Intuitive Eating Author Evelyn Tribole

As most of you know, I have been dabbling a bit with Intuitive Eating. I have found some parts of it that work rather well for me in my recovery from compulsive overeating. Listening to my hunger and satiety cues, instead of just eating on a timed schedule has been a big change in my life. Also giving thought to what I would really like to eat and not deeming foods to be forbidden have been two more big changes that I have made. These changes have been freeing for me.


I recently sent an email to the author “Intuitive Eating”, Evelyn Tribole, with a question I needed some clarification about. She was kind enough to respond to me and allowed me to post it on my blog.

Q. I’m trying to be an Intuitive Eater. But I’m not sure what to do when I get hungry at night. Around 9pm or so, about an hour before I go to bed, I feel hungry. Should I listen to my body and eat? Or is it smarter not to eat something so late at night?

A. Many people have the perception that eating past a certain time in the evening will cause weight gain. But that’s not true. Our bodies don’t punch time-clocks. For example, there is not a fat-making shift that begins at 7:00 p.m. Also, many cultures eat later in the evening, such as in Spain.

Mindless eating in the evening, while watching television or surfing the internet, however, could lead to overeating and weight gain. But the issue in this case is the mindless eating, not the time of night.

Becoming an Intuitive Eater is about being attuned to your body—hearing and responding to its biological cues of hunger and fullness. Generally, if you are biologically hungry, it’s a good idea to eat. There are a couple of ways you could explore you evening hunger.

Biological–Are you eating enough food throughout the day? If you eat on the lighter side—it’s possible to feel hungry later in the evening. I’d consider eating a light, but satisfying, snack (since it can feel uncomfortable trying to sleep on a full stomach).

Habit?—Is it possible you are in the habit of eating before bedtime? (I don’t get that impression from your email, but it’s a question worth exploring.) If eating a snack is part of your wind-down routine before going to bed, it seems that the night eating is more about desire and automatic habit, not biological hunger. If that’s the case, I’d suggest opting for a different relaxing routine—such as reading or taking a bath.

If you are not sure, you could also explore eating a light snack and take note of its effect on your sleeping or energy level in the morning. Or, if you opt to not eat, do you find yourself having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep (hunger can do that). Ultimately, every eating experience is an opportunity to learn something about your body.

Thanks so much, Evelyn!

To get more info about Intuitive Eating, please check out Evelyn’s website EvelynTribole.com or nutrition info 411

What do you do at night when you are hungry? Do you you tune into your body, eat regardless, or look at eating at night as forbidden?

One Day at a Time... Nurture myself... Awareness... Letting Go... Listen to my Body

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Comments

22 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. christie @ honoring health
    15 March 2010, 6:11 pm

    I do not think of food as forbidden. If I am hungry, I eat. Most nights, we eat dinner so late that a night time snack just isn’t necessary but if I stay up later than usual, I will eat. The mindless night time eating was a hard habit to break, and one I still sometimes struggle with.
    .-= christie @ honoring health´s last blog ..Goal Setting =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    good for you, christie! i love your confidence in listening to your body’s cues. i’m trying to get to where you are.

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  2. Jess
    15 March 2010, 6:11 pm

    Oh, that is wonderful! I really like how she made intuitive eating approachable to people like me, who just done innately have the cues. It’s like I should know this stuff, but I needed to hear it anyway because I didn’t know it!

    My normal is broken; I accept and admit that. These tips on consciously replicating eating patterns of normal, healthy eaters is fantastic. Like learning how to read and write and speak, we have a chance to internalize these lessons and make them part of a new way of living–of being actively involved in the maintenance of our own lives.

    Thanks for putting Ms. Tribole’s answer to you in this post. It gives me something to think about as I move forward in abstinence toward a life where I am not measuring and portioning and marking daily servings but thinking.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i feel the same as you, jess. i my normal is broken as well, and i own that. i’m trying to get back to the days when i was really young and ate intuitively, just listening to my body and what it tells me. i hope too to one day stop measuring and portioning. we are works in progress!

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  3. Kim
    15 March 2010, 6:18 pm

    Very cool that she responded to you! I remember liking that book when I read it.
    I eat almost half of my calories for the day after 7pm! I’m just relaxed at night, so I enjoy a big dinner and a snack a couple hours later. I’m not always hungry for the snack, but sometimes it just sounds good, and I know my body likes the calories anyway. I never really understood the “don’t eat after 7” rule. Like she says, our bodies don’t work on a time clock.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    every body has their own personal way of eating that works for them. it’s refreshing to hear that you enjoy a big dinner and even a snack later if you feel like it.

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  4. Lisa
    15 March 2010, 8:03 pm

    How cool is that…she responded to your email!! Thanks for posting it here. I do get stressed when I am hungry late at night. It’s hard to get rid of the diet mantra in my head that says…no eating late…blah blah blah….
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..I’m so EXHAUSTED!!!! =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i thought that was very ‘real’ of her to respond to me. she is quite nice!
    i kinda figured i wasn’t the only one wondering about night time eating. i think we all have it drilled into our heads that eating at night is bad.

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  5. Diana
    15 March 2010, 8:32 pm

    That is fabulous that she responded! How cool.
    I would love, love, love, love to be able to do intuitive eating (more than anyone knows). But, I just don’t think I can right now. I try…but, I’m not sure its meant for this compulsive eater until I deal with some of my issues.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    I totally hear you Diana, I’m the same way, taking baby steps into this process. One day I hope to be there and never have to weigh, measure and count calories. Right now I do the intuitive eating things that i can do, and the rest will fall into place when i’m ready.

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  6. Sagan
    15 March 2010, 11:33 pm

    Great question. I prefer not to eat anything later on in the evening because then I’m just wired and can’t fall asleep (like tonight, heh). But if I stop eating before about 6pm, then I start to get hungry by the time I go to bed and I might have difficulty sleeping BECAUSE I’m hungry. It’s a fine balance!
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..Disordered and Emotional Eating =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    stuck between a rock and a hard place. finding that delicate balance is hard!

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  7. Holly
    16 March 2010, 1:07 pm

    Wow – that is SO neat that she wrote you back!

    I try VERY hard to eat intuitively in the eating, since this is when I have trouble with mindless snacking (never during the day). I am not one of those people who likes to go to bed hungry OR overly full. There is definitely that happy balance. Actually, I can kind of tell if I’ve had enough food if I’m just a little hungry when I wake up. Generally, if I’m not, I maybe ate too much. And if I’m FAMISHED, I didn’t eat enough.

    I used to try hard not to eat late at night, but now I realize hey, if you’re hungry, you’re hungry! I just TRY to have it be something on the healthy side….otherwise my sweet tooth is activated!
    .-= Holly´s last blog ..I Would Do Anything For Love =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i had been holding back when i got hungry at night, worried that eating at night was “bad”.

    i have those mornings too when i’m famished when i wake up. i should probably keep a log of my hunger at night and how i feel in the morning, if i choose to et something or not. i will now allow myself something small and healthy at night if i feel hungry, but even that is taking a step.

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  8. Lara
    16 March 2010, 1:25 pm

    I have never had a “rule” about time of day (or night) and eating. I have always read and believed that it really makes no difference in terms of weight.
    Very cool that she responded. I am a huge fan.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i have read arguments for both, so i wanted to get ms. tribole’s opinion. and yes, she is pretty awesome.

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  9. Jody - Fit at52
    16 March 2010, 5:28 pm

    I am with Evelyn. I think the whole eating at night is more about people that mindless eat OR don’t eat during the day & way overeat at night. They consume way more calories than they realize. For me, I certainly don’t like eating alot at night & having it sit there in my stomach when I lie down to sleep.. feels UGH. BUT, I do plan for a small healthy snack every night if I want it & it is not always that 2-3 hours before bed like you here. We are all different so find what works for you!
    .-= Jody – Fit at52´s last blog ..A New Workout Option – Beaming =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    thanks for the reinforcement, jody. this issue had been troubling me for quite some time and i always erred on the side of not eating. now i know that it’s ok to have a small, healthy snack.

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  10. Cascia @ Healthy Moms
    16 March 2010, 10:33 pm

    That sounds like a great book.
    .-= Cascia @ Healthy Moms´s last blog ..The Yo Gabba, Gabbas =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    it was a good read and offered great info.

    [Reply]

  11. Bobbie @Anonymous Fat Girl
    20 March 2010, 7:48 am

    Night eating is a big problem for me and I really need to work on that. In the past I would just feed the urges. Now I’m more aware, but I think I need to fight the urge in general.
    .-= Bobbie @Anonymous Fat Girl´s last blog ..D.C. trip in a few weeks + childhood obesity & Mrs. Obama’s efforts =-.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    as always, it comes down to you figuring out what you are hungry for at that moment – food or something else. (look at me spouting out what i’ve learned!!!)

    [Reply]

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