Late-night eating, also known as “night eating,” or “night-eating syndrome” is common among many bariatric surgery patients.
Night-eating syndrome occurs when individuals consume at least one-quarter of their daily calorie intake following dinner and before or during bedtime hours. Regardless of how many calories they consume during the day, night-eaters are struck by the need to continue eating throughout the night. Those who suffer from night eating will frequently experience feelings of shame and guilt, which can eventually lead to depression and worsened health problems.
Night-eating syndrome is different from sleep-related eating disorder, during which individuals will sleepwalk and eat strange, unhealthy foods such as jars of mayonnaise and spoonfuls of coffee grounds. On the contrary, night eaters are completely lucid and fully aware of their actions, and are usually either overweight or obese. According to research, as much as 42 percent of bariatric surgery patients have suffered from night-eating syndrome.
Studies have shown that night eating can be triggered during times of stress and anxiety. As time passes and normal eating patterns have been disrupted, the body will become more and more accustomed to night eating. Additionally, those who try and fail at dieting will also suffer from night eating, since starvation and limited calorie intake can result in late-night cravings and overeating.
If you’re a weight-loss surgery patient who is suffering from night eating, follow these tips to get your health and weight-loss progress back on track:
- Start engaging in one or more new nighttime activities that will distract you from eating. Buy some new books, lose yourself in a new television series, write in a journal, or enjoy long, luxurious baths.
- Eat healthy, low-calorie snacks or drinks that are comforting during nighttime. Eat sugar-free gelatin or low-fat yogurt, or drink a cup of soothing herbal tea that will relax you for bedtime.
- Eat light foods rich in nutrients that will create a lasting feeling of fullness. Examples of such foods are almonds, a soft-boiled egg, or half an avocado.
- Floss and brush your teeth following dinner. Cleaning your teeth after eating dinner will actually reduce your need to engage in night eating, while also discouraging you from eating desserts and other unhealthy snacks.