Question: Dear Luise: I’m constantly being plagued by night eating and I haven’t been able to find out anything about it. Have you ever heard of it? I think each time I finish supper that I am satisfied and done with food until the next day, and then between 10:00 PM and midnight, I get very hungry. Often I don’t feel like I can get enough. I’m not seriously overweight, but I could stand to lose a few pounds. I think this problem is what keeps me from succeeding. Can you help me understand what’s going on and maybe make a few suggestions? I’d appreciate it. Mark
Answer: Dear Mark: Most people, of which I am one, who have attended Overeaters Anonymous meetings are familiar with the “midnight-willies”. And many serious books on overeating refer to it as well. If your weight problem is mild and you haven’t gone those routes, then it probably does seem unique to you.
Many different causes have been attributed to the “hunger that comes with the dark”. Psychologists have suggested that it is connected with our earliest years when we were put to bed and felt isolated and point to a more subtle emotional hunger. Medical doctors remind us that the end of the day finds us to have the lowest energy level and the lowest resistance.
Whether psychological, physiological or both, it’s a dangerous time for most of us who have eating issues or the more formidable classification of actual eating disorders. Most weight-loss programs prohibit any food after 6:00 PM…when lessened physical activity and impending sleep decrease metabolism.
I think I would consult a good nutritionist if I were you to see if you can get a handle on what’s going on. It may be as simple as your needing something more lasting in your evening meal or you may need to look more closely at your feelings and how they affect you at the end of the day. Some of us even have strange internal clocks and need to skip breakfast, eat in the afternoon and again much later on.
If you are only slightly overweight, good for you for be willing to take a closer look at this before you get into serious difficulty. You are probably well aware that obesity is a major cause of many life-threatening conditions. I would suggest that you take a look at the website of the world-renowned, nutritionist Ann Luise Gittleman: www.annlouise.com and consider ordering one or more of her books that are available there. That might be a good jumping off spot for you. Blessings, Luise