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  • Writer's pictureabikevans

Overcoming the Night-Time Binge

Most people suffering from BED or any restrictive ED has probably experienced strong binging urges after dark. Everyone else is in bed so you don't to feel judged about how much you are eating, and you’ll sleep after anyway, so you don’t have to sit with the thoughts of guilt.

Below are 3 steps that have helped me to finally ditch over-eating at night

If you’ve been restricting all day – you are hungry. Your mind will be preoccupied with thoughts of food. Although you can push these down for a while, eventually your brain will go into autopilot to make sure that you get some. It’s a basic survival instinct and nothing to be ashamed of. Just your brains way of telling you it needs fuel to keep functioning.

If you’ve already experienced a binge that day – you may be feeling guilt and high levels of stress. You’re probably feeling panicked that it might happen again.

I would sit and think about everything I had consumed and try to think of how I could counteract the damage I had done over the next few days. But this also puts your brain into alert mode. Instead of accepting what has happened you are telling your subconscious that it isn’t safe. If you are already in the habit of binging and these episodes of overeating have overtime become a way to numb other feelings of stress or discomfort – you are likely to end up binging just to quiet the thoughts.

A counterproductive process!

So how do we overcome the night-time binges?

Tip #1 - Phones and Laptops at night

One of the most useful techniques I have used so far is not bringing my phone and computer into my bedroom at night.

For a long time, I wanted to do this but found comfort in scrolling social media or watching TV until I fell asleep – it helped me to shut out any negative thoughts.

When I started to leave my devices with my sister at night – I would find eating at night less appealing because I would have to actually focus on what I was eating, rather than distracting myself with my favourite comfort shows (‘Friends’ - of course). Being more aware of what I was eating made it easier to decide to stop eating and instead choose to get a good night’s sleep.

I know this one may be hard, but try asking whoever your living with to take you devices when you are in a good mood and this will help you to feel more accountable and stick to it when the time actually comes to part with them.

Tip #2 - Night-time Routine

Be it a nice shower, getting a pair of PJs you really love, taking off your makeup or writing a diary – having some structure in the evening will help your body to know that now it’s time to sleep.

If you have struggled with night-time binges for a long time – your brain might associate night-time with eating. By introducing new habits into your night-time routine your brain will start to instead associate going to bed with these positive habits that you would prefer to include.

Doing these things will also help your mind to unwind and hopefully make you slightly more tired when you get into bed. Rather than trying to sleep straight after staring at a TV or phone when your brain is very active, after doing something more relaxing you will likely fall asleep faster and have less time lying in bed awake thinking about food.

“Eating disorder recovery becomes possible when you keep making the next right decision over and over. With time, these decisions become automatic.” ― Brittany Burgunder

Tip #3 - Set boundaries with eating in your bedroom

The brain is great at learning habits. If you often eat meals/snacks in your bed, then your brain will come to associate being in bed with food. This means that when you go to bed – your brain will find it easier to go into autopilot thinking – yep, now is the time I usually get to eat.

Try eating your main meals at a kitchen table or on your sofa. This allows you to instead associate that place in your home with eating and overtime your brain will naturally begin to understand that your bed is for sleep.

By not turning on the TV and maybe putting your phone to one side for your dinner – you can also focus more on what you are eating, really enjoy it and then move onto the next part of your evening.

Remember - one binge doesn't mean you have failed.

All these steps will take time to become a part of your routine. Don’t feel disheartened if despite following these steps a night-time binge still occurs. You have probably had this habit for a while, and it is going to take a few tries to break it.

Instead, if you do end up binging, as hard as it may be, try again the next evening. You may be surprised to find that by building in these new positive habits, your old more harmful ones begin to become more infrequent and even go away altogether.

With Love

A b i x x


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