How To Stop Overeating At Night

Perhaps you find the start of your day runs pretty smoothly, in terms of making healthy choices, and controlling portion sizes. But, it’s later in the evening, when you start to feel like things are going downhill, and you begin to crave “unhealthy” foods.

What is the solution to this extremely common problem?

You may be surprised that it’s often a matter of eating more throughout the day, rather than blaming it on your “non-existent” willing power.


I find that when people believe they’ve had a bad day, they resolve that “tomorrow” they will curb their calorie intake by skipping breakfast, and eating very little for lunch and dinner.

These actions backfire, however, and it is much more likely to lead to extreme hunger later in the day, overeating, and more feelings of quilt and hopelessness.

How To Stop Overeating

1. Calculate Your Energy Requirements

I am not a huge fan of counting calories day in day out.

However, as a one-off, it can be very useful to work out roughly how many calories you need each day, then calculate a normal days food intake. That will help you to see clearly how you are meeting your energy requirements.

If you are consistently eating less than your body needs, that will be a major reason for overeating later in the day. Your body is simply craving more calories, but you are mistaking this for a lack of willpower.

You can use this BMR Calculator to work out how many calories are needed each day. And, then use Calorie Count, to estimate your daily calorie intake, and also check if you are missing out on any important nutrients, such as protein, calcium, or iron, etc.

Once you see how things really are for you, you will have a clearer idea of what you need to do to make it better.

2. Eat Regularly

This is advice you’ve heard before — but it is so important.

You must eat at regular times, to avoid that extreme hunger, which leads to overeating. This is your first line of defence against overdoing things, and for many of you, it is all you need to do to get this under control.

If you find you aren’t hungry when you wake up, that may be a clue you are overeating late at night.

What you need to do is avoid eating two to three hours before you go to bed. You should then be hungry first thing in the morning, and ready for a healthy breakfast.

Under no circumstances should you skip breakfast, lunch or dinner. That is absolutely essential to your well being, the normal functioning of your body, and to strengthen your ability to avoid overeating at night.

3. Focus On A Healthy Diet

Lean protein sources are extremely important for making you feel more satisfied, and therefore fuller for longer.

Try to eat a little protein with each meal and snack. For example, eggs for breakfast, legume soup at lunch, salmon at dinner, with snacks of nuts, vegetables and hummus, and yogurt or cottage cheese, etc.

Whole grains, like oatmeal and brown rice, are also important. Try to eat lots of vegetables, particularly leafy greens, and a little fruit each day. Also, don’t forget to drink lots of water.

When your diet is mostly healthy, i.e. you avoid soft drinks, highly processed and fast foods, you will find your cravings for these types of foods eventually disappears.

Cutting these foods and drinks from your diet will allow your taste buds to re-adjust, and help you to get a grip on food cravings.

So, what are your tips on how to stop overeating at night?

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About Melanie
Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Shweta May 1, 2011 at 11:03 am

Melanie, great post. You have listed down the information with great simplicity. I think fiber-rich foods benefit a lot especially since they are low in calories and helpful for easy satiety.


Melanie May 10, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Thank you Shweta.


TheGourmetCoffeeGuy May 2, 2011 at 5:04 am

Great post with extremely useful advice that is easy to follow. Your post covers a very important topic: going back to the basics is so important for long-term good health. Thank you for sharing your insights.


penny July 2, 2011 at 10:01 am

hello Melanie,

i would like to ask your advice regarding one of the tips you have given above. it’s something i’ve really heard and read about so many times now… to eat regularly.

now, for decades i have been following the one or other diet regimen with little success and a lot of frustration, until one day i decided to make some radical changes. since then i have been trying to get in touch with my natural hunger cues again and after a very tough start i got better and better at it. these days i only eat when i am actually hungry, regardless of the time of the day. this means i hardly ever eat breakfast (unless you consider a big milk coffee breakfast). in extreme this can also mean that i only start eating at 1pm and have a last snack shortly before going to bed. but it also happens that i eat most of my daily intake between 10am and 16 pm…. although i eat healthy food, the one thing i definitely miss is a regular schedule. however, for the first time in my life i feel happy, healthy and in sync with my body and have finally gotten rid of any sort of cravings and obsessions with food… should i really change this for the sake of a regular meal plan?



Melanie July 27, 2011 at 8:44 am

Hi Penny,
That’s very interesting. Do you find your weight is stable (or are you losing?) with this eating pattern? The theory goes that a regular eating pattern boosts your metabolism, but everyone is so incredibly different, I would be dubious of saying you should change what you are doing if it really is working this well for you. Perhaps a small handful of unsalted nuts or some natural yogurt would be a good idea for a very light breakfast.


penny August 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm

hi Melanie,

when i began eating this way i first lost some weight because i finally lost my cravings and got out of the terrible cycle of binging and restricting. now i’m pretty much maintaining an ideal weight with a couple of fluctuations due to seasons… i have heard about the metabolism boosting theory, but i find it hard to believe that our metabolisms should react within the short timeframe of one day. does it really make a difference how many meals you eat if given you stick to the same calorie amount?

thank you for your reply :)


Melanie August 8, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Hi Penny,
I think the idea is to eat slightly more than your normal calorie intake for at least one meal. Although for me I think, the biggest benefit that comes from the day off is psychological. Good for you to be maintaining your idea weight, that’s really great!


James November 20, 2011 at 10:47 am

Great post on a great website. I have a friend who wakes up at night to eat. It does so at times two to three times a night and initially it looks strange to me. He said he gets hungry at night. I have advised him on what to do which have reduce it. Your information; I will add to it. Thanks!


Melanie December 2, 2011 at 10:11 am

Hi James, that’s great news. I’m so glad the info has been useful :-)


lesa July 30, 2012 at 10:08 pm

hi im worried i have adrenal fatigue and that is leading me to overeat i have had a thyroid function test and it was within normal range, I desperatley want to lose 10kg and live my best life, but feel stuck. any advice or help you cud offer me wud be awsum. thanks.


Melanie July 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Hi Lesa,
It’s difficult to offer you personalized advice, but have you got my free ebook on weight loss? You can download it here:


Holly February 3, 2013 at 4:13 am


Your article was very helpful. I suffered from anorexia a year ago and stumbled into binge eating because my body has gone into “survival mode” in order to recover from my anorexia. I was 99 pounds at my lowest (I’m 5ft6″) and now, because of my extreme binge eating that I can’t seem to control, I’ve gotten up to 145 pounds. I would REALLY like to get down to a comfortable 125 pounds and keep it there. The problem is, I can’t seem to stop overeating at night. I calorie count and seem to have perfect control of my portions up until an hour or so after dinner. Then I tend to go crazy and eat tons of sugary foods! This leads me to feeling bloated and uncomfortable all though the next day. How can I stop this habit? It’s getting to ruin my life and cause me to be sluggish and depressed.

Thank you,


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