2 SURPRISING Triggers Why You Binge at Night (Explained by a Dietitian)

why you binge at night, binge dietitian

Hey there! If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve struggled with late-night binging. Trust me, I’ve been there too. Let’s work together to the two surprising triggers that might be causing your late-night munchies. So grab a snack and let’s dive right in!

1. Physical Restriction

fat is not a feeling, binge dietitian

Imagine this scenario: You’ve been following a strict diet all day, counting every calorie and restricting yourself from your favourite foods. By the time evening rolls around, you’re feeling deprived and unsatisfied. Suddenly, the allure of those forbidden treats becomes too hard to resist, and you find yourself knee-deep in a late-night binge.

Physical restriction is a surprising trigger for late-night binging. When we deprive ourselves of certain foods or severely restrict our calorie intake, it creates a sense of scarcity and heightened desire for those forbidden delights.

Practical Tip: Instead of going for strict diets that leave you feeling deprived, let’s focus on creating a balanced and sustainable approach to eating. Here’s how you can break free from physical restrictions:

  • Include all food groups: Embrace a diet that includes a variety of foods from different food groups. Restricting yourself from certain foods only intensifies cravings and can lead to overindulgence later on.
  • Practice portion control: Rather than completely cutting out your favourite treats, practice portion control. Allow yourself to enjoy those foods in moderation, savouring every bite without guilt or judgment.
  • Listen to your body: Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues. Eat when you’re genuinely hungry and stop when you’re comfortably satisfied. By honoring your body’s needs, you can avoid the feeling of deprivation that often triggers late-night binging.

Remember, it’s all about finding balance and nourishing your body in a way that feels sustainable and satisfying.

2. Mental Restriction: Breaking Free From the Dieting Mindset

what does normal look like

Now, let’s talk about another surprising trigger for late-night binging: mental restriction. This happens when we constantly label foods as “good” or “bad,” creating a restrictive mindset around eating. When we categorise foods in this way, it leads to guilt and shame when we indulge in the so-called “bad” foods, ultimately triggering late-night binging episodes.

Mental restriction keeps us trapped in a cycle of rigid rules and all-or-nothing thinking. But the good news is, we can break free from this mindset and develop a healthier relationship with food.

Practical Tip: It’s time to ditch the dieting mindset and cultivate a positive approach to eating. Here’s how you can overcome mental restriction:

  • Practice food neutrality: Rather than labelling foods as “good” or “bad,” try adopting a neutral stance. All foods have a place in a balanced diet, and no single food should hold power over your emotions or self-worth.
  • Focus on nourishment: Shift your mindset from restriction to nourishment. Instead of fixating on calories or restrictive rules, prioritise feeding your body with foods that provide essential nutrients and support your overall well-being.
  • Practice intuitive eating: Tune in to your body’s cues and honour your cravings in a mindful way. Trust your body’s wisdom and give yourself permission to enjoy a variety of foods without judgment.

By releasing the mental restrictions and embracing a positive and intuitive approach to eating, you can break free from the late-night binging cycle and develop a healthier relationship with food and your body.

Remember, it’s a journey, and progress takes time. Be patient and kind to yourself as you navigate this process of finding balance and healing your relationship with food. You’ve got this!


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How to End Binge Urges (Without Cutting Out Foods You Love)

how to end binge urges

Let’s take a quick test to find out if you struggle with binge episodes:

Do you:

– Eat when you’re not hungry?

– Eat very fast during a binge?

– Eat alone or secretly?

– Feel depressed, guilty, ashamed or disgusted with yourself after binge eating?

Then you may be struggling with binge episodes but these cannot be solved with any diet or with willpower as most people suggest.

Let me tell you why:

how to end binge urges

Because… Binge eating is not the main problem – it is the symptom of a greater problem

That problem is: Deprivation. Let me explain…

You may have heard that the secret to how to stop binge eating is “willpower.” 

You could never binge again if you simply tried more, worked smarter, and genuinely adhered to your guns more. 

what does normal look like

You could resist the impulse to binge for a long time, and if you did so long enough, you wouldn’t binge again.

But that isn’t how it works in reality. Because binge eating is a survival response. 

Your survival urges can override your willpower no matter how hard you fight against it.

how to end binge urges

Think about the pre-historic eras. Cavemen essentially “binged”. They didn’t have fridges or freezers to store food. 

So they’d wake up with no food, may have a few seeds and berries for lunch, then fight a massive mammoth to over eat on it, only to start again tomorrow.

how to end binge urges

This is why you often feel a rush of adrenaline after a binge eating episode to finish the food as fast as possible…

– almost mindlessly because it was a survival response, not a meal to relaxingly eat

The 3 Main Triggers of Binge Eating

  1. Physical Restriction

How to End Binge Urges (Without Cutting Out Foods You Love)

If we do not eat, we get hungry, and to a certain point if we get very very hungry then our body ramps up those hunger cues (ghrelin, the hunger hormone) and we start to have a binge eating episode. 

Quite straightforward, being hungry = binge

But even though you might have felt you’ve eaten 5,000 calories during your last binge, you will still feel hungry the next day. 

how to end binge urges

Your body runs on at least 2000 calories a day, if you under ate on 1000 calories the past 3 days, your body will find a way to compensate for it (actually over-compensate which is why you may gain weight despite under eating)  

Just how anyone at any bodyweight can feel hunger (underweight or obese categories), anyone can experience deprivation no matter how much you ate the day before

When we ignore our hunger cues (internal cues) and focus on how much or when we should eat based on a calorie limit (external cues) can reduce our ‘interoceptive awareness’

how to end binge urges

Interoceptive awareness is our ability to listen to our body and be more mindful of our internal cues.

Someone with a high level of interoceptive awareness can hear their stomach rumbling, a feeling of being tired when they haven’t eaten, or feeling thirst. 

Which is why when we binge eat, we eat food mindlessly and feel like autopilot because we cannot sense fullness properly. 

how to end binge urges

Problems Physical Restriction Can Lead to

  • Extreme hunger later in the day out of nowhere
  • Dysregulated hunger cues (cannot sense what “normal” hunger and fullness feels like)
  • Reduction in our sense of ‘interoceptive awareness’ (ability to sense fullness and enjoyment)


  • Introduce ‘Mechanical Eating’ which is eating 3 main meals a day and 2-3 snacks in between. So this would look like breakfast, mid morning snack, lunch, mid afternoon snack, and dinner, (with a possible evening snack). 
  • Mechanical eating re-trains your hunger cues that these times are when we should feel hungry (in small amounts) rather than surprising you with hunger from 0 straight to 100 in the evening.
  • Include protein, fats, carbs, and fibre into each meal. Coffee is not a breakfast, granola with Greek yogurt and seeds is a balanced breakfast. Incorporating protein, fats, and carbs will signal satiety to your brain and fibre will keep your blood sugars stable to reduce cravings
  • Aim to find that 7 out of 10 in the hunger scale. 0 being nauseously full, and 10 being sickly ‘Christmas dinner’ full. Be 7 out of 10. So in breakfast, you may be 3 out of 10, after breakfast you’ll be 7 out of 10…and so on. Keeping this scale close to 7 out of 10 will re-restore your hunger cues to understand what comfortable fullness is

Remember that binge eating is not the main problem, it is a symptom of your body’s survival response to deprivation. 

After a binge, you deprive your body keeping it in a survival response. Simply having breakfast again alone can cut that survival response. 

Remember the key is to eat regular meals CONSISTENTLY.


  1. Mental Restriction

how to end binge urges

Being full is one thing but being satisfied is a completely different thing. 

We can eat regular meals but we can still have binge episodes if we don’t feel satisfied. 

If you’re eating a plain, bland salad with boiled chicken, you can be full but you won’t be satisfied so you’ll head straight to the box of cookies.

Cutting out foods you love is causing psychological hunger/lack of satisfaction. There’s a difference between being FULL & SATISFIED

You feel that you can’t control yourself when in reality, you’re just physically hungry AND not satisfied which is why you start a binge episode.

how to end binge urges

Problem Mental Restriction Can Lead to:

  • Binge eating despite eating regular meals consistently
  • Emergence of your favourite foods turning into “Forbidden Foods”


  • Re-introduce the “Forbidden foods” into your diet. Remember that if you’re keeping yourself a 7 out of 10 full, you won’t overeat these foods. If you feel this may be scary, then add that cookie as a dessert after your main meal to start to build trust and feel safe around that food that you won’t over-eat.
  • If you introduce “Forbidden foods” back into your diet, they lose their meaning and definition. Forbidden foods will transform into neutral foods. We only fear them because we feel they will trigger binges but it was our deprivation triggering binges
  • Remember that foods contain nostalgic memories and can help improve our mental health
  1. All-or-nothing Mindset

How to End Binge Urges (Without Cutting Out Foods You Love)

Do you call foods good or bad?

Calling foods good or bad, angelic or sinful, clean or junk…can make our self-esteem very fragile.

When we eat a ‘bad’ food, we feel that we are worthless and lazy leading to a ‘what’s the point mindset’ then you start binge eating.

how to end binge urges

Problems All-or-nothing Mindset Can Lead to:

  • Poor self-esteem
  • Poor mental health
  • Increased urges to binge


  • Remember that food is not good nor bad. Food is neutral. Avoid adding morality to food because there’s so much nuance to them. 
  • Broccoli, a ‘good’ food could be something someone struggling with IBS should limit or avoid because it can exacerbate bloating symptoms, but pizza, a ‘bad’ food can on the other hand can be beneficial to maintain someone with cancer’s weight who is struggling with a metallic taste, nausea, and no appetite.
  • Your worth is found in your values not on what you eat. You are NOT what you eat.  

Exclusive Mini-Course Below!

This was a summary of 1 of the 6 videos of my full course called “Normal Eater Blueprint”

Access 6 In-depth Videos on uncovering how to put an end to binge eating and to be a “Normal Eater”.  👇

  1. Are you a “Normal Eater” TEST?
  2. How to Practice Mindful Eating and Awareness (The Easy Way)
  3. Understanding Binge Triggers and How to Overcome Them (Without Cutting Out the Foods You Love)
  4. Understanding and How to Overcome Emotional Eating (Without Ignoring Your Emotions)
  5. How to Start Building Skills for Self-Compassion and Acceptance Towards Binge Eating Recovery (The Non-Stressful way)
  6. 4 Distress Tolerance Skills to Use Before and After Binges (Practical Skills to Use Today)