Another Word about Mid-Night Eating
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Ever since I was an elementary school, I have gotten up in the middle of the night, barely conscious, and gotten something to eat. A peanut butter sandwich, a stack of cookies, pudding....cereal. Often in the AM I will have no recollection of what I ate or even if i did. I have tried everything imaginable to defeat this. It is maddening. I will eat perfectly all day and wake up the next morning with several hundred extra calories under my belt.
When she was younger (10th grade?) my daughter began her struggle with bulimia and we had her admitted to a hospital in Philadelphia that is solely dedicated to treating eating disorders...After she came home, for a while we attended family meetings one evening a week. And it was then that I learned what NES is and that this was the key to what I'd struggled with my whole life. Nighttime Eating Syndrome. It is an eating disorder--which explained its power in my life. In my teens I developed a lifetime battle with anorexia and for over 15 years, I weighed under 100 lbs. BUT EVEN THEN, i got up at night to eat. Of course, what I ate and the quantities changed. From a bowl of ice cream, I then had one or two bites. One or two crackers. etc. But even these bits of food awakened a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness. and self hatred..because I could NOT say "no" to my compulsion to eat. It never occurred to me that I was struggling with another eating disorder one that trumped anorexia for almost my entire night.
There have been a handful of nights when I did not get up to go to the kitchen. 1) when my pain was too severe to make it possible or "worth it" to make my trek or 2) when there is not a thing in the house that I would consider eating. In these days of hardship due to the Coronavirus when my larders are empty, I have not gotten up to eat. Now while I HATE the sense of deprivation that having nothing available to eat causes, it does lead me to better sleep....uninterrupted but the drowsy need to "graze"....but even in nights when I have a slice of bread wiht some peanut butter. it often wrecks my tracking for the day. If I go to bed with 1200 calories under my belt and I have a sandwich at night...well it can really mess things up. I have learned that it is often easier to eat less during the day and go to bed with 800-900 calories eaten, that leaves me a little room to work with at night.
I have also learned one other trick. I have placed a category in my food tracking page called "Overnight" and everything that I eat from bedtime until breakfast the next day gets tracked in that category. I used to go until midnight and then switched to the next day. But I found that I could easily start the next day having 200-300 calories already consumed and that made that next day very difficult and this led me to be frustrated and hopeless. Beth (INDYGIRL) suggested to me to throw everything into the day just passed. That way in the AM I have a clean slate and can move on from the "errors " of the night before.
Beth also suggested to me to load up a Bentobox of snacks the night before and confine myself to only eating what is there. I bought the bentobox and tried it....but that got interrupted by pain, and empty cupboards. And lately with those two "obstacles" to my midnight noshing I'm eating nothing at night so will save the Bentobox for times of greater struggle.
How about you? Have you struggled with night time eating (by this I mean WAKING UP and GETTING OUT OF BED to eat..;.not eating in the evening before bed..they are two different things) and are you surprised to learn it is an actual eating disorder? I hope some of my ideas here will help you learn to live with or even conquer this sneaky little disorder that can cause so much havoc and self hatred.