Wind Down without Food

Many people come to me saying “I eat so well all day but then I snack so much at night”. This triggers a few immediate thoughts for me. The person is restricting their intake throughout the day and their primal urge of uncontrollable hunger sets in at night. The person is restricting their intake to only the foods they label as “good foods” throughout the day causing them to overindulge in or binge eat the foods they label as “bad foods” OR “good foods” at night as a result of them feeling extreme restriction or to reward themselves for how “good” they did all day. The person is using food to “wind down” for the day whether they are consciously or unconsciously doing so by seeking relaxation through food. Sometimes this person even eats less at dinner to save room for the foods they plan to eat at night because they habitually relax through mindless snacking.

FOOD IS MORE THAN FUEL and it should feel great to eat! Every time we eat it should be positive experience whether it be a salad or cheese fries! To completely disassociate any pleasure with food is a miserable way to live. However, ignoring true hunger and fullness cues and lacking in the development of your satisfaction factor can lead to a lot struggles surrounding food. Over-restriction and struggling to make peace with food are complex, individualized topics that require more time and information to properly address than I can provide in a blog post.  If the people described above sound anything like you send me an inquiry for help! Not there yet? Read about some ways to wind down, relax, and end your day in ways that aren’t food dependent.  

Take a break from your phone and screens for at least a half hour before bed

Write down what’s worrying you about the next day earlier in the day and what you’re doing to manage it


Listen to music

Read for 15-30 minutes

Drink a cup of tea

Journal / Gratitude Journal / Anxiety Journal

Play an instrument


Go on a walk



Work on a craft or puzzle

Use a massage gun or foam roller relieve tension

Add candles,  essential oil diffusers, incense to all of the above!

I am not preaching that you cannot have dessert or a snack at night however there is a big difference between doing this mindfully and feeling positive afterwards and doing this unconsciously and having negative or ruminating thoughts afterwards. So ask yourself, do you lose yourself in food or are you present? Are you restricting intake to lose control later? Has this stopped you from making progress and feeling free from the power of our food choices in the past or currently? Do you want to know how all of your favorite foods can still exist in a balanced diet? Contact me!

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If you have a health or performance related goal or concern that could better be reached or clarified with expert nutrition guidance from a registered dietitian nutritionist you are a candidate for nutrition consultant services. Karly Rae, RDN Nutrition & Dietetics curates individualized plans led by evidence-based-research.

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