you should stop it…immediately. And if you do decide to snack—keep it small, and–HEAVENS!! Don’t eat within two hours of going to sleep or all the calories consumed will go unburned and be stored as fat.

The warnings are everywhere.

I am a nighttime eater—always the one to find herself hungriest after dark, when everyone else is still full from supper. In truth, I’ve always felt a little odd for it. Friends and family know my voluminous eating; they make note of it, naturally, and I am painfully shy about the fact that I’m in the kitchen well after the light has been turned off.

I’ve been this way all of my life, in fatness and thinness.

It was only when I lost weight that I tried to fight against my nature.  Healthy, thin people don’t eat like this at night, I’d admonish. Normal people don’t want to eat a massive bowl of popcorn, frozen pineapple, and a Greek yogurt before bed. I was convinced that I was weird.

This slight sense of shame made me think I should stop. Many times, I did try to stop. I’d try my best to eat more in the daytime and then eschew eating after dinner. And never once did it feel natural. Never once did it feel right, mentally or physically to space my eating that way. Quickly, I noticed a pattern emerge: the nights when I tried to quit nighttime snacking were oddly the same ones that led me back to bingeing. In trying to avoid the healthy snacks I loved, I’d become so frustrated I’d say screw it and end up eating more than I would have in the first place.

So, I gave up fighting against it. I just snacked.

And I enjoyed myself. Eating at night was fun, comforting. A way to unwind. A ritual. As long as I worked the calories I consumed at night into my overall daily plan—as long as I wasn’t bingeing—the food I ate at night wasn’t harming my health. I chose foods—almost always healthy, low calorie/high volume ones—that took a long time to eat, and then ate them slowly. I’d watch television and snack for an hour on the couch with Daniel, my longtime love. And he could have assured you: It was my happy time.

I ate this way for years—all the ones after I lost weight except for 2012, when my life changed dramatically, and with it, my nighttime routine. Now, I prefer to read in bed for an hour at night, which mostly negates the TV snacking (even still, I’ll eat right before sleep). But for the years when I ate on my couch with Daniel in Philadelphia, Connecticut, and Seattle, the result wasn’t a change in weight; it was ultimately self-acceptance.

It’s a lesson that I could now stand to relearn in other areas of my life. When I’m fighting against my nature—trying to force myself to like certain routines, certain foods, etc—perhaps I just need to accept my inclinations and value the ways that they serve me. Perhaps my nighttime eating was and is different than others, yes, but maybe it has also kept me sane and healthy for seven years.   And maybe it won’t stay this way forever.

It makes me wonder, then, for all of my friends who’ve emailed me on this topic: As long as you’re not bingeing and struggling with emotional eating, and you’re being mindful of your overall health (whether you count calories or not), what if—instead of battling urges to snack at night—you simply reworked your day to allow for it? Perhaps you’d need to allot extra calories or points after dinner, but in turn, do you think you’d ultimately feel more sated, more at peace with your plan? Do you think it would help you to stick with your goals? Maybe the goal is not to eradicate our vices, our desires; the goal is to work with them.

What kind of freedom would be fostered if you weren’t fighting yourself? 

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Bailey @ Onederland or Bust! January 6, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I try to avoid night time eating only because it can easily lead to a binge for me. However, if I planned for it properly, I don’t mind having a snack before bed.. it is very comforting. My boyfriend is a big night time eater so it makes it difficult to resist at times.

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Millerette January 7, 2013 at 6:46 am

As a hugely emotional eater, I totally understand where you are coming from.

My work schedule is 6am-3pm, so my eating times are a little off. Most of the time, I drink coffee on my way into work (around 5:30am) and don’t eat breakfast until I take a break around 8. Because my work day is over so early, I tend to get hungry/in binge mode when I get home around 3:30pm. I graze eat. My family won’t eat dinner till at least 6/7pm, and although I try to be in bed at a set time, I seem to get hungry again about an hour or two before. I really try not to eat at that time though, because I DO have such a tendency to go through cabinets and search through the fridge. It’s easier for me to control if I just have a huge glass of ice water and go up to bed to watch stuff on my DVR instead of snacking.

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Laura January 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I have to have something sweet and something salty every day. If I don’t, it leads to a binge so I make sure that I leave a calorie deficit so I can have a handful of chips and a piece of chocolate.

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Kayte January 9, 2013 at 10:17 am

I’m the same way, when it comes to sweet. I need to have something sweet (mainly chocolate) every day. I have worked this in to my afternoon snack with either a chocolate granola bar that is high in fiber, chocolate covered raisins, or something of the like so I am still getting some nutritional value out of the sweet instead of just empty calories.

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Suzanne January 6, 2013 at 1:15 pm

It’s impossible for me to go to sleep if I’m hungry so if we eat dinner before 7 PM, a snack is inevitable. So even as I’m eating dinner, I’m planning my snack and how much dinner to not eat to accomodate whatever the snack will be. Have done this for years.

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Cinnamon Vogue January 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I have to admit this is a huge problem. For years and to this day I can’t go to sleep without having a cup of tea and two pieces of chocolate. It’s like a ritual. Sometimes it’s coffee and chocolates. For most people tea or coffee will keep them up at night. Not me. I sleep very well with a nice cup of tea.

But the fact is I am convinced snacking is bad. In fact eating just before sleep and snacking is the ultimate evil I think. Last year for 4 months I was going through hell, closing one of my businesses, starting another new one and managing a third. As a result I had to work very hard and could only manage an early morning breakfast at 6:00 AM, a good lunch time meal and a snack around 4:00 pm. By the time I got home at 7:30 all I did was take a shower and fall asleep. My Tea and Chocolate habits fell by the wayside. And guess what? I lost a lot of weight. Something I could not achieve with my crazy workouts at the gym.

So now what I do is exercise while watching TV. Nothing too heavy. Just squats, stretching and maybe some pushups. That way I get exhausted and fall asleep. But sometimes I overdo it, feel weak and then hunt for Chocolate and Tea. Damn it we got to live a little right?

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admin January 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I hear you and I respect your point of view. Snacking at night really isn’t for everyone. And I can see how, if you’re not mindful of some form measurement–counting calories or points or whatever–eating at night can mean the tacking on of hundreds of unnecessary calories everyday. That is not a behavior I’d advocate, though I’ve been there, and I completely get it.

I should amend this post to simply state: I suggest we embrace our individual ways of eating–the timing and spacing of meals, the amounts, whether or not we eat breakfast, etc–and not try too hard to fit any external standard of normalcy. I think we should play to our strengths rather than forever fighting our weaknesses.

Andie

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Sparks13 April 5, 2013 at 4:28 am

Some of us don’t have the option of ‘just not eating’. As a diet controlled diabetic I can’t go more than 4 hours without eating except for the 10 hours out of 24 that include my sleep period. You just have to make healthy choices, something few do. If you don’t exceed your caloric needs for the day, you aren’t going to gain weight no matter what time you eat. If it only took not eating at night to lose weight, we could eat all and whatever we liked until lunchtime and be good to go.

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britainknee January 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm

I too am a night eater – I don’t have a huge appetite in the morning, but I try to get something in my system early (coffee, yogurt, an apple; something small, but at least something to get me started). I snack small throughout the day, and typically eat a salad for lunch. I’ve found that this keeps me energized while I’m at work. If I were to eat heavy, big meals during the day, I would feel sluggish and less productive.

At night, I tend to use up the majority of my daily calorie allowance. I’ve found that as long as my nighttime eating does not make me exceed my typical calorie limit, I have not witnessed any weight gain. For a little while after I switched to a new birth control medicine, I noticed weight gain that I feared was caused by eating too late, but once I switched back, the weight came off, so eating late had nothing to do with it.

I’ve asked my nutritionist about warnings against eating more at night, and she said the warnings are mainly for people who binge or eat unhealthy things, as many tend to do when eating that late. She said as long as I’m eating healthy snacks and staying within a healthy calorie range, it’s fine, and the time of day shouldn’t be much of a factor.

Like you, I see it as a time to unwind, and treat myself at the end of the day. Until I experience anything negative as a cause of it, I’ll continue to keep it as part of my routine :-)

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Bridget January 6, 2013 at 4:18 pm

I loved this post because I am a night time snacker and this made me feel better about myself :) It also was a good reminder that I need to make healthier night choices if I am going to snack!

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Another Andie January 6, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Hi Andie,
I’ve been your reader for a while now, and I remember a fairly old post that mentioned that you pretty much always ate the bulk of your calories in the evening. I don’t know if you know how liberating it was to hear someone else say that. Especially someone else successful at weight loss. I’m a textbook night eater. In fact, whenever I tried to fight it and eat the bulk of my calories in the morning, I failed miserably and bounced back thicker than ever. I don’t want to say someone can’t lose weight by eating on a different schedule, just that changing eating habits is difficult on its own. Trying to fight your body at the same time just compounds the problem and makes it that much more difficult to succeed.
And to include some actual science (because I got cranky and did the research, after hearing the old wives tale for the 4837th time), there is absolutely no peer reviewed journal article claiming that carbohydrates are processed differently at night than they are during the day. Pretty promise. Or if an interwebs stranger has no credibility, try to do your own research – it all says the same thing: as long as your pancreas is the same and it’s spewing out the same insulin, you process carbs the same way 24/7! The only plausible connection that was ever scientifically verified is that not eating at night leads to weight loss because… hold the presses… you end up eating fewer calories overall, because you’re effectively eliminating a feeding period from your day.
And I think I’m ranting now, because I wish more people would accept their bodies and their own behavioural patterns. Becoming healthy is that much easier if you’re trying to do it the way it fits you, not the way it worked for your grandma, neighbour, old college roommate, and that third cousin twice removed. Just my $0.02.

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Another Andie January 6, 2013 at 4:39 pm

And I forgot to include, thank you for that old post. It meant the world :)

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Leah January 6, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Oh my, are you ever speaking to me!! I’ve always been a nighttime eater! I can be quite disciplined in the daytime but at night, it’s anyone’s game! And I, like you, have found that as long as I’m mindful about what I eat and how much of it I eat, it’s not a bad thing. I obsess if I don’t give in, so it’s best to satisfy the hunger/craving in a small or healthy portion and move on with my night and focus on the important things like reading a good book, my husband or the newest episode of Downton Abbey!

Thank you for bringing this topic up!!

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Sylinda January 6, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Love this. I am a huge night time eater, even a midnight snacker. and I agree, it is shameful, but the concept of embracing this tendency and working with it, is much more healthy and in the long run will help me with my goals.

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Kate January 6, 2013 at 6:58 pm

You are the best. I love your reminders to just OWN who you are. I am a night eater – always have been, and while it has potential to be a slippery slope to over-eating for me, when I just listen to my body I don’t feel guilty or shameful about it. And that in itself prevents a binge. Amazing how our bodies really do know what’s best for us if we just pay attention.

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Elizabeth Ann January 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Good advice. Thank you for posting this!

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Brooke January 7, 2013 at 12:35 am

“Normal people don’t want to eat a massive bowl of popcorn, frozen pineapple, and a Greek yogurt before bed.” — umm, YES PLEASE! I’ll have all of that right now at 2:30am!

I, too, am a nighttime snacker, but unlike some others, I don’t see it as a problem so long as I’m mindful of what I’m eating and how much. Now I’m not saying I won’t turn up a potato chip bag and happily smirk as I crunch the last crumbs in some kind of “I’m so bad for this and I LOVE it” way, but I generally try to restrain myself and have a small bite of meat, cheese, or fruit if the cravings hit. Clear broth soups are a favorite go-to snack for me as well, regardless of what time it is (soup for breakfast? —absolutely!).

I think you’re spot on in suggesting we work with our vices rather than against them. Don’t try to fight what your body, brain, or heart is telling you. Happiness comes from within, and if having two pieces of chocolate and a cup of tea before bed is the equivalent of happiness, then how can that ever be wrong?

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Susan January 7, 2013 at 2:52 am

I’ve never understood the problem with eating in the evenings. To me it’s the same as putting petrol in a car – when you put it in doesn’t make one bit of difference. It’s what and how much which determines how well and how far your car will run.
I very rarely eat before 2pm but it’s when I get home from work and start preparing dinner that I’m really hungry so I make sure I have good stuff available for me to nibble on.
Saying that one shouldn’t eat ‘at this time’ and ‘at that time’ is just ridiculous as people are so different.

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Natasha January 7, 2013 at 5:11 am

Happy New Year Andie – Always a good topic, and one that I struggled with for a long, long time.
A friend of mine who is a brilliant Chemical/Scientific Eng. (and who is my health Guru)broke it down for me before this Christmas – your body needs to rest – basically being in a “fasted state” for 10 – 12 hours (that would be sleeping and not eating before bed) in order to reset hormones, increase REM, and enourage overall health…that is the cliff notes version – my convo was much longer. Anyway – I’m almost to my comfortable place by taking his advice, sleep better, and have set up “other” rituals if you will – a nice hot bath, and a glass of cooling water 3 hours before bed – or a cup of herbal tea or a homemade hot chocolate to sip while reading…

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Olivia January 7, 2013 at 5:36 am

Honestly, I could have written this post word for word. I’ve always been a natural nighttime snacker and have felt ashamed about this for so long. Luckily, I’ve come to terms that this is what my body wants and have made peace with it, but I’m so happy you’re letting all those other nighttime snackers out there know that it’s okay to have the late night munchies!! :)

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Jamie January 7, 2013 at 6:06 am

Both my husband and I are big night time eaters. My son and I are huge snackers….if we lived alone together we’d probably never eat a full meal and just have small snack size servings all day long.

After our dinner, I usually make a pot of coffee and we enjoy our coffee with a small snack. It’s a ritual, it’s a source of comfort, and we all bond and discuss our days over the coffee and snack. Lately those snacks have been cookies which have NOT been worked into the daily meal plan, but we’ve also just endured the unexpected loss of an uncle followed by a grandparent a week later. So, we’ve had tons of family time which brought about the unhealthy foods.

Since our night time eating is done a few hours before bed, we are still going to bed feeling satisfied, but we are not doing so immediately after eating. I don’t really feel like it’s affecting our sleep in any way.

Until recently, I would work my evening coffee and snacks into my daily plan. And, quite honestly for a long while my evening routine was a coffee after dinner and about an hour or two later I’d have a protein shake while my hubby snacked on some sort of sweets. We were both happy, and because my “snack” was a large dose of protein without any guilt needed, I never really thought twice about it.

I am probably lucky to not have those feelings of shame or abnormality associated with my night time eating. I also don’t feel any need to fight it or to change it. I don’t sleep well if I go to bed hungry and I believe that we should listen to our bodies. If you are hungry, eat. There’s a reason that your belly is growling at you. Try a drink of water to be sure it’s hunger and not just thirst, then have a healthy snack without the side of guilt. :)

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Lisa January 7, 2013 at 7:29 am

Hi Andie- My toughest times are 3-7 PM. Once 7:00 PM rolls around I have an automatic stop in my head…not sure where it came from, maybe my parents?? But even when I am being vigilant during the day, once 3:00 PM hits I STRUGGLE! Sweet, salt all of it sounds good. I am trying to keep bags of cleaned and cut veggies ready to munch in the frig and my new idea is an apple and a big glass of water. To me it’s all behavior modification and how much we want the change, but it is still so hard! I know what I need to do but sometimes what I want is a stronger urge. If I can I make healthier choices..balance, balance balance…why is it so hard?

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Cassie January 7, 2013 at 10:32 am

I once babysat for a woman, whose figure I admired, who told me she could never fall asleep without eating something beforehand. 9 times out of 10, I’m the same way, and just like you said, as long as it is balanced and not a binge, I’ll skip the common “knowledge,” that eating before bedtime makes you fat.

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Rocio January 7, 2013 at 10:39 am

Hi Andie, I’ve tried following your blog on bloglovin but the updates of new posts don’t appear :(

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Christina C January 7, 2013 at 11:09 am

I’ve lost 60 lbs and have maintained the weight at about 6 months now. I tried so hard to not snack at night b/c the majority of my bingeing happened at that time. I also struggled with this. When I looked at what I was doing, it was the bingeing I needed to control and why I wanted to eat that I needed to look at. I know to acknowledge if I’m eating when I’m not hungry b/c I need comfort, bored, etc. Part of the night snacking is comfort. I like popcorn or I like a small square of chocolate. I found rather to say I can never do something, it’s better to see what I enjoy and allot for that which is what I do.

Everyone is different and how our bodies handle foods are different. People need to find what works for them as long as they are being mentally and physically healthy. My ongoing and lifetime goal is to not look at food as my enemy or friend. It’s food, it tastes good, I eat when I need to. I want to end that unhealthy relationship I had with food my entire life and just let it be what it’s supposed to be.

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Ally January 7, 2013 at 11:14 am

I actually had a doctor tell me to eat a small snack before bed b/c of insomnia. I was often going to bed with my stomach growling and subsequently not being able to fall asleep which ultimately led to me being very tired the next day which for me makes it very hard to make healthy eating choices. Therefore for me eating some fruit and yogurt before bed helps me lose weight.

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Kerry January 7, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Add me to the list of evening eaters. My husband works nights and I miss him during the evening. I find that I eat because of this. I’ll plunk myself on the couch after the kids are in bed, and eat and eat and eat. It’s sad really. But your blog helps me to look at these things and try and get better at eating.

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April January 7, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I think, as in all things diet related, that WHAT you eat at night is far more important than WHEN you eat it. A quart of ice cream isn’t going to fit into most people’s diet plans no matter what time of day they consume it. I hate going to bed hungry, so sometimes I’ll have a little snack in the evening, but I just try to be somewhat mindful about what it is and try to keep it on the more healthy side. The fact is, for me adequate sleep is one of the biggest factors in losing or maintaining weight. A grumbling stomach is not conducive to a good night’s sleep.

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Tiffany @ dynamics of happy January 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I can SO relate to this!
In fact, Everytime I think I’m five lbs heavier than i would like and I should tighten up in the eating, I always end up stressing myself out and have things backfire instead.
What I realize I need to do, is just try to incorporate more vegetables and be more cognizant of my body signals- paying extra attention to when I’m ACTUALLY hungry and when I’m full– but tossing any dieting mindset out the window; THAT is what I find most helpful in losing that gnawing 5 lbs!

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Shawn Cecil January 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Major midnight snacker here. I was never bothered by it until I studied abroad in France and lived with a host family for a year. I adored them, but being a midnight snacker when you’re a guest in someone’s home for a full year (especially in a country that doesn’t believe in snacking) can DEFINITELY lead to some shameful moments! I wasn’t supposed to keep food in my room because we lived in the countryside and the house was prone to bug problems, so my only option was slinking around the dark kitchen at night hoping no one could hear me. The only times I got caught were the few occasions that I ran into my (suspiciously red-eyed and giggly) teenaged host brother doing his own cabinet rummaging. But to get back to the topic- yeah, I agree with the majority here. I don’t see the harm in night eating if it’s done mindfully and you accounted for it earlier in the day.

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Annette January 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Wow. How liberating is that. I love the idea of not fitting into the “norms”; of honoring your body, spirit and mind; of being mindful of how you treat and feed yourself and of being respectful and thoughtful of your body’s needs. Well done. A nice post for a New Year.

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Kellie January 7, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I eat a HUGE snack before bed. When I was losing weight I still would eat a huge nighttime snack. For me and my body it doesn’t matter what time I eat, as long as I stay within what my body needs. I look forward to my nighttime snack in front of the tv. Call it mindless eating or what you will, but for me it works and it allows me to sleep through the night without waking up at 3am hungry.

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Bek @ Crave January 7, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Um yes! This is exactly what I needed! Pinning this :)

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Utsargo January 7, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Very resourceful discussion about diet. I enjoyed it very much.

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Michelle January 7, 2013 at 11:07 pm

The beautiful thing about life, I’m learning, is that the second that you acknowledge a feeling, an action, an emotion and find a way to work with it instead of fighting it, is the same second that is ceases to have real power over you anymore. I still struggle with so many things, including when and how to eat “right”, but I don’t want to give it the power to define me anymore. It’s just something I’m figuring out, day by day.

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Maria January 8, 2013 at 1:54 am

hi andie! i love how you are always so accepting of your body, habits, etc exactly as they are. you are such an inspiration. i am curious, why is it that you want to “alot calories” during the day so that you can eat at night? – why not try to truly listen to you hunger and eat exactly what you know your body needs at that particular moment? i am trying my hardest to be able to do that rather than setting limits that i have to work within, to honor my body and to be free of worrying about calories and whatnot. i mean nothing disrespectful by this and am honestly just wondering your perspective on the matter. hope you are having a fantastic day!

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admin January 8, 2013 at 7:16 am

Hi Maria,

This is an excellent question. As far as calories are concerned, I’m just a person who is aware of them. I can’t help but know them well and to loosely plan with them, and largely, as I’ve written about in the past, it suits me; it brings me a level of comfort. With that in mind, I’ve come to know that my body naturally craves more food at night and less during the day. To respect that, I remain mindful of the calories I’m consuming in the daytime, knowing that I’ll consume more later. For example, I know that for me, dinner is very important and I prioritize it as the biggest and most awesome meal of all. Knowing the way I love dinner and the snacks that come after, I’m probably a little more conservative at breakfast and lunch. I make choices earlier in the day that are healthy and filling without leaving me hungry, but that also acknowledge my nighttime preferences and rituals. Does this make sense?
If I were to liken what I eat in a day to the dollars I spend in a day, it might be clearer, so here goes: Let’s say I like to go out to dinner and buy a nice meal out in a restaurant. Then, after dinner, I like to go out for a cocktail and a dessert on the way home. These can get expensive, so to ensure balance, I make sure to prepare lighter, less costly breakfasts and lunches at home.

Hope this was helpful. Thanks for asking and for reading!

Andie

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Courtney January 8, 2013 at 4:32 am

Interesting, I am the exact opposite. I eat the bulk of my calories for the day between 7am-3pm and could easily not eat past 3 until bedtime and not feel hungry. It’s like my body just needs x amount of food for the day and then it is done. It took me quite a while to figure this out and be respectful of it though, because it’s not the norm.

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Stephanie Hanson January 8, 2013 at 9:36 am

I too am a nighttime eater – and your post really encouraged me! Often times – especially after a really tough evening work-out – I will have a bowl of cereal after dinner. I just need that extra snack to not have belly growls all night. I agree that if you are making healthy choices in the nighttime snacks you are consuming – who cares?

I recently lost 20 pounds through My Fitness Pal and sometimes struggle with being obsessed with counting calories. Your blog is truly an inspiration and helps me to come back down to earth. I indulge when I feel like it and try really hard not to feel guilty afterward. I figure as long as I am paying attention, I am doing better than most people.

Thank you for all your wonderful posts – they are helpful and encouraging for someone who is in “maintenance” mode and needs some help not to be so obsessed all the time. You are an inspiration because you speak the truth!

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Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy January 8, 2013 at 10:58 am

I am naturally just really hungry at night. I know it is not emotional hunger, I am just hungry. i have learned that if I am hungry, then I need to eat. I just make good choices, like fruit and nuts.

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Marianka January 10, 2013 at 3:02 am

Evening eating is my biggest problem:) I need to struggle every day not to eat sweets and bakery products. I hope one day I’m not going to feel hunger in the evening:) Love your blog

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Et tu, tutu? January 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

Wow, thanks for this post! I never thought of it that way before and I’d always feel guilty but…I just plain don’t like breakfast. I’m not hungry for it at all. Thanks for making me realize that I’m not a crazy person.

-Lindsey

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anneliesz January 17, 2013 at 6:10 pm

But isn’t that always a bit of a question- that last little snippet of your post? I think of two kinds of people – those who work with their strengths and deepening what already is perceived as “good”and “valuable” versus those who focus on their weaknesses. It makes me think of the book Strengthfinder in relation to careers or even MBTI. Anyone can succeed. There is good in everyone. And having said that, my math skills are abysmal where language has always been my love. So I follow my love and let it lead me on. Thought-provoking post, Andie.

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Leanne (Simplicitlee) January 19, 2013 at 1:13 am

Andie I love this post. I think that there is so much truth in doing what is right for your body.

Any set date yet for when your book will be coming out? I cannot wait to read it.

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Sandro January 26, 2013 at 6:26 am

Funny, 6’25 am here and after snacking throughout the night and feeling bad about it, i googled it and your post came up. Interesting way of seeing things. You made me smile. Thanks :)

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Reanna January 26, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Let me preface this by saying that I have terrible eating habits and self control. My latest night time habit has been eating dinner and then “sharing” a pint of ice cream with my boyfriend. He does not eat as much of it as I do, and I have to finish the pint. For some reason leaving any seems like an abomination. I do this with pizza too. It’s kind of tough for me to prepare meals for two and not over eat. Anything my boyfriend doesn’t eat, I will. Being a person with a weight problem, I know infinitely more than he does about calories, good and bad foods, etc, but what he knows is when to stop. Have you ever seen a video of a shark eating and their eyes go completely black, like there is nothing else in the world other than what’s in his mouth? Sometimes I feel that way, especially when there is 1/4 of a pint left but it’s kinda melted just like I like it and would still taste amazing if I could still taste it. All my knowlege in that rational part of my brain doesn’t make a difference when I want to eat.

So now I am working on paying attention to what I eat. I think I read that somewhere on your blog :). I also wonder if eating at night is shame eating. Does it really count if nobody sees me doing it? I pinned something recently that said “What you eat in private, you wear in public.” Wow, what a downer.

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Victor January 27, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Look around…we are all tremendously different on the outside. I believe that each of us has to figure out what works for ourselves. The journey of a native american senior will contrast that of a nordic weightlifter. Obvious, but sometimes we look across the dinner table and forget that…..

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Katie February 2, 2013 at 4:08 am

Hi Andie,

I have been reading your blog from Spain for quite some time. I am in my own journey towards health, fitness, and weight loss, and your posts are so encouraging. In fact, my weight loss goal is exactly 135 pounds, and I have less than 100 to go now!

Anyways, in response to this post: having lived in Spain now for several years, I have noticed something quite interesting. People are very protective of their culture’s views on proper nutrition and eating habits. Many Americans interested in healthy eating would shirk at a breakfast without some source of protein, and eating late at night, as you have discussed, has a connotation of desperation and “fatness”. However, Spaniards generally eat the same thing for breakfast every day: toast and coffee and then don’t really eat anything substantive again until 2 or 3 pm for lunchtime. Dinner is consumed around 9 or 10 pm. And Spain as a nation beats the U.S. in healthy living standards by leaps and bounds.

While many Americans couldn’t fathom eating three distinct meals at 7 am, 3 pm, and 10 pm, Spaniards look at American mealtimes and typical foods with just as much incredulity. It has been very interesting to be able to inspect my own country’s nutritional quirks from a new set of eyes.

My verdict on late-night eating: as long as one is eating in moderation and not consuming out of emotional instability, I see no problems with it.

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admin February 2, 2013 at 9:37 am

Katie, I love this comment and I really appreciate all the thought and insight you put into it. Thank you. Given that many European countries are faring far better than we Americans are in terms of obesity, I think we could learn a thing or two from their practices. In general, I wonder if it’s as simple as: we’d all be better off if we put an end to our diet crazed mentality. I wonder if other countries have as many explosive fad diets emerge as we do. I wonder how much less mental baggage we’d carry if we simply listened to our bodies and tried to live our lives without obsessing about food nonstop (way easier said than done at this point, I realize.) It would mean–”hey, do you like to eat breakfast? Go ‘head! And you, over there–You like to eat late at night? Great! Do what’s best for you and stop trying to fit a set standard.”

Thank you again for taking the time to comment and adding to the conversation!

Andie

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Emily February 2, 2013 at 4:21 am

I think “nightime eater” should have been my given name!!

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ambyr February 3, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Omgosh! I swear you and I have soooo much in common! Chipotle, donughts, a massive amount of weight loss, expectations of “skinny girl perfected lives”, being wrong lol, and late night eating! It is my happy place and I refuse to give it up. However like you said the key is to work that time of happiness ;) into your total daily plan! Love everything youve said and so happy to hear it from someone. Im not alone in this world after all! ♥

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Liam Rubel February 7, 2013 at 1:53 am

If you left yourself craving for foods at night time means you will end up eating more. So make frequent eating habits which will help you eating less, that helps you in keeping the weight down. You can also opt for some healthy snacks like fruits for night time craving.

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Karissa Meyers March 5, 2013 at 11:48 pm

I just found your blog from a recommendation on a WW board and you have a gift for helping people accept themselves. I so identify with so much of your story. I ran cross country and track in high school and we were really good going to state ever year and one year even placing first. BUT all of competition took the fun out of running and replaced it with pressure. I still can’t really get into it again because its JUST NOT FUN. I love being active and have found so many other things to do in lieu of running that actually excite me but it wasn’t until reading your post that I started to let go of the guilt about not running.

Truthfully its the same with late night snacking. I also always need a late night snack or a very late dinner and I felt bad about it because it didn’t seem normal but truthfully it works for me, I now know how to keep it in check, and you’ve helped me to see that its about finding what works for me and tuning out all of the noise about what is “normal” and what is “best.

Thank you for sharing your story!

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Faith @ Artistic31Mama April 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm

I couldn’t agree more! I am a nighttime snacker as well. I fought against it for awhile and would always become so frustrated. Now I use myfitnesspal and track my calories throughout the day making sure that I leave “snacking” calories in there for in the evening. It’s a way to unwind for me as well. I choose healthy snacks and don’t go over calories, but I’ve been losing weight steadily. My mom is the same way. She starts eating around noon and eats right up until bedtime. She lost over 150lbs doing weight watchers that way. So I don’t believe the media hype about not eating before bed. I say everyone knows their body and what works for them. Once you find that out, stick with what works and accept who you are and not who others say you need to be. :-) Love your blog! (I’m 27 too and am currently working on losing baby weight…I’ve lost 26lbs so far. :-) )

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Chris May 30, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I’m the same way. I often eat a late dinner or snack lightly shortly before bed. While it may not be the ‘perfect’ situation, at the end of the day the most important issue is total calories consumed in that waking day. If you’re below your body’s break even point, you’re still going to lose the weight regardless of when the last bite hit your mouth.

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Dee September 6, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Love this post !!!!!! All I see is negative and stopping it which makes me feel guilty . I have done night eating for years and years and am thin. In fact I lost all my baby weight still night eating. That is why I question the article sand studies!!! I just can’t sleep without a full belly too.

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