Breaking the Night Snack habit – day 1

I want to stop over eating at night time. There I identified a behavior I want to change.

I have been unable to change it for many years now. Years? Yes I think it is now years of this.

I found this article http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/3-easy-steps-to-breaking-bad-habits

 

Step No.1: Make It Conscious

The first step is to figure out when — and why — you bite your nails, crack your knuckles, or engage in any other bad habit. “If you can notice when you are doing it and under what circumstances and what feelings are attached to it, you might be able to figure out why you are doing it and be able to stop,” says Susan Jaffe, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in New York City.

I overeat at night time, once the kids are in bed. Instead of me going to bed myself, I stay up for 1-4 hours and eat constantly. I have called it binge eating before, but I don’t think that is the right name for what I do. None of it is mindless, crazed, or rushed. I slowly and methodically eat a bag of chips, then move on to slowly savor half a tub of ice cream, then I find some hard candies. Sometimes I start or mix in some veggies, I had 5 carrots the other night, or a box of raisins, or some sunflower seeds. The type of food does not seem to matter, it is about the act of eating. And of course I’m not actually hungry.

This food serves to relieve the stress of the day and feed the ache in my soul. It also serves to delay going to sleep, both in time, but also by keeping myself awake, it is hard to sleep while overfull and bloated with indigestion.

Step No. 2: Put It in Writing So It Really Sinks In

“Log it,” says Janet L. Wolfe, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York City and author of several books including What to Do When He Has a Headache. This will help you establish a baseline, she says. “Put down the antecedents, the emotions surrounding the knuckle cracking and what goes through your head when you crack your knuckles,” she says. “This will make your bad habit more conscious.”

Wolfe suggests keeping the log for at least a week. The next step is to analyze the data and look at what your usual triggers are. “Do you do it when you are anxious or bored?”

James Claiborn, PhD, a psychologist in South Portland, Maine, and the co-author of The Habit Change Workbook, agrees. “Write out a list of the pros and cons of this behavior and keep a record of when you do it,” he tells WebMD. “Measurement of anything tends to change it and makes people much more aware in the first place.”

Pros of pigging out at night time:

  1. It tastes good and makes me feel happy and content and comforted
  2. It is a distraction from my stressful day
  3. It keeps my hands busy
  4. It keeps me awake and delays a night of fitful fearful sleep
  5. It helps me get through my day as I look forward to this time of night
  6. I assume it triggers all kinds of good dopamine

Cons of pigging out at night time:

  1. It forces me to ignore my body’s signal of hunger/satiety and sleepiness
  2. I am filling myself with junk and messing with my blood sugar balance
  3. I am gaining weight, steadily, up nearly 20 pounds in 2 years
  4. I have stomach pain, bloating, irregularity, heartburn some nights, general feeling of blah
  5. I’m still not hungry in the morning, or stomach still in distress so I don’t eat breakfast which further disrupts my day and blood sugar, etc
  6. I feel ashamed, and hide this activity from my family
  7. My clothes no longer fit me
  8. I am cheating myself out of sleep my body needs, I am very tired
  9. I fall asleep downstairs and not in bed with Hubby who feels hurt to be left alone
  10. all this junk food is expensive
  11. I don’t like how I look and stopped flirting with Hubby and even avoid social gatherings even more for fear of being judged fat
  12. My joints are achy
  13. I exercise less, feeling sloth like and achy is a vicious circle
  14. I feel out of control

Step No. 3: Bait and Switch

Once you realize when and why you are biting your nails, cracking your knuckles, or engaging in any other bad habit, the next logical step is to find a not-quite-as-annoying temporary or permanent replacement for it.

“If you are a nail biter, try gum,” Jaffee says.

“For throat clearing, the competing response may be some sort of slow exhaling because it is impossible to do that and clear your throat at same time,” Claiborn says. “Develop a way of breathing whenever you feel the urge to clear your throat. You can see some changes in a very short period of time. There will be a major reduction in throat clearing within days.”

If knuckle cracking is your way of coping with stress, Wolfe, says, “Try getting your hands in a position where you won’t be able to crack your knuckles. Or stroke the fabric of your sleeve, doodle, or do something else with your hands.” 

Meditation may also help break bad habits, she adds. Once you have identified the triggers, you can do meditation to distract yourself next time you are in a trigger situation. Another tactic involves placing a large rubber band around your wrist, says Farrell. “Every time you become aware that you are [engaging in a bad habit], pull it back and allow it to snap so it creates a discomfort,” she tells WebMD.

Hmm, this part is trickier. I have tried replacing the unhealthy food with healthy food, but it seems that any eating fuels my need to continue eating for the next few hours. I tried chewing gum and that didn’t help much. It isn’t about the chewing. I really think it is about the chemicals – the sugar rush, the fat and salt, all adding to my happy chemicals to distract me from impending bedtime and memories I don’t want to haunt me any more.

Maybe it is time to stop avoiding this too. Am I ready to face it head on? no more distractions? What if I turned off the tv, skipped the fridge and pantry, brushed my teeth and went to bed like my kids do? What if instead of tv, I turn on my favorite music? And what if the terrible memories come flooding back – and I tell them to shut up – that I am safe now, my bed is warm and comfy, that everyone in this house loves me, and that I love myself too, so I am going to sleep now?

I’ve never actually tried this. I’m kind of excited. And yes I don’t expect this to work every night and I fully expect to raid the fridge again and I will be gentle with myself when that happens, but try to remind myself that I dont need it. I am ok.

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One thought on “Breaking the Night Snack habit – day 1

  1. I look forward to reading about your results. Evening is also my worst time. I’ve done better with having the straw to chew on. I’ve also discovered I enjoy tie the straw in knots, by then it’s soft enough. 😀

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