Late night snacking

Anyone struggle with late night snacking? I have been improving my control, but the biggest hurdle is late night cravings. I try to not eat after dinner, and if I do I try to count accurately and prebolus but I keep going back for more and then it’s just all stacking and I lose count and I go to sleep high. It’s so annoying being my own worst enemy and so self destructive with food!!

Have you had any success with changing this behaviour? Are there doctors who could help?

I struggle with this as well. The late-night snacks are a killer for your morning blood sugar. Keep in mind that your basal insulin is probably lower at this time and your activity is lower as well. Blood glucose may be high when you go to sleep but drop more as you are sleeping due to stacking or remain high and go higher with morning blood glucose rise. Try tea (decaf) or a few pieces of sugarless gum or maybe a very low carb, no fat item if possible. This is a situation where you have to decide if you want better control or snacks.

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I struggle with this, too, and have a few random ideas.

What do you typically eat for the last meal of the day when you end up over-indulging?

What snacks do you favor? Are they salty ones? If so, you could try dissolving some sea salt on your tongue and see if that might take the edge off of your appetite.

What activity do you do when snacking? If TV or other screen, perhaps you should try changing it up and doing something else, like light exercise, a phone call to a friend or some relaxation (mindfulness) exercises.

You could also take up a craft that uses your hands continuously and would make snacking inconvenient.

I find that drinking water dampens my appetite. Sparkling water with a twist of lime might be enough to quell your appetite.

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When I do indulge, I usually go to bed high, then have a low around 3am because of the stacking. When I don’t binge, my basal is set perfectly, and I need almost no insulin from about 3am-6am (less than 1/2 a unit). I agree it comes down to me and making that choice, but I just seem to stick to it by white-knuckling and then eventually binge and “fall off the wagon”. It’s almost (from my understanding) like alcoholic behavior (from what I’ve experienced, as I dated an alcoholic for a couple years), it must be some kind of food addiction or disordered eating, because I have this almost un-fillable need to eat every taste I want (ie: sometimes as bad as icing, pasta, sushi, chips). It’s embarrassing to even write this down, but I want to stop and maybe someone here can help in some way or has an idea that will resonate with me. I’ve tried consulting a counsellor, but the ones I’ve seen don’t have any experience with disordered eating in a T1D specifically. I’ve had the suggestion of don’t focus so much on food…well…that is not possible. Add to this I’m very, very focused on maintaining a low body weight. I don’t think I have any specific category of disordered eating, but I’m almost scared I’m headed towards an eating disorder. I definitely am afraid of taking too much insulin both fearing hypos and weight gain. I know it’s the behavior and habit I need to change.

I like the salt idea, I’ll try that.

I definitely don’t have an issue when I’m busy doing something, but with isolation there’s only so much activity I can come up with. I can’t really go out that much and I work from home so I’m alone ALL THE TIME. It gets boring. I go for walks, work out, read, paint, knit, but at a certain point, I’m bored and then use food as entertainment, which is what I need to stop doing.

Also, I use the term “binge” but I don’t know if I fall accurately in that category, like if there is a certain amount of calories that constitute a “binge”, as I certainly don’t go as hard as some of the folks I’ve read about, but I think it’s along those lines of what I do. I just bought this book Brain over Binge or something like that that I am hoping will help.

We are all different, but here are a couple of ideas.

Pure protein. While this can still raise BG levels, it’s usually delayed so it would be after you are asleep so you wouldn’t have to worry about stacking. If I get hungry in the evening, I reach for just plain fake hot dogs, maybe with catsup or fake bacon etc as I’m a vegan. If you make yourself wait 30-60 minutes after you have eaten something like that, you might find you’re not hungry anymore???

Sometimes when food is an issue, it’s best not to eat at all because once you start you can’t stop? It might be aggravating and you might not feel good for a few days, but sometimes it’s breaking a behavior or pattern that’s needed. Although behavior changes I think take 2-3 weeks?

Higher fat meal with dinner? More protein??? Sometimes those leave you feeling fuller and it might help break the pattern.

When I decided to cut back on food as I was gaining weight when I first started insulin years ago … The first thing I aimed at was “dinner”. I didn’t get home until 9 at night, so it was late night eating. I started first switching to a huge bowl of homemade vegetable soup with chunky lower carb vegetables, so it didn’t require a lot of insulin. This is as easy as water, throw in some carrots, but lots celery, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower etc and some tomatoes, or tomato sauce. Then I slowly decreased how much over time… Until I was happy with just a tangerine or apple at night and then I mostly stopped everything after a while, but if I felt hungry I still had an apple or tangerine etc. In essence I weaned myself off bigger amounts of food. I’m just saying the dinner thing because maybe you can apply it to your snack. This is the meal/snack I will eat if I get hungry. Anything else I will have tomorrow with breakfast or lunch??? Popcorn, bowl of veggies or soup etc might work for this

We are in this for the long haul and sometimes it takes time to adjust. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up, just try to slowly change the behavior? Each day is a new day.

Good luck, I hope you find a solution that helps!!!

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Thank you for your thoughtful response! I think I may be in that boat where nothing at all would be easier than moderation. I’ve got a protein heavy dinner scheduled for tonight, and I’m going to make myself go “cold turkey” and eat nothing afterwards. I’m also tracking my calories to make sure they are enough so I know anything over would be unnecessary overeating and not actual hunger. I’m only going to do this for a bit, as calorie counting puts extra pressure on me too (like any hyper focus on food seems to do!).

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Strategies that I think can help, but since I don’t suffer from binging, or even hunger much, just boredom eating at worst, I don’t know how much I can help, but…

  • Engagement - If you are alone at night, find someone or something to engage, that holds your attention. For years, whenever I found something that made me forget to eat, I would do that. The intense focus was what I wanted, not eating was just a sign.

  • Snack on purpose - Decide to have a particular snack before bed. Jane Brody, well-known health columnist, when she was dieting, resolved to give herself a cup of ice cream each night. No matter how much she cut during the day, she was always allowed herself the end-of-day ice cream. For me, it is a pint of Halo Top Peanut ButterIce Cream, either that or Candy Bar, Chocolate, or Mocha, and although 330 calories, within my overall diet.

  • Substitute - Replace good with bad, so for me, I share with my spouse several cut fruit - pears and apples are in season - or a bowl of organic, pitted cherries (frozen), along with a half a glass of wine, or maybe an aperitif.

  • Fitness - Intense exercise suppresses appetite, so working out in the early evening might stave the hunger off.

  • BG Control - If your BG control is off, it can negatively affect your diet and habits.

  • Sleep - Lack fo sleep affects what and how much people eat. Lack of sleep can lead to bad eating.

I hope it helps, if not you, maybe someone else.

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Thank you! I will try the fitness at night and sleep is a constant battle, so I’m going to actively try and address that. Portion control and ice cream has never worked for me lol but like you said, some of these tips might be spot on for someone else! Much appreciation:)

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I was disciplined last night and had 3 lows, but way better numbers overall! I was so close to binging and thought about how it would be easier to not eat anything else rather than get started with “just a few squares of chocolate” which undoubtedly would have turned into the whole bar and then who knows.

I made a pot of tea after eating and kept drinking it until bed.

Happy to be back on track and now that I’ve started it’s just staying the course!

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So many of us have this problem. The folks at TCOYD call it the “werewolf syndrome”.
I did learn that I have to bolus for snacks otherwise overnight is horrible.
But I have started emailing family or friends at night. And I let them know that nighttime emails do not require a reply as I am just passing time. Kind of a what I did today note. I guess I could send it to myself. But I find it keeps my hands busy while I watch my favorite shows. If my hands are busy, I don’t want or need to eat. I also work on a hooked rug some nights.

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I have the same problem. I can eat more carbs after dinner than all the rest of the day. I use water as a go-to, and keep a fresh glass of water beside me with ice. Or, i go upstairs and watch TV, away from the kitchen and the fridge. And it takes a lot of determination. I find that once i master it for a few nights, it becomes easier after that.

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A recent article om food addiction point to part of the reason behind addiction and/or binging, the type of food one eats. It might take awhile to move away from the kinds of unhealthy, refined foods that are causing problems.

Are Some Foods Addictive? - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

The test mentioned in the article is the Yale Food Addition Scale, and this is the only online version I could find:

Food Addiction Test (idrlabs.com)

I know that by now, after years of refining how I eat, I would not test as addicted, but it has taken awhile to go from my meat and potatoes youth to a healthy, well-rounded diet. Even then, it is not perfect, as I do use flavorings, pepper spread, MSG, and mustard, to make vegetables appealing and tolerable.

My result:

My food addiction symptoms are non-existent. Food Addiction Test via @idr_labs

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I got: Strong Indication of Food Dependence.