Why do things go downhill in the evenings?

I have about 21 lbs to lose to get back to the size 10/12 I have been my whole adult life, but last 3 years I've got into some real bad habits...at night only! I eat well throughout the day, generally cook a healthy dinner (I love cooking and love healthy food) and I'll even go for a swim after. Then I come home, plonk on the couch and turn into a potato! I just want to nibble all night till bedtime and I have no idea why. I don't have the urge to snack throughout the day. I go swimming to try and 'fill' the evening and for exercise, but I can start snacking after from 9.30pm onwards. I do actually get hungry though, whether I swim or not. I can't go to bed before midnight as I can't fall asleep otherwise I would go at 10!. My age is maybe against me now (at 56) as I've read your body does change and you do store more fat when you get into the 50's age group? When I look around I would say more than 50% of over 50 year olds are quite overweight. I would like to know is this nibbling just a habitual thing with me or could it be a chemical change in the body after menopause?


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39 Replies

  • I found I was doing the same active during the day then at night sitting in front of the tv snacking ...and more snacks..so ive decided to eat more during the day..and less at night..I found that helps...

  • i think it could just be a habbit. after a long day who wants to cook. make something the night before that way u will have it for the next day.

  • Give yourself an eating window and try and stick to the cut off time. Just a suggestion. Good luck.

  • I find boredom is to blame for the hunger pains. If you do something a little more consuming, it might help. Knitting or another handicraft could be diverting enough to avoid the boredom munchies...?

  • YES, I know exactly what you mean, my down fall has been evenings when I would just graze all night, and did not know why, so started thinking about what I was doing (in between pushing food into my mouth) and noticed if I was watching something really interesting on TV or reading a really interesting book, I ate less, in fact forgot about food, but nights when i was channel surfing to be entertained, and bored because nothing was worth watching, I would get up and look for food to eat, and anything would do as long as it was sweet, fat and lots of it.

    So then I realised I was an emotional type eater, if I'm depressed I want ice cream, if I am bored I want chocolate, in fact I don't have to have a reason to want them.....but then I found this nhs site and the 12 week challenge, and have started counting calories, writing down what I eat and following the 12 week challenge plan. Well it is amazing, because I eat better protein for breakfast and lunch and good food for dinner, and also being aware of the calories in food, I have stopped being an 'all night feeder'.

    I put this down to two reasons, first the 12 week challenge makes it fun and clear what food is and how to plan for eating meals etc, secondly through the 12 week challenge I found the forum and find people have all so many of the same experiences, so I feel like 'normal' going through what I am going through to lose weight and get fit.

    Maybe more protein during the day will give you all the nutrients your body needs, then at night, just have some fruit, drink tea and water???? just an idea.

    But good luck, let me know how you go, I am not on week two of the 12 week challenge and have not 'night grazed' since I started

  • Thanks DoniMac, good advice! I just started yesterday what your'e doing!!...I printed out the NHS work sheets but I'm actually doing a 'lean & green' eating pattern (hate the word diet!) for week 1. . All protein, no carbs or fats and then week 2 I'll slowly introducing pulses, brown (or even black) rice, porridge etc but still counting calories. I was soooo hungry last night after my swim (having had steamed salmon fillet, spinach and broccoli for dinner hours earlier) so I made a bouillon from veg, stock cubes, bayleaf, curry spice and chilli and sipped on that (almost zero calories). It worked so far. I can have chocolate in my cupboards (actually do from xmas!) and never touch it but my thing is cheese cheese and more cheese! I have a savoury tooth and not sure which is worse! Your'e right though, it IS just habit, as you correctly identified through your own evening ritual! I've done lean & green before but after a few days your body does crave carbs (and needs them) but I know when I see a couple of pounds come off the first week , feel better and perhaps look a bit better then that's me kick started and I'll become passionate about it ( I hope!). Your'e right about getting into a good film etc...but sipping on a tasty bouillon helps too and is maybe my thing now? Anyway...here's to the 12 week plan...all the best, and hope we can have the will power! It's gota be a life long thing though and a slip up is not the end of the world ...OR an excuse to jump off the wagon...we must remember that!!! Let me know how you're doing after a couple of weeks or so..

  • Well done Wannabe, yes I know the anxious looking for the carbs or sugar or with you cheese, if I have cheese in the fridge I'll eat the lot. This is good this 12 week challenge though, made me aware of where the extra weight was coming from. And I know if we keep going we will get there, end of week two for me tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to weighing in and measuring up, just to see how I have done. Still feel heaps better with what I have lost so far, but the Couch to 5k did not happen. I tried, but my knees got too swollen and hurt before I had completed the 1 min run bit, so decided to walk very briskly instead and did 20 minutes fast walking, so felt good about that. So my plan now is to do the brisk walks and add time to them, and on alternative days do something like the rowing machine, or exercise in the pool every little bit helps.

    So keep going girl, we will beat the fat genes yet. I have been doing smoothies for breakfast and using just yoghurt fruit and blend, keeps me going in the morning, then eggs or fish for lunch and whatever for evening meal, as long as it has lots of protein, the protein seems to make the difference to my looking for snacks, when i know I did not buy any, let me know how your weigh in goes.

  • Hi Donimac and thanks for the encouragement! I think your'e very brave doing the Couch to 5K. I don't know how much weight you want to lose or how fit you are but any extreme exercise is difficult at any time! I don't think I could run 1k let alone 5! But I can swim non stop for 50 mins (which is what I aim for every time) I know that's not going to build muscle but it does keep me supple and that's very important to me. I've been on the 12 week challenge only since Thursday so this is my third day and already I feel better! I've just had my first meal today which was steamed cod, broccoli and some new florret veg I thought I'd try. I know I'll miss the carbs soon but I'm not going to be silly and if it gets bad I'll add some wild rice or pulses to a meal. I actually don't miss cheese and haven't had any in my fridge for a week now. I ate about 20 cheese boards over xmas...it was ridiculous...and mostly washed down with prosecco...geeeze!! I felt like a slob by new year's day...bloated and disgusting and I want to feel 'clean' and light again. I don't think people would describe me as 'fat' in fact when I say I have 2 stone to lose they say that's far too much...but then I'm standing in a big baggy jumper and overcoat at the time! I can't look in the mirror naked now my body has changed so much!! You know yourself how you want to be and feel. I've pretty much always been a size 12 (and 5ft 7) and that's my ideal and comfortable size. The last three years I've just become a slob and size 14/16...takeaways and picking at nights..oh and bottles of prosecco!!. But I've been the happiest for years!! A lot has to do with being single (and loving it by the way!) and doing what the hell I want...no one nagging me about anything, especially my 'love handles' getting bigger!! But I've needed these three years to sort myself out emotionally and now it's time to move forward and be 'me' again. I think there is so much psychology behind women putting on weight...I do think cognitive therapy would help a lot of people...it's all about how we think and changing that, just like our perception of food...how do we actually think about food as individuals? It has to change in order to be long term, not just for an upcoming wedding or holiday where the weight all goes back on again! I might do a course advertised on Groupon (real cheap) which is about nutrition, another about cognitive therapy...find it all very interesting and can't do any harm? Keep up the walks..I have two dogs you can borrow lol!! I'll let you know how much (I hope) I've lost next Thursday weigh in.

  • thanks Wannabe, good to hear from you, yes I know what you mean about food being something we turn to when life gets nasty or hard, or even boring, I notice a lot of people on this forum have worked out they are emotional eaters, thats me to a T, when things get nasty or I'm worried, I eat, so easily went for a size 12 to 20 in a couple of years, well five years. But now I am doing this 12 week challenge and talking to people in the same situation I am feeling more confident about getting back to being thinner and healthier. I really just want to be healthy and I am not.

    Well the Couch to 5k went out the window, tried to start yesterday and after one minute slow shuffle running, my knee was so painful, I stopped running, but did a 20 minute brisk walk, so felt good about hat, toady did a 10 minute stint on the rowing machine, so gradually getting back into exercise,, which is what I need to do.

    Had my weigh in today, lost 1kg and 8cms off the waist, so all the Christmas bloating is going down. I have noticed all the food seems to sit on my waist and hips, so as they go down, so does the weight. I thought I had lost a bit more than that, so will make more of an effort this week. I'm 5ft and was 80 kgs, so very overweight for my height. need to lose at least 20kgs I think, just to be comfortable and fitter, I am finding as I get older it seems too easy to put on weight, although my job is more or less office bound at the moment, and that is not healthy. But I am moving in the right directions, I like the idea of borrowing your dogs, I'm working in the tropics near PNG, so they could maybe just hop on a boat coming this way. Good to hear from you, and let me know how you go at the end of week 1.

  • Brilliant weight loss...well done you! The xmas bloating does takes some shifting...why do we do it every year?!! Well, day 4 now, slept so much better last night and beginning to feel 'normal' again (after the end of year binge and ridiculous pig outs!) Just about to head off for a swim soon (prefer evenings when pool is nearly always empty) Personally I could just chill and watch telly but no no no!! You mention you work in the Tropics...is PNG Penang or Papua New Guinea? Interesting, tell me more! Reminds me, I have a week in South of France to stay with some Aussie friends in April and I really want to lose at least 15lbs by then (I got 10 weeks!) I know I'll enjoy the holiday so much more if I feel good and lighter on my feet. Onwards and upwards girl...it's all good from here on!

  • Great to hear from you, yes Papua New Guinea is the place, very hot and humid where i am in a remote community at the top end of Australia. yes I am please with the results but it so hard to keep going, today I just feel like eating everything in the shop, everything that is full of fat and sugar, so don't know why, maybe just tired or something....but others in the same boat and all of us helping each other helps me re-focus and keep on the straight and narrow. Have been doing OK, but for some reason, I just feel like eating rubbish. Might be because I have upped the exercise, which was not hard, from couch to walking for 10 minutes, can't run like you, so walking instead. Maybe that is why i feel like just eating too much. But still doing the 12 week challenge and the beginning of week 3, so just go to keep going.

    How was the pool you lucky lady? have fun

  • The best diets start at the supermarket - if the snacks aren't in the house you can't eat them!

    Between watching the documentary "Eat, Fast and Live Longer" in August and Kate Harrison's book The 5:2 Diet came out in October 2012 I wasn't sure what to do, so I switched to eating off smaller plates and stopped snacking in the evenings. It takes a whole lot of willpower, sure, but if those biscuits, nuts and crisps aren't in the house then a hot drink will have to do instead.

  • Fasting has NEVER appealed to me and I couldn't handle it. Your'e so right though re the hot drink! I've discovered bouillon...I make my own from veg, stock cubes, bay leaf, curry spices and chilli (because I love spicy food). Having a savoury tooth (chocolate from xmas is still in my cupboard and will be by next xmas!) at night I pick at cheese, crackers (oooh lovely melted in microwave for few seconds!!) and anything left over, like a sausage perhaps! Had steamed salmon fillet last night with broccoli and spinach and was really hungry after my swim hours later, so the bouillon later on worked for me! I'm doing the 12 day NHS work sheets and started yesterday calorie counting and filling in the sheets. There is NO cheese in my fridge and only water, condiments, loads of veg, chicken and fish. I'm single and live alone so it's easier to control the fridge! I know when the weight does start to drop I'll get a boost and hopefully I can turn my evenings around to day consumption for food. Good luck to you, it's all about will power for sure!!!

  • Good for you. It's certainly easier when you live on your own so you don't have things in for the rest of the family - though maybe they shouldn't have them either. I prefer MyFitnessPal for logging the calories and I don't eat back the exercise calories I burn. I'd rather fast (up to 500 calories) two non-consecutive days a week than have to count calories every day. I've done that with so many diets in the past and simply piled the weight back on once I stopped counting. Once I got to my desired weight - and a smaller dress size than I thought I'd get to, a 10 instead of the usual 12, I switched to just 'semi-fasting one day a week. So, for example, that would be bouillon all day long, and your salmon and broccoli in the evening. It's not as hard as you think it will be. This little video explains it very well:

  • One of the things that happens as life progresses is loss of muscle mass and this can start in the 30s. Muscle burns up more calories. Also hormone changes. However, habit has a lot to do with what you eat and when. If you've eaten meals in the daytime do you really need snacks in the evening? The people who make TV ads know this is what people do. All the ads for food and sweet items interspersed with drama or other TV programmes do not help. We don't need it!

  • Yeah Margrete, your'e right...my muscle mass has decreased and fat increased (hence BMI over 25) Something else I have been thinking about is I have about 4 hours during the day between each (and healthy) meal. So after dinner (say 6.30pm) I swim then about 10.30pm I'm starving! But I'm trying bouillon...I make my own from veg, stock cubes, bayleaf, curry spices and chilli and I sip on that which seems to work. I'm struggling with sleeping but I'm only on day 2 of the NHS 12 week plan and counting calories and trying to eat mostly veg and lean meat and fish. I have a savoury tooth and chocolate from xmas will still be in my cupboards next xmas...truly!! Hormone changes DO play a part as you say. I have no waste line now but not bothered about that just want to shed the 21lbs I've slowly put on last 3 years. Willpower, willpower...willpower!!!

  • I too have had this problem ,plus eating during the night. I am 68 ,have sleep apnoea and restless leg syndrome, two weeks ago I discovered boot camp diet on the internet, I have one 3xday last one at 8pm and can go to bed at 10pm now with no hunger ache and blessings, sleep though the night.

    before I found this boot camp diet I always had a few almonds to snack on by my chair has going into the kitchen would set me off, I think the food tv adverts are to blame to some extent as well. ps I have lost 11 lbs since the 12 /1 /15.

  • yeah Chris, I've come across the boot camp diet but I hate hate hate the word 'diet'. I have to say I couldn't ever live without good food (cooked from scratch) I love all the cooking programs on telly these days, there's really no excuse for anyone not to know how to cook now! But I used to be able to eat small portions of whatever and keep to a size 10/12 (I'm 5ft 7) but I've just become LAZY...just that I think...lazy and sloppy! Not good. But I'm doing well enough at the moment and love chatting to you folks for inspiration. You feel your'e not alone.

  • The major problem ( for what its worth) is that our basal metabolic rate does slow down as we get older.. also the effect of exercise is less pronounced... what TENDS to happen then is we eat as we ' always have' but we are generally eating too many calories for the amount our bodies burn at this age.. which our bodies helpfully store as fat.. ( hence why your body fat content increases )

    Additionally, its a double whammy as we find it harder to build muscle mass as we get older..

    None of which HELPS. only explains WHY.. longer term it means.. as you get older ( 50+). you need to lower slightly your calory intake to maintain weight..


  • So that's it then...along with the wrinkles, poor eye sight and extra weight we can't even enjoy our food like we used to!! Do I slit my wrists now or later!!

    Thanks for info tho..xxx

  • no I chose the words very carefully.. we CAN reduce our input..

    and although you have to WORK harder you CAN build muscle mass/ reduce fat at our age.. you just have to be aware it WILL take more work...

    wrinkles and poor eyesight.... are just MARKS of our vastly increased ' experience, maturity, and wisdom' !!


  • That made me laugh out loud ! 😄

  • Well i hope I do have some wisdom after my life's experiences! Just had steamed Swiss Chard and a wonderful Sea Bass (with lovely crispy skin...been watching Gordon Ramsay you know!) and will be going to pool again tonight. I find not opening a bottle of wine the hardest of all (you with me ladies??!!) . Because I love cooking (and food!) I've also got into the habit of uncorking (or more like unscrewing these days) that lovely chilled bottle of sauvignon. I've been good though as I'm very aware that, in my case anyway, I think a lot of my extra calories do come from the old vino...empty calories as they say. I have to say I feel better already and it can only get better still. Well, on and upwards, might even try the gym next week before the swim and tone up those muscles you talk of Averageman...if they're still there! xxx.

  • i know what you mean re the alcohol... ( or rather nice glass of wine in the evening) ... my technique.. (such as it is) is to deliberately NOT drink wine for at least three evenings during the week.. allowing me to feel OK about having one ( or two) small glasses - and i always have a small glass avoid BIG wine glasses ... when i want one!!

  • Well you know, that's habit too I've come to realise. Food=wine for me. I love the preparation of dinner at the end of the day whilst having a glass (or two) and then sitting down with (yet another) glass to enjoy what I've cooked lovingly for myself! But it's too too easy to slide down the bottle and then realise (hazily) that that's another 600 calories or more added to the meal. It's all habit with me as I've just had four days without wine and eaten decent food (even added the odd treat like meringue, banana and nat yoghurt later) and I feel the benefits already...AND it's actually quite easy after deciding to do it! It's all what's going on in the mind, it's changing that and THAT'S the hard part! How's your non smoking going? I'm vaping...you see another habit I have! I still love a real fag though... Damn life's a bitch!

  • well you get ups and downs, the one thing i come to realise from here is that too often we concentrate on the downs too much.. which can cause us to give up.. much better to concentrate on the good stuff... if you slip occasionally, the worlds not gonna end.. you are always better off than you would have been if you hadnt tried...

  • Absolutely I agree. I find some can be very serious and down here creating a negative backlog of blogs crying for help...understandable I guess if they're really struggling, but I have to say I agree with Amanda Platell in this link:


    The one thing though we should take on board...there is no quick fix to lose weight after putting loads on. Such as the drug they are talking about today (Liraglutide injection) which provides 'better' results than diet and exercise. The NHS are looking at offering this drug at a cost of £2.25 per day to obese and overweight patients once The European Commission has approved it (likely in the next 2 months) There was a discussion on The Right Stuff this morning about it, on Channel 5. I personally think it's ludicrous and will only have the 'quick fixers' flocking to their already over stretched GP's. Amanda's article says it all to me!!

  • well its funny Amanda is so ANTI ' treating' people to help with their obesity.. she nonetheless is happy to admit to paying for Botox for herself for her lines.. so she is not TOO 'anti- 'quick fix' for herself? ( and personally i would NEVER agree to injecting ' Botulism Toxin' into my skin...) So it seems to be one rule for her one for everyone else? OR do i misread her?

    but I DO agree.. ' quick fix' mentality is everything... and the ONE thing we know from dieting.. MOST people who LOSE weight quickly have gained same or more within 2 years...

  • Well I actually think that if she 'chooses' to use Botox and fillers then that's exactly her choice, and why not? She doesn't expect the NHS to pay for it! That's her point in the article. Why should the NHS pay out? Cosmetic enhancements can hardly be compared to obesity anyway which is (usually) self inflicted. I for one wouldn't expect the NHS to pay for Botox or any cosmetic 'improvements' for myself, just as I wouldn't expect them to pay for a drug to be injected every day because my overweight problem was due to my lifestyle!

  • I find I'm more active in the evenings during the summer, when I can get outside during the lighter nights. I like taking my dogs for extra walks and pottering around the garden. I think of comfort eating when I'm stuck indoors and can't get out and about during winter weather. For now I knit, do crosswords, anything to keep my hands busy and stops me reaching for comfort food and if I can't resist, I munch on some strawberries, something with fibre that fills me up...:)

  • 'Middle-age spread' may be a chronic condition, that people seem to be experiencing younger and younger.

    You write that you are experiencing hunger, so what is causing this? Is it because you've cut back too far on your food intake for example? Is your activity stimulating hunger? Is what you eat causing rises and falls in digestive hormones which, combined with menopausal hormone changes, trigger your appetite?

    The Body Clock Diet for example, highlights that protein stimulates consciousness.

    If you want to go to bed at 10, try getting up two hours earlier first, then going to bed at 11. When you get used to that, get up as early as appropriate to be tired for 10. Have a routine for preparing for bed that moves backwards with the bed-time too.

  • Two words, boredom, habit ! Eating when we're warm and comfy and watching something on the television after a hard days work our good behaviour is overtaken by the ' unwind ' state of mind when we're cwched ( good Welsh word !) up, we unwind, relax, chill, and eat !!!!! Eating is pleasurable isn't it! What about eating, but healthier things, a fruit platter maybe ? That way you still get to nibble all night ?

  • Yup your'e soooo right...that comfort zone. Why though is it easier (or seems so be) to pick at fruit and 'good' stuff throughout the day and evenings tempt cheese and biscuits?!!! Comfort I guess, as you say. I know people who go to bed at 10am...only time I've ever done that is when I have a 5am flight!!!! Guess then it's something to do with my sleep pattern and psychology of when to go to bed...perhaps I have a problem of 'switching off' for the day...???

  • D'you know what, this deserves some serious thought ! I'm going to be putting my thinking hat on about this ! I've got a feeling that cbt techniques could solve the riddle !?

  • Divide your daily calories into 4 - then have breakfast, lunch, dinner plus your healthy evening munchies! Then your evening treat won't be extra! Good luck!

  • Thanks guys! I'm done counting calories after the first week on here, never lost a pound!! Just done a two hour walk (uphill most of the way!!) with a friend, four dogs and a baby in buggy, which I pushed too...I know I need this exercise now...I'm knackered!! She told me about the Wii Fit which she uses (trying to lose weight after the baby) and says it's great. Maybe I could get one and turn my evening habits into fitness habits!!

  • Unfortunately the older you get, the more likely you are to be insulin resistant, which can make losing weight pretty difficult. This is an alternative that can work well for some people. I've lost about 2 stone, without being hungry.

    (But you don't need the amount of protein suggested, unless you are into body building).


  • Interesting; you say you've started doing this three years ago.... did anything happen three years ago to prompt this annoying habit from forming ?? Physically , emotionally, or medically ? It's very interesting because it's only been the last three years. For whatever reason though it does sound like a 'habit' and they can be broken, with time and a strategy that works for 'you'. What exactly are you called to 'nibble' ??

    Sweets, salty food, cheese, bread ?


  • I lost 70 lbs dealing with GERD, Adencarcinoma in the esophogus and upper stomach,

    radiation and chemotherapy. Have any suggestions to regaining weight?



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