For some people, eating at night is but an infrequent event that never disrupts their lives. For those of us who suffer with Night Eating Syndrome (NES), night time eating is anything but infrequent or non-disruptive.
While not the same as binge eating disorder, those of us who struggle with nighttime eating are often binge eaters. It differs from binge eating in that the amount of food consumed in the evening or at night is not necessarily objectively large, nor is the loss of control over food intake a requirement. Rather, those of us who struggle with food at night feel like we have no control over our eating patterns. Consequently, we often feel shame and guilt over our condition.
Most of us are often obese or overweight, which makes us more susceptible to health problems. A number of us with night eating issues often have a history of substance abuse, and may also suffer from depression, typically reporting being more depressed at night. It is also common for us to suffer with sleep disorders and disturbances.
We often find ourselves eating even when we’re not hungry and we continue to eat even when we become uncomfortably full. Feeling embarrassed by the amount we eat, we typically eat alone, or in secret, and become very isolated. We often feel guilty, depressed, disgusted, or distressed, which causes us to hide even more from the world in order to avoid facing others and to keep what we come to believe is our dirty little secret.
Those of us with night-eating syndrome eat the majority of our food during the evening, often eating very little or nothing in the morning, only to wake up during the night and fill up on high-calorie snacks till we feel like we could burst.
Traits of patients with night-eating syndrome may include being overweight, frequent failed attempts at dieting, symptoms of depression or anxiety, substance abuse, concern about weight and shape, perfectionism, and a negative self-image. We frequently come to believe that our night time eating is both shameful and unacceptable, so we reject ourselves which only adds to our feelings of deep shame and depression.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you doing a great deal of eating at night?
- Do you find yourself staying up late to eat alone, or do you wake up after going to bed in order to eat?
- Are you eating at night even after you are full, only to feel overwhelming shame and guilt?
- Do you feel like you’ve lost control over when you eat and how much?
If you found yourself answering ‘yes’ to any one of the above questions, and are ready to accept help, then you can benefit from attending an OA meeting, finding a sponsor, and working our Twelve Step program of recovery. We hope you will join us and come to experience the gifts of the OA program: happiness, joy and freedom!
To hear about recovery in OA from nighttime eating, click here.