Night Eating Syndrome –What to Do?

Could this be you? “Oh, I can’t even think about breakfast in the morning after what I ate all through the night. I feel so ashamed of myself. Maybe I just won’t eat lunch.”

Now it’s dinner time and you’ve come home starving and maybe on your way home you stopped by and picked up some of your favorite fast food. OK? Or maybe you’re cooking a fast dinner and you find yourself eating as you cook. During dinner you eat and eat until you’re so full that your stomach hurts. However, you still have cravings for some (___?____) which are full of high calories. These cravings happen throughout the evening and one or more times during your night. This way of night eating ends up the same way every morning. You wake up and say to yourself, “Oh, I can’t even think about breakfast in the morning after what I ate last night. I feel ashamed of myself. Maybe I just won’t eat lunch. “The wanting to avoid breakfast and even lunch helps keep this vicious cycle continuing.

The typical feeling is shame because you don’t have any control over your food choices. Night eating syndrome is a real disorder and you can get help. If something similar happens to you, you probably have night eating syndrome.
Great Treatment Tips to control or cancel night eating: (one-two percent of the population has night eating syndrome, but the rate is as high as six percent among those who are obese. The emotionally charged eating tends to run in families with addictions according to The American Journal of Psychiatry.)


  •   For hormonal issues, one way to combat night eating syndrome is to administer tryptophan. Tryptophan has a similar effect to carbohydrate consumption; it ultimately results in a raised level of serotonin. This is 5HTP.
  • • 5 HTP has shown to be helpful in reducing the carbohydrate cravings that can be a part of the night eating syndrome and 5-HTP addresses the stress by reducing the body’s need to release the stress hormone cortisol. The food consumed at late hours is often high-calorie, starchy food. Carbohydrates adjust the chemical balance in the brain, increasing serotonin levels. Increased serotonin, in turn, helps the person to sleep. 5HTP can do this without the weight gain and can be ordered here:
  • • Progressive muscle relaxation with affirmative healing statements have been shown to reduce symptoms associated with night eating syndrome
  • • Of course, it is also helpful to address the issues that create stress. This often calls for some form of mental health counseling.
  • • Structured nutritional meal plans are a means of reducing the episodes of dietary restriction and the urges to binge and purge, plus natural weight loss can happen. (See article link at )

1. Adequate nutritional intake can prevent cravings and promote satiety (See article at)
2. Spread your calories out evenly over the day to avoid feeling overly hungry
3. Skipping meals is a trigger for night eating. Make a commitment to change and plan three meals a day.
4. Eat breakfast even if you don’t feel like it
5. Plan a healthy after dinner snack in a pre-portioned package
6. Eat a serving of whole grains with dinner

The following are more practical suggestions to curb night eating:


  1. • Chew XyliChew Gum – Peppermint from a health food store
  2. • Keep your kitchen free of junk food by making a grocery list of wholesome choices and buying them
  3. • Brush your teeth after dinner and after any snack
  4. • Freeze dinner leftovers for lunch or next dinner so you don’t snack on them later
  5. • Find other activities like drawing, knitting, to keep your hands and mind preoccupied or go for a walk

More Information on what is Night Eating Syndrome?

During the nighttime, individuals with night eating syndrome have a decrease in the hormone that accompanies sleep, melatonin. Researchers have found that the drop in melatonin contributes to their sleep disturbances.
Those with night eating syndrome experience the daily cycle of out of control eating with respect to food and calorie intake Understanding this cycle is the first step to being able to plan the gentle changes. According to Stunkard AJ, Grace WJ, Wolf HG: The night-eating syndrome Am J Med 1955; 19:78–86, 33% or more of daily calories are consumed after dinner. The next day the person has no desire to eat much for breakfast. Minimum food intake continues through the day, while depression becomes more pronounced at the end of the day. A significant amount of food is consumed for dinner, but again 33% or more of the food intake occurs after dinner and at one or more times during the night.
Who is at Risk of Developing Night Eating Syndrome?
Night-eating syndrome may occur in 10% of obese people. It is time to seek help.
Are there Specific Triggers for Night Eating Disorder?
Researchers have found that the triggers are:

  •  Body image dissatisfaction
  •  Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Interpersonal stressors
  • Boredom
  • Continual dieting

How is Night Eating Syndrome different from Binge Eating or Bulimia?
Night Eating Syndrome is where you frequently eat small high calorie snacks throughout the night. Individuals with binge eating disorder and/or bulimia consume 3,000 calories or more in one or two hours. The binges are not consistent.


About drfullerstherapytips

Award winning Dr. Fuller is a leading dysfunctional behavior & eating disorder expert, Licensed Counselor, and National Hypnotherapist. She has helped countless individuals find happiness that has eluded them. Her twenty years of private practice gives her a unique insight into what can work to change one’s life.
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