It is the first time I decide to write about my night eating syndrome battle that impacted my life for more than 8 years. I had no problem talking about my anorexia but I kept my uncontrollable binge eating at night secret because I was so ashamed. Only my husband knew about it.
How did it all start?
I was suffering from anorexia when my night eating syndrome kicked in. It started with one night, then two, then three, then almost every night. I didn’t understand what was happening. It was so freaking scary to wake up in the morning and find empty jars of mayo, empty mackerel cans, empty soy butter packs and more and more on the countertop. I could barely recall what happened in the middle of the night. What I struggled to understand was my inability to avoid ending-up in the kitchen, devouring the most fatty foods you can find in a fridge or a pantry.
The reasons stayed unknown for so long.
I didn’t even know it was called night eating syndrome, I didn’t even know it was a recognized eating disorder. My identified eating disorder was anorexia at that time and it felt already hard enough to deal with it that I could not even imagine adding another layer on top of it…
I thought for a while that my crazy caterer schedules were responsible for my urges to eat at night. I have to say that my eating and sleeping schedules were pretty messed up the days of the events. I desperately tried to find a cause to all this, I thought that figuring out the reason would help me get rid of the issue all at once. I quickly realized that the catering events and crazy schedules had nothing to do with the binge eating at night. Maybe they were the trigger? Maybe my binges at night would stop if I changed job? I was trying to find quick fixes and reasons outside of myself.
Night eating syndrome: what a smart strategy!
Wow, how smart is the body! These were the years when my weight was at my lowest, I was weighing 42 kilos. I guess I was starving myself but I don’t really recall being actually physically hungry all day. Some memories are blurry and some are very vivid like the desperate feeling in the morning at the sight of the empty jars and cans, the loneliness, the inability to control myself during the night.
Going back to the smart strategy, I was too stupid and blind to realize my body was lacking so many nutrients and fats that my night eating syndrome was the only way for my body to get what it needed to survive. I wish I understood this at that time, I could have been thankful for this loving body instead of cursing it and spending days blaming and hating myself.
The infernal spiral of anorexia and binge eating at night.
Needless to say that the stronger the night binges were, the stronger the restrictions the following day. An infernal spiral that totally controlled me and that I was unconsciously “feeding” every single day. The shame added to the turmoil, I just didn’t know what to do. Behind a fake smile at my catering events and with my friends and family were feelings of loneliness and depression.
A few moments of relief in my night eating syndrome battle.
I had very few moments of relief and I cherished them so much. When we were traveling and spending nights in hotels, it was sleeping through the night like a baby. They were like victories, they gave me the impression I finally healed but the wonderful feeling quickly disappeared when we were back home. My sweet husband accepted my crazy ideas of installing a locker on the door and hiding the key. I am laughing at the situation today but it was terribly sad and dramatic. It worked for a while until I begged him in the middle of the night to open the door promising it would be the last night it would happen.
How did I stop night eating syndrome?
It didn’t happen overnight but once the process started, it all unfolded naturally.
In my blog INTUITIVE EATING: A HOW-TO, I talked about my wake-up call when I observed my son Alexandre being so connected to his hunger and fullness cues. I realized it was time for me to reconnect instead of spending the rest of my life under the grip of both night eating syndrome and anorexia. I made a conscious choice that day, the conscious choice to start living and stop surviving. Years of therapy brought me to that point but I needed a trigger, a wake-up call. Isn’t it said that children are our own Buddha?
Here are the steps that helped me heal from night eating syndrome
- I decided to accept and embrace my emotions instead of controlling them
- I decided to let go of the control, the control of everything
- I decided to let go of perfection
- I accepted that I was good enough
- I understood that the more I could let go, the less control the eating disorders were having on me
- I decided to face and win against the fear of adding more fats to my diet
- I decided to accept I was not seeing myself correctly
- I decided to reconnect with my hunger and fullness cues by practicing mindful eating at EACH meal (Mindful eating blog-to-come)
- I decided to respect my body instead of mistreating it so badly
- I quickly realized that feeding my body with all the nutrients (mainly fats) it needed during the day prevented binge eating at night
- I started to appreciate my new shapes and the folds on my belly when I was sitting down (it might sound strange to you but they were like victories to me)
- I celebrated every small victory, EVERY DAY
- I decided to gain back my power over food and my life
Fast forward… My mission today
I am an eating psychology expert and I decided to gather everything that worked for all my patients and for me to create a program, the HAPPY SPOON PROGRAM. The program is already helping hundreds of people around the world but I want to have a bigger impact knowing how terrible those night eating syndrome and binge eating at night struggles are.
I want to help you, your friends, your family, anyone you know who experience the same battles to finding food freedom for good and live their lives to the fullest.