One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

WEEKLY QUESTIONS

What Do You Get Out of ____?

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I was going to title this post, “What Do You Get Out of Night Time Snacking” because that is my issue right now and I want to seriously think/talk about it. I want to explore why I do it night after night when I don’t want to. Why do I sometimes feel powerless to it.

Then I realized my night time snacking may be some one else’s sneaking food or extra serving or super sized fry. Regardless of how our food demons materialize there must be something we are getting out of it or we wouldn’t do it.

Right?

So what is it?

What do we get out of overeating or eating when not hungry?

For me, honestly, I think it’s a lot about habits. I formulated a habit of unwinding at the end of the day by eating. It’s my sigh of relief, a celebration of a job well done or compensation for a crappy day.

I also eat to stay awake. It gives me a burst of energy when I really should go to bed and get a good night’s sleep.

There are also times I eat because I feel sorry for myself and for some reason, food fills a void. I’m not sure why, but it does.

So I guess the answer to my own question is…

Sometimes I get relaxation, sometimes energy and sometimes, in a weird way, compassion from the food.

What do you get out of it?



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Discussion

There are 36 comments so far.

    Staci

    April 13, 2012

    I think when I’m eating something I really want/like, in that very moment I just feel happy. Nothing matters – stress is gone – happiness. Then the guilt comes and the happiness is gone. Vicious cycle!

    Great awareness Roni. I agree that we engage in these habits and behaviors because they work for us in some way. They key is to figure out what we are getting/needing and then figuring out what we can give ourselves as a replacement instead of the food that will better serve us.

    It’s gotten so much easier now that I treat each day as a practice.

    Lisa

    April 13, 2012

    I know! Why don’t I JUST go to bed?? Its so quiet, I can complete my thoughts, but I’m tired, not getting sleep, which affects my weight..yadda.. thanks for your blog!

    Dr. G

    April 13, 2012

    i’m 21 weeks pregnant and frustrated with my weight gain, but the problem is the nausea comes when i’m hungry. if i get hungry enough, i get insanely sick and when i do eat, the heartburn comes. so i realize this may not be the same situation, exactly, but i find myself each night, 10-11pm, searching the fridge and pantry for anything that doesn’t gross me out to eat. it makes me somewhat afraid for after i deliver (this is my 2nd child) how much weight i’ll have to lose… i’m a weight watchers lifetime member. i know how to make WW work. but it will be challenging to change my eating habits back to what they need to be post-partum.

    Marissa

    April 13, 2012

    I agree with the feelings you described of rewarding myself or unwinding from the day. I’m currently starting over and it’s a little tough right now to say the least, lol. In fact, today I felt kind of raw and I realized it was because I was fighting the urge to snack on chips, candy, etc. Weight Watchers has at least helped me to think about why I’m wanting to run to the fridge or pantry. I had a great, healthy dinner and felt full. Did that stop me from standing in my pantry while I looked around for something that I would want to eat? uh, no. But then my mom’s voice kick’s in, “If you have to stand there wondering what to eat, then you really aren’t hungry.” ( I think they said this more when I was a kid because I would leave the fridge door open too, long. lol)
    I don’t always walk out empty handed, but I’m trying to swap out for a healthier alternatives. I opted for a very small bowl of cheerios tonight. I wanted to eat 5 pieces of Easter candy/chocolate from my kiddos basket…Ha! I say 5, it would have been so much more!

    Thanks again for this post, they always seem to be on the same page as me;-)

    Ping

    April 13, 2012

    I think each person have difference from evening snack, for me ,night time snack will gain weight easily,one day is ok, if keep on 2 days for night snack, then will see difference, so usually i have snack at day time.

    Teresa

    April 13, 2012

    It took me a while to figure it out but I tend to start eating/snacking more when I am trying a avoid something that needs to be done. Like housework, paying the bills or phone calls that need to be made. My personality likes things neat and organized. I tend to get overwhelmed with my constant “to do” list. When I feel overwhelmed instead of just diving into what needs to get done I dive into food! Thankfully, I figured out my trigger several years ago. No more procrastinating for me!!!

    Aimee Witten

    April 13, 2012

    I find that I eat when I am bored or stressing. In the long run the food doesn’t make me feel in better. What a waste. LOL

    Karen@WaistingTime

    April 13, 2012

    Great question! For me a lot is habit or out of boredom so I get “something to do.” I also resort to snacking to stay awake some nights:( But I have to say that my evening snacking has significantly improved!!! Finally, progress.

    I don’t snack at night except eating the snack we have planned. Though last night was interesting. I didn’t realize I’d allowed for 2 Ghirardelli squares but only grabbed one. Later when I saw I had the calories for 2 budgeted, I asked the Mr if he wanted the other one or save it for tonight and he said grab it. We weren’t hungry but it was budgeted so why waste it was the mentality there. Weirdos.

    Marcia

    April 13, 2012

    I am lucky, I have never had a problem with night time snacking, but I certainly sympathize this those of you that do. My tough time is between 4 – suppertime. Most of my “bad” snacking is definitely because I’m bored.

    Heidi

    April 13, 2012

    I begin the cycle as soon as I walk in the door from work. Some nights it’s the time I have before I need to run kids somewhere, sometimes it’s avoidance of doing housework and sometimes I snack while I am figuring out dinner and making dinner and then I am too full to eat dinner. :( I really think I should change my clothes as soon as I walk in the door and go for a short walk or start a chore IMMEDIATELY! Any suggestions, would be greatly appreciated. I have been in this habit for many many years. Since I graduated from college and started working.

    Lauren

    April 13, 2012

    I think it is due to anxiety (which includes feelings of overwhelm-ness.) Eating makes that nervous, uncomfortable feeling in my stomach go away. I haven’t found the answer to this yet, but I’m trying to turn to smoothies: a double good thing: getting in a dairy and eating healthy.

    Mahi

    April 13, 2012

    You summerized the resons really well. The problem with habbits we don’t like but we do is that we act on impulse of “I want something to make me feel better” whiout knowing exactly how we feel in that instance. If we can cut the impulse and give ourselves time to figure out what is the problem our decisions become more rational. So recently I am doing the pause excercise. First I remind myslef that I don’t want to stop anything all I want is more time to make a sensible decision. So for example when I am on my way to frdige to grab something I stop for one minute just one minute and observe myslef . Feeling, body sensation Ususally after a minute, I feel that scoop of ice cream is not what I want usually it is just cup of water or resting without feeling guilty. But The important thing is if I want ice cream after a minute I get it and I enjoy eating it. I found the one minute pause very helpful.

    Jessica

    April 13, 2012

    Sometimes I crave that full-belly-I ate so much I’m sick-feeling. No idea why I like that feeling.
    I also eat out of habit.
    About the only thing that cures it for me is to keep a food diary. Writing that final supper-time entry and being done eating and tracking usually will curb it.
    Also, keeping crap out of my house. I remember your podcast or post a while back talking about having to MAKE something (pizza, popcorn, etc) when wanting a night time snack. If I dont have easily accessible food and have to MAKE something, I am less likely to mindlessly snack.

    Leah

    April 13, 2012

    I’m convinced that I have to persuade myself that I deserve more relaxation, compassion, etc. than food can provide because food is a poor form of therapy. It’s symptom relief, not a treatment for the true problem. A call to a friend, writing in a journal, or going for a walk might be a better solution. It’s really hard late at night!

    Elisa

    April 13, 2012

    I get distraction. If there are things I do not want to think about, I habitually start thinking about what to eat. Then I eat it. That’s just a few moments compared to the rest of this process! After eating I am distracted by the guilt from eating. The guilt from eating is familiar and I fall into it so completely that nothing else bothers me.

    Jenny

    April 13, 2012

    Great question!! Why do I do this? I have no idea (if you find the answer please let me know). I seriously think I do it out of habit, because I spent years doing it and I just haven’t broke myself of it. Like last night, I walked in the kitchen to put a glass in the sink and grabbed a handful of chips as I was walking back out. I wasn’t hungry (in fact I was still kinda full from dinner), I really didn’t even “think” that I wanted them, I just grabbed it because that’s what I always used to do and because it was there. This is the reason why I shouldn’t keep this kinda stuff in my house, if it’s there I’m going to eat it and then I feel SOOOO guilty. I buy the stuff for my son, but for some unknown reason I just can’t leave it alone. It really is a vicious cycle.

    Kathleen

    April 13, 2012

    Well.. last night i didn’t snack late and i was definitely conscious of it. I clutched my water bottle as i’d made a goal to get more water in. I had a mug of hot tea the night before. Would i rather eat a couple large bowls of ________. I THINK i would. It sounds great at the time! Then, comes that over stuffed feeling and feelings of regret.. why didn’t i stop at a little bit.. etc. I wish i’d never do that again, but most likely i will. It’s crazy. We avoid repeating other mistakes.. avoid other things that make us feel bad.. why not avoid this easy one?

    For me, and i could “talk” about this for pages.. but in a nutshell.. i’m turing 33 soon and just tired of not liking where i am.. of cutting myself short. And no matter how much i try and convince myself being healthy and lean takes work. You can’t just want it. I’d rather pout in these moments.. which i think will go away in time.. than feel crappy all the time. I’ll never be skinny, but i can be trim and fit and so that’s my aim.
    I just need to feel the void another way.. doing my nails.. a facial.. take a bath.. read.. do the dishes.. etc.. and know that in the morning i’ll actually wake up wanting breakfast and start the day off on the right foot. My clothes will fit better.. i’ll feel leaner.. nothing beats that.

    I agree it’s about habits.. pavlov’s dog (sp?) kids are in bed.. tv is on.. long day.. we all are stressed and tired.. so we want something.. then a little sweet.. then a little salty.. but we need to ask ourselves about what we need. If we are hungry we should eat.. but it needs to be a satisfying snack that’s mostly healthy or keep to a portion only of something that’s a treat.. measure it out.. walk away from the kitchen.. enjoy it and be done and move onto something else.

    Oh, how simple it sounds!

    Carolyn

    April 13, 2012

    Wow – this is such a good post and actually something I’ve been thinking about recently.

    For me, it is very similar to what you’ve posted. I snack at night due to boredom, for energy, comfort, and sometimes to avoid facing reality (whatever that reality may be).

    Food is so much more than just “fuel” which is why I think that so many of us struggle with losing weight.

    sue

    April 13, 2012

    There’s a really cool book by Charles Duhigg called “the Power of Habit”. I’m in no way endorsing this as a “product”, but it gave some totally new insight into why I have habits and how I can work on them.

    Thanks for the great question…lots to think about.
    s

    Agnes

    April 13, 2012

    As usual your posts are so timely for me! I have always struggled with night time snacking but lately it feels like it’s gotten worse. I think it’s a couple things for me. Habit is a bit one. End of the evening, unwinding, watching a little TV and bam, I want to eat! I’m not hungry but it’s the time and the TV is on so it must be eating time! The second thing is I associate food with so many good feelings that when I’m bored or tired or stressed, it’s my pick me up! I think I need to find a new pick me up!

    Jen

    April 13, 2012

    Companionship.

    I live alone. I get lonely. Food has filled that void. I try to substitute tea with a little honey and most of the time, that is good but sometimes, it is such a battle not to give in.

    Allison

    April 13, 2012

    Over the course of the past 20 years (yeah, a little sad it has taken me this long), I have come to realize that I binge eat pretty much out of habit. I started doing it in college as a response to dieting but then it just became a relaxing way to unwind. Come home from work, have a snack, relax, keep eating…..and eating. Yeah, there are other, obviously better, ways to relax, but food is tasty (up to point…then you don’t really taste it any more). That is what it does for me….it helps me relax. So I have gotten it under control by avoiding sugar and not letting myself get too hungry, which is usually where it starts. I sometimes think that psychologists, etc miss the point when they are looking for some deep inner problem like lack of self esteem. For me, that isn’t what it is. I am not saying that didn’t play a role into why I was dieting, oh so many years ago, when I was 5’10” and weighed 135….but it just became a relaxing habit and when I realized that, it got much easier to deal with.

    Kristi

    April 13, 2012

    right on the money for me too… mine isn’t at the end of the day though, mine is when i walk in the door. I know i need to make supper but worked all day, etc. etc. It’s the habit/routine. next week i’m going to try making supper a bit later and doing something as a family first… a game, a walk… or something by myself if need be… just something to change up the routine. And if I have too cook right away, i’m going to measure out something or make a half smoothie or somethign so i’m not just eating out of stress/habit etc. And this morning before i left for work i put the easter candy away so it wasn’t staring at me.

    Happy Friday to all! Perfectly timely post once again Roni :)

    Kate D

    April 13, 2012

    My issue is/was mainly eating even if I wasn’t hungry, just because the husband was eating. I guess what I was getting out of it was feeling a little bond with him over a late night snack or take-out after our kid went to bed. It was “our time” so if he was eating, I would, too! Once I put some thought into a realized that HE never cared if I was eating – if he wasn’t hungry, he wasn’t eating. So why should he care if I eat with him all the time? Turns out, he doesn’t! It was tough to fight the urge the first few times, but now it’s no big deal. Learning to LISTEN to my body, and eat when I’m actually hungry, has been a huge accomplishment.

    Christina

    April 13, 2012

    Great way to frame the issue!

    For me, it’s celebration for a long day, finally over and peace restored (I have 3 small kids). Honestly, at this point I think I just need to plan for a night time treat instead of trying to reason my way out of it. However, I do try to change it up thoughout the week: chocolate, glass of wine, pampering etc. I get nervous if I always go for a sweet treat that it will be very very hard to break that habit later!

    I hear when kids get older, moms don’t feel the need for night time rewards as much. But for now, in the baby/toddler/preschool trenches, I need a reward :)

    roni

    April 13, 2012

    Marissa – Your mom inspired this weekend’s quote!
    http://ronisweigh.com/2012/04/weekend-quote-youre-not-really-hungry.html

    :)

    Paula

    April 14, 2012

    For me it is habit. Then I took your snack free evening challenge a year or 2 ago and although I failed at first, I finally did 5 snack free nights in a row and kept it going. I do like to snack in the afternoon at work and it has developed into a terrible habit. Sometimes when I eat white sugar/sugar products it just makes me crave more which leads to a binge. Some folks have written that sugar is additive like any other drug and should be avoided, so on that note I think it is a combo of habit & addiction.

    connie

    April 14, 2012

    I found myself doing that this morning at 4am when I was wide awake. I did choose a healthy snack but still….180 calories just because I was awake. Most of my late night eating is me choosing to eat instead of going to sleep. Truthfully not really hungry just bored or stressed. Thanks for bringing to light something we all do.

    Blobmsis.com

    April 15, 2012

    The biggest hurdle to get over is one that you intimate right here in this post (although I love you mother’s “If you are wondering what you want to eat then you aren’t really hungry”).

    Being hungry is not a good thing, for reasons that are described in detail on a million sites – but to paraphrase them – Your body, when hungry goes in to energy storage mode, and your head gets all “what the hell am I doing to myself”.

    Making sure that you are eating enough of the right food is key, certainly BUT the fact that you (and others in this comment stream) are questioning their snacking motivations is a huge leap forward.

    It’s when someone DOESN’T look at why they find themselves standing in front of an open refrigerator that causes me to scratch my head.

    Barbara

    April 15, 2012

    Its true we all do this. But I think we need to look what we been eating all day.
    I been writing down the time when I eat and see if I am satisfies eating what I did.
    Maybe you are missing something during the day or you just need a nice glass of cucumber water (oh I love that stuff) or regular water.
    try that first and see if you are really wanting the snack.

    Amy @ A Little Nosh

    April 16, 2012

    Mine is eating when I’m not hungry, and I’m pretty clear on what I get out of it…gained weight, bloating, guilt, etc. I guess I do it out of habit, but it’s hard to say. I typically do it at work, when I’m actually really busy, so it can’t really be boredom. Like right now, I’m stuffed. But there are chocolate lemon cookies on the table and I’m fighting myself really hard not to grab 3 (because I have to eat cookies in multiples of three…my brother does it too). I’m a little out of control these days so this post was nicely timed for me.

    thegcube

    April 24, 2012

    I have mentioned this time and time again and will continue but food is fuel, not an antidepressant. We come to these places to talk about our bad habits,where they come from and how we cope with them…or not. but there is this one fact we can’t escape. Food is fuel, excess food/fuel is stored as fat. When we execise good and hard we feel it but we never really feel like working out.We feel hungry or thirsty and we relate feelings to emotions but we never really feel like “oh I gotta sweat! I gotta burn these excess calories!” When my workout is intense enough I don’t eat reclessly I feel the workout for days sometimes and that feeling keeps me on my diet. I’m trying real hard not to say it but no pain no gain well a little soreness isn’t bad.

    Mindy

    May 3, 2012

    I don’t know why but this post made me a little teary, especially when you said food gives you compassion. Although we should be able to pat ourselves on the back, as you mentioned in another post, it doesn’t seem like enough considering all we do…

    evey

    May 22, 2012

    I started breathing deeply and slowly and drink water to feel calm and centered. Not watching tv helps. I basically made a decision of no snaking after 6 PM and my focus feels good!