Is eating at night bad for your health?

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Getting out of your cozy bed for a snack at night has happened to most people. However, if these little nighttime cravings occur too often, it could be a particular disorder: nocturnal binge eating.

An eating disorder

A piece of bread with cheese, a piece of brioche with chocolate or even a few cookies … the choice can be quickly made when it comes to getting out of bed at night in order to satisfy a little hunger that can happen from time to time to anyone. On the other hand, care must be taken that this does not happen too often. In an article published on April 14, 2021 by Doctissimo, the dietician-nutritionist Véronique Liesse is categorical. If an individual gets up often during the night to snack, it may be nocturnal binge eating (or nocturnal bulimia).

This eating disorder (ADD) is characterized by a strong urge to get up at night to eat, sometimes even without real hunger. The specialist recalls that it is really a question of nocturnal bulimia if the cravings appear more than twice a week for at least six months. In addition, this TCA concerns both men and women.

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A real vicious circle

There are several reasons for getting up at night to eat. The individual may have lacked food intake during the day. As a result, his organism has hypoglycemia and does not hesitate to claim. There is absolutely nothing pathological about it. Another example is food frustration. Some people indeed strictly control their diet during the day. At night, they therefore “crack” and eat all types of food, even those that they don’t want during the day (too fatty or too sweet). This letting go after deprivation reinforces the feeling of wanting to control oneself during the day, so that a real vicious circle gets ready. Nighttime binge eating can also result from a strong sense of stress, anxiety or depression. In this case, the foods that the individual chooses are comforting, for example candies, chocolate and cakes.

Unfortunately, nocturnal binge eating causes weight gain. This is because nighttime food intake is not spent, in the absence of activity. What’s more, the foods that satisfy those nighttime cravings are often real calorie bombs. A 2017 study had discovered that to feed around 3 a.m. (at the time of peak melatonin production) promoted fat storage.

As a reminder, TCA such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia or overeating affect 5 to 10% of the population.

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