We hear this time and time again during patient visits: “I’m fine all day- I can stay on track until the evening hits.  Evenings just kill me.”  Nighttime eating is likely the most detrimental habit in patients who experience weight gain or have difficulty managing weight. Scientists estimate that eating an extra 100 calories a day (or night) can put on about 10 extra pounds in one year, and many people can easily eat 4 to 5 times that amount after the sun sets.

 Patients who are overweight tend to eat more than half of their daily calories after their evening meal and into the night, some even awakening from sleep to eat carbohydrate-rich snacks.  This pattern goes by the name Nighttime Eating Syndrome (NES).  It is believed to affect at least 1 in 11 people attending weight loss clinics.

The causes vary when it comes to the infamous nighttime eating pattern. For some, it’s loneliness (Valentine’s Day, anyone?).  For others, boredom plagues them.  Being stressed and depressed never helps either.  Whether it is the sex hormones of perimenopause, the digestive hormone insulin, or the sleep hormone melatonin, hormones without a doubt play a role.  For many overweight patients, breaking the habits of nighttime eating, and more importantly, the demons that cause them, can be the key to success in acute weight loss and long-term weight management.  Below are some tips we often give to our patients when teaching them how to defeat nighttime eating in the short-term and counseling them on how to conquer it for good:

Weightloss® is a physician-supervised weight loss program that can help you identify, overcome, and manage whatever roadblocks stand in the way of your weight loss goals.

Tara L. Parr, MPAS, PA-C