Pin Me

Alternative Therapies to Treat Night Eating Syndrome

written by: LotusSnow • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 11/17/2010

Having just ate dinner, you feel physically full, but emotionally you are still hungry. You can't sleep because of your craving for more food. If this sounds familiar, you might have night eating syndrome. This is a real disorder and there are alternative treatments you can try to help you cope.

  • slide 1 of 7

    What is Night Eating Syndrome (NES)?

    This eating disorder is characterized by lack of appetite in the morning. NES sufferers can go several hours upon waking without having anything to eat. They have an ongoing, persistent pattern of overeating during the evening and throughout the night. Late-night binges mostly consist of consuming sugary or starchy carbohydrates. People with NES also demonstrate poor mental functioning during the day, due to insomnia, and they are often consumed with feelings of depression and anxiety. It is also likely for the person to feel upset, or become anxious, tense or guilty while they are eating.

  • slide 2 of 7

    Alternative Treatments for Night Eating Syndrome

    Since this eating disorder is fairly new, we are still exploring different alternative treatment methods that are believed to help. The following are some alternative therapies for night eating syndrome:-

  • slide 3 of 7

    Relaxation Therapy

    Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), guided imagery and deep muscle relaxation can greatly reduce the tension you carry in your body; your whole being will feel less stress. PMR with affirmative healing statements can reduce symptoms that are associated with night eating syndrome. Meditation can also help reduce stress and anxiety as well.

  • slide 4 of 7

    Natural Dietary Supplement Therapy

    • Lower levels of serotonin have been associated with increased feelings of hunger, insomnia and depression, which are symptomatic of NES patients. 5HTP is a natural plant extract that raises serotonin levels in the brain. Research suggests that good serotonin levels may reduce appetite thus they may help to lower the desire for NES patients snack throughout the night.

    • Tryptophan is readily found in health stores as a dietary supplement. This supplement is reportedly effective as a sleep aid, due to its ability to increase levels of both melatonin (a calming neurotransmitter in moderate levels) and serotonin (sleep-inducing hormone) in the brain. It has a similar effect to carbohydrate consumption. NES patients they tend to crave carbohydrates (high calorie, starchy foods) which increase serotonin levels and make them feel better.
  • slide 5 of 7

    Change your Eating Patterns

    • This method of structured nutritional meal planning can be considered one of the alternative therapies for night eating syndrome. When meals are planned, it reduces the urge to binge and purge.
    • Do not skip meals, eat breakfast even when you don’t feel like it. Make a commitment to change. Spread your caloric consumption evenly throughout the day to avoid feeling overly hungry.
    • Plan a healthy after dinner snack, for example you could eat a serving of whole grains after dinner; adequate intake of nutrition can prevent cravings and promote satiety.
  • slide 6 of 7

    Other alternative therapeutic methods that can help curb Night Eating:-

    • Brushing your teeth after dinner and after any snack
    • Freezing leftover dinner for lunch to avoid snacking on them later
    • Chewing on sugarless gum such as XyliChew Gum
    • Keeping your kitchen free of junk food. Make a grocery list of wholesome food choices and purchase them
    • Find other activities like drawing, reading, watching a movie, knitting, to keep your hands and mind preoccupied. Calling a friend and talking to someone can be an excellent way to reducing your stress levels.