Do your cravings go up when the sun goes down?

Are you a night eater who just can’t kick the habit?

So many people do great with their nutrition until the sun sets…or even a few hours before.

Then all their motivation and will power goes out the door.

Does that sound like you? If so, you’re going to love this episode!

In This Episode, You'll Learn:

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Rita Black: Are you an eater of the night? Does the sun going down, meaning your cravings are going up? Well, in this episode of Thin Thinking, we are exploring part one of a two part series focused on thin thinking strategies to break night eating. So come on in.

Rita Black: Did you know that our struggle with weight doesn't start with the food on your plate or get fixed in the gym? 80% of our weight struggle is mental. That's right, the key to unlocking long-term weight release and management begins in your mind. Hi, there I'm Rita black. I'm a clinical hypnotherapist, weight loss expert, best-selling author, and the creator of the Shift Weight Mastery Process. And not only have I helped thousands of people over the past 20 years achieve long-term weight mastery, I am also a former weight struggler, carb addict, and binge eater. And after two decades of failed diets and fad weight loss programs, I lost 40 pounds with the help of hypnosis. Not only did I release all that weight, I have kept it off for 25 years. Enter the Thin Thinking Podcast where you too will learn how to remove the mental roadblocks that keep you struggling. I'll give you the thin thinking tools, skills, and insights to help you develop the mindset you need. Not only to achieve your ideal weight, but to stay there long-term and live your best life.

Rita Black: Hey, welcome. And come on in. Happy May everybody. Well, we just started the Spring 2021 Shift Weight Mastery Process with a big kickoff on Saturday, which I always love to do. It's online, but it's live. And I really love getting in the trenches with the students. And why I bring that up is because today we are talking about a hot topic, a topic that is on everybody's lips. When I say, hey, what, what are some main things that you are challenged with? This is across the board, whether it's participants in the Shift Weight Mastery Process, whether it's clients, whether it's people in my monthly group, night eating is a big challenge on our journey to weight mastery. Students will say, I'm great until about 4:00 PM and then all hell breaks loose. And some people it's more that late afternoon at work. And some people it's before dinner and some people it's after dinner in front of the TV.

Rita Black: And for many people it's all of the above, right? So it's such an epidemic. And I have to say that COVID and the pandemic have really compounded this greatly for a lot of people, because we've been stuck inside all day and it just got worse. So today I'd like to look at this and give you some thin thinking strategies around your behaviors at night. And we're doing part one today of a two part series. And today's episode by the way, is sponsored by my free five day hypnosis-based micro process called Lights Out On Night Eating. And there will be more details about getting into that little mini micro course for free at the end of today's episode, or you can check out the show notes.

Rita Black: So, I have a saying, and that saying is if we all went to bed at five o'clock, we would all be thin. So why do we struggle? Why do we do it? Well, first of all, I want to assure you because a lot of people have a lot of guilt and shame around their night eating that really a lot of it is not your fault. I bet you think it is. You think you don't have the discipline that you should to just suck it up and stop eating, that you just should overcome this problem. And what's wrong with you? Because I hear that all the time, but I want to assure you that, and by talking about it, just to let you know that this is something that is very widespread and we're going to dive in today about why is the eating at night such a struggle for so many people? Well, the truth of the matter is, we are fighting against a lot of powerful forces.

Rita Black: So I want you to know that the answers to your night eating challenges or dilemma, isn't about fixing you. There's nothing wrong with you, but it's a combination of things. It's really learning to work with yourself, to respect yourself and love yourself and know, Hey, I can figure this out. It is figure outable, but also to understand that there are a lot of layers to this, but once you start to understand what is all about, then you can start to address it. So today's episode, I want to do two things. I want to walk you through what are the main challenges that we face with breaking a night eating pattern? And then two, to start to look at some tools that we can take on before the night happens, because prevention is really one of the best medicines. And so we can start to prevent night eating or begin to break it down even before we get into the evening.

Rita Black: Because I think for most people, once they're in the pattern of the evening, that force is pretty strong. Okay. So why do we eat at night? Why are we so compelled? Well, first of all, you must understand the willpower. And impulse control. When we wake up in the morning, you know, like I said, I've been working for years, 20 years with thousands of people. And when I work with people, whether it's one-on-one or in groups or classes, you know, people say, Rita, I'm great with breakfast, I got it. Nailed lunch, pretty good. Most of the days I am pretty good about what happens like late afternoon or when I get home, yeah, that's when it all falls apart. And that is because when we wake up in the morning, we have the most willpower that we are going to have for that day to think of your willpower is sort of like a finite resource.

Rita Black: And what happens is that willpower and our impulse impulse control gets eaten away, right? Basically, for lack of a better word, eaten away by things like stress decision-making decision-making takes a lot of our willpower ways, just like we're using our brain a lot when we make decisions. And whether you work at an office or you're managing a household or kids, or just, you know, going through life, life is so busy and we have so many decisions to make that often. By the time we get to the late afternoon, our impulse control has now really diminished. So for most people, we get to the late afternoon, early evening and we are, you know, like our ability to say no to things, ready to go to the grocery store and I'd grab all of those things that are right by the checkout stand.

Rita Black: They go down big time. So first of all, you need to understand that by the evening, your willpower is very, very low. And we're going to look at some of the tools that we can use to elevate and borrow our willpower. So we can have some at night, but you have to know that your willpower is usually very low at night. And the other thing is usually now the last year, maybe not so much. So, but our days are far more structured than our evenings. As far as external structure, we get up, we brush our teeth, we do stuff out in the world or at home, but you know, we do this, then we do that. Then we do this and there's typically, pretty secure or structure to our day. So when we get home at night, it feels likethe external structure is gone and it's just kind of like, huh, relax in front of the TV, eat, you know, our brain isn't in as much of a structure.

Rita Black: We actually do have a pattern to our evening, but the external structure is gone. So a lot of people feel a lot more lost or a lot more, just, you know, there isn't that I'm going to that focus at night because it's time to relax and it's time to unwind. And that's where a lot of people feel like their eating goes up and they get a lot more challenged in those times. Their feelings start to come to the surface, because they're not at work anymore and they're not having to push down feelings and emotions because they've got stuff to do. And they've got people to interact with. Then they've got problems to solve and businesses to attend to. And then when we get home, all those feelings from the day also start to burble up. And we're dealing with those things.

Rita Black: We're dealing with our family, lots of stuff is going on in a much more unstructured way. Another reason why we eat at night is we frickin need a reward at the end of the day, right? Like we get to the end of our day, it's like running a marathon. You know, we get in the car, we drive to work, we work our asses off. We cure diseases. We, we take care of things. We make the numbers in the column add up, but whatever, we're out there doing, we're doing it and we're giving it our, all we get in the car, we get home or in the bus, we get home, we walk home, whatever we do, we get home. We shut that door and it's like, all right, it's me time. It's time for me to unplug and just let it, and then there are those things at the end of the day that we tend to have in our houses that we might also have in our workplace, but now nobody's looking or maybe, that there's no willpower, there's no structure.

Rita Black: And now we're in a kitchen with lots of refined foods or treats sitting in cabinets, beckoning us, calling our name, come and get me. I'm here for you. And only you please come and eat me. And then we also do develop a pattern typically of how we eat that then once itself repeated, and you know, for a lot of people, especially those that eat after dinner, there's usually they eat one thing. Then they'll eat another thing. Then I'll eat another thing. And there's usually a pattern like, or we come home and then we hit the cheese and crackers. And then we hit the, maybe we have a little nuts. And then we have a little this before dinner even starts or we finished dinner and then we have the popcorn. Then we have the sweet thing. And then we have the tater chips, like whatever, sweet salt, sweet.

Rita Black: But there tends to be patterns and you might not be eating the same thing every night, but it, you know, our brain tends to get into these patterns of eating that. Then once it's unconscious, once it's a habit just wants to be repeated. And then also it's part of our culture, right? I mean, you know, it's our right. As you know, people who work hard to come home and be with our family and sit in front of that, dang, as my dad would call it the boob tube or in front of our screen, or a tablet, or what have you, and just zone out, it is the way of the world. We deserve it. And it's our time. Maybe it's our family's time to do it. Maybe it's our time. We do it with our partner, or just do it with ourself.

Rita Black: We come home, we order take out or something, and then it's just chill out. Okay. So now usually the way that we try to go about managing night eating or the way I see people trying to do it is just try not to do it. I mean, most people will say to me, I know what I got to do. I just got to suck it up and stop it. Right? And usually we look at ourselves as the problem. We think of ourselves as this out of control night, eating freak, who like this vampire of snack foods, who just needs to be locked up. The food needs to be locked up. We need to be locked up and we just need to, you know, suck it up and change. But then we keep doing the same thing over and over again. And then we continue to feel bad and feel worse and then feel even worse.

Rita Black: So we want to turn this around. And instead of this idea of sucking it up and being good, we want to look at night, our nights from a whole new place. And what I mean by that is instead of taking away the food and taking away the patterns, we really want us to start to look at this fresh and to start to look at our evenings as a project where we're creating something new, because the opportunity here for you with your evenings, isn't about being good. But the opportunity here is to create an evening for you that not only rejuvenates you, relaxes you, but an evening where you are taking care of yourself and you don't need to reach for food to take care of yourself, that you're taking care of yourself in a great way that fulfills you.

Rita Black: And you're setting this up for a lifestyle, right? You're creating a new lifestyle. So, you know, we talk often about long-term permanent weight mastery isn't being good on a diet. It's about creating a life that allows you to live your life at your ideal weight. And that includes your evenings. The evenings are a big part of this. The evenings for us as a culture are a time to, you know come home, unplug, and rejuvenate, but maybe the way that the patterns that you've gotten into your brain obviously has made some choices, like, you know, eating in this pattern on one level that your brain at one point said, this works for me, but the problem is it's not working for you because you ended up going to bed, you know, with feeling full or feeling like you've eaten too much. Maybe you've gone off track on what you wanted to eat for the day.

Rita Black: And, and again, it makes you feel bad about yourself. You've got that little critic in your head or that big critic in your head that starts beating you up. So ultimately our pattern isn't working for us, and we've got to look at this with fresh eyes and what I call a reframe, reframe our evenings as what is possible and what is potential for us rather than creating, you know, like taking everything away and trying to be good and trying to suck it up because it, the brain just doesn't work like that. And you're going to get just more of the same old behaviors. If you keep trying to do that, it's just not gonna work for you. Okay. So at the heart of this, I would say that this project is a remodel job, right? We're remodeling our evenings. And at the root of this is self-care and self-love, you are not the problem to be fixed, but you want to create a night that works for you.

Rita Black: And this is going to require patience, and it's going to require probably not getting it right out of the gate. Right. It's not, you know, most things that you've created in your life that work for you now, it was trial and error, including walking, right. You, you know, as a toddler, every time you fell down, somebody was like, you blew it. You're never going to walk. Well, would you have walked? Probably not. So you got it, and you tried to walk again and you try to walk again. And pretty soon you were putting a few steps together. And pretty soon you're walking across the floor. And pretty soon you're walking to school and running marathons. And, you know, you don't even think about walking anymore, but at some point in your life, you, that was something you really wanted.

Rita Black: You made that a project as that little baby. I want to walk. I want this. I remember my husband worked so hard to get our daughter to walk early. And she walked early. She walked at eight or nine months. I was like, why are you teaching our daughter to walk, please hold that off as long as possible. But anyway, it's important to understand that this is a project and it is a project and you can do this. So, what we want to do is create this from a place of self loving and not self loathing. So one of the things that we're going to do and in this session, but also in our next episode is start to create a vision of what we want to have at night. Like what our nights will be, what we want them to be created as for ourselves.

Rita Black: And this is probably going to take a little thinking. So between now this episode, and next episode, I'd like you to start to think about if I could have any night that I wanted, that would leave me feeling refreshed, taken care of. And I think so often when we go into thinking about night eating, we think about like, I can't do this and, and let's not do that, but why don't we start from a vision of what we want to do when we go to bed at night?

Rita Black: How do we want to feel? Because our brain is so powerful. And as I have mentioned in earlier podcasts, but if you have not caught one of those, I will say, now our brain is a computer, right? And we need to program it with what we want. Uh, the brain is pretty good at, at starting to come up with solutions and solves when we start to put in the right code and the right code for solving the night, eating challenge is really getting really clear about what kind of evening do I need to create. That's going to allow me to go to bed at night, feeling a light, feeling, refreshed, feeling rejuvenated. Like I connected with myself and I had a good evening and I got ready for the next day. And I was mentally able to let go of today's day and give myself credit for the things that went well.

Rita Black: And to think about the things that maybe I can improve on whatever you want to think about the, you getting into bed at night, feeling like dang, that was a good day. I showed up for myself. I ate, well, I exercised if that was on your thing to do list that or that, you know, what you wanted to create for yourself and, and, and really think from that place and then reverse engineer from there. And, when you do it this way, your brain will start to come up with some ideas for you. You probably already have a lot of ideas what you'd like to do at night. Sometimes I think, sometimes people say, well, what I want to do at night is reorganize all my closets and do all this stuff. But I caution you a lot of times when we have these high ambitious goals, like you have to remember, you're coming home probably from a long day at work.

Rita Black: And when we say I want to come home and get my master's degree and do this, I mean, like, those are all, and clean the closets and start my new business and everything. Those are all really awesome things. But you also want to really think about when you come home, you're exhausted. And probably the first thing you want to do is unwind in some way, either by exercising and going for a walk and unwinding that way, because exercise is so amazing to do that. You know, our problem solving brain is the best when we exercise. And actually exercise does rejuvenate us. But if that's not you, if you exercise in the morning, or if you're, you know, like, huh, I ain't there yet fine, but you do want to be realistic about your goals. It's not like you're going to grab the sponge and start mopping the kitchen floor after working all day, because what your brain will do is go, ah, that ain't going to happen and shut down, and then it will just be business as usual for you.

Rita Black: But so you want to just start to think of a vision of how you want to feel at the end of the day, very end of the day, going to bed, and then start to come up with some ideas and we'll shape this and do more of that in next episode. But the next thing I want to talk about is your morning mind, because your morning mind is the most powerful mind. And as I said earlier in this episode, our willpower is the highest in the morning. And what happens is when people struggle with night eating, they'll often just wake up and they'll go, well, I hope I'm good tonight. I'm going to be good. I'm not going to eat like I did last night and they'll, they'll head off into their day. And then they get to their evening and then they expect that their evening should roll out differently.

Rita Black: But the problem is once you're into a pattern, the bus has already left the station, it's almost impossible to show up to a habit and try to change the habit within the habit, because it's such a powerful force. It's like trying to get off a, you know, six flags magic mountain. What do you call those things? Rollercoaster. Thank you. A roller coaster ride, you know, as it's already left and is going up the hill, right? It's like once the ride has left the terminal, once that thing is locked in front of you, the hand rail. There's no getting out. So often that's why we don't get the behavior change that we want is we're showing up way too late to the behavior change. We want to start to think about the behavior change ahead of time.

Rita Black: And then we want to start practicing that behavior change in the morning so that you're already telling your brain, you're giving your brain directions. You're saying, okay, brain, tonight, this is what we're gonna do. We're going to come home. I'm going to, instead of, you know, opening up the door and heading to the refrigerator to get a glass of wine and to get some cheese. I am going to go and put my tennis shoes on and go for a walk. And you practice that in your mind, you practice seeing the, you know, going to your closet and getting your tennis shoes better yet, have your tennis shoes all ready by the door when you leave in the morning, put them there. So, you know, you're going to put them on and get out the door, you're going to see yourself coming in.

Rita Black: And instead of going to the fridge, you go to the sink and get a glass of water and get a glass of water and drink that glass of water. You see yourself doing it ahead of time. And in that vision, imagine how that's going to feel, that water's going to feel crisp. Oh, it's going to feel so great to get out on the street, walking and feeling that wind against your face or the, the night breeze against your face, right? You really want to make it sexy in that vision for your mind. So your mind is like, Ooh, that sounds good. That sounds better than sitting with a glass of wine on my sofa. You know, totally numbing out, right? So you want to set yourself up for success, have those things ready so that you are in it.

Rita Black: And you practice that a couple of times in your mind. And I call that like a morning meditation. You're visualizing your day and you can visualize your whole day up until that point. But if this is the, where the behavioral, wherever your vulnerable point is, is really where you want to practice the new behavioral change, whatever you, what change you want to do. So, you're borrowing your willpower from the morning and it's like, you're inserting it into the evening. Does that make sense? It's like you're sending yourself some love and willpower in your morning, into your evening ahead of time by practicing the behavioral changes you want to make. And honestly you could, if this is something that you want to add into this, because this is very helpful is you could do the two scenarios. You could follow that.

Rita Black: Let me drink wine, sit at the couch, eat too much cheese, feel full by dinner, eat dinner, kind of numb out in front of the TV. Maybe eat a little more. How does that feel by the end of the evening? Hmm. Brain, how did we feel? Okay. Now let's reverse go all the way back now. Let's play it through to the new evening we have for ourselves coming home, putting those shoes on drinking some water exercise and coming home, feeling energized and light eating healthy dinner. Maybe we're relaxing a little bit in front of the TV, getting to bed, reading a book, feeling good, going to bed. Oh, what an awesome day. Right? And you're getting your brain to turn on this reticular activation system, which has sort of filtering out the negative stuff and going yes to the good stuff. And the more you do this with your brain, the more you practice, the more the brain will help you reinforce this new idea of yourself, because you are also creating a new identity of the lighter, healthier you going through your evening.

Rita Black: So many of these things just by doing this in the morning are being activated. And, so I cannot emphasize enough begin with the end in mind and think your day through in the morning, it can be really easy folks like, you know, you don't have to sit up in bed. I'm talking about hitting the snooze alarm and doing this, you know, imagining this while your eyes are still closed, because you're sort of in a semi hypnotic state in the morning when you wake up, you're kind of half there half not. So if you think things through this way, it's a really great time, cause you're sort of already in a trance state, it's almost self hypnosis. I think the other thing that is very helpful when it comes to your morning, think through, is to really think of the structure of your evening, because regardless of whether or not you think you have a structure, your brain pretty much has some habits that are driven, and those are structures, right?

Rita Black: Those are patterns that are repeated, and they're usually driven by dopamine, the reward neurotransmitter, and you know, that part of the brain will agitate you to go get the popcorn out of the cupboard. It will agitate you to get the chocolates out of the cupboard. So, what you want to do instead is give your brain that alternative route and really have a structure where you say, okay, I'm going to come home. Then, you know, exercise is going to happen. I'm going to drink water. I'm going to have a healthy dinner. I'm going to watch an hour of TV. And then I'm going to head to bed to have that and read a book or whatever, but you want to have this, then this, then this, then this just so that your brain, again, you want to think, if you're guiding a child, you know, you want to think as if you're working with us, a five or a six year old, you want to make it really clear and really easy and keep it simple.

Rita Black: But anyone to work with yourself and we're going to, and we're going to get into this more in the next podcast, but I wanted you to start to think about starting with the end in mind, and to start to cultivate thinking about your evening in the morning and practicing the behaviors that you want to create and having sort of a map through your evening to that end goal, just to keep it aligned with your brain, to get, to make it as simple as possible to code that brain very, very simply. And you know, don't make it all work, you know, include a reward. And, I would say, even if you have a treat at the end of the evening, as far as food is concerned, fine, that's great. You know, there's cognitive behavioral studies that say that having a treat at the end of the day really allows you to forego a lot of the other sort of extraneous eating earlier in the day.

Rita Black: So if you have a healthy dinner and you have a healthy treat after dinner, or at a certain set time, my only guidance would be, be mindful about that tree. Don't eat it mindlessly in front of the television because often that's what we do with food. And then we don't even recognize that we've eaten it. And then we want more. So that is my coaching. And those are some thin thinking tools and strategies to get you going with your night eating. Now, if you're interested in having more coaching along with some hypnosis and some useful meditation to help you break out of the night, eating, please try my free Lights Out On Night Eating five day hypnosis based micro process. It's the link is in the show notes, or it's also on my website, And it's easy. You just sign up and it comes to you one day at a time, and it's five days, so you can do this.

Rita Black: And it all starts with prevention and it all starts with believing in yourself. You can do this. And before you know, it, you will be really creating an evening that you love that you always wanted to have, but never thought was possible. You can create it. It all starts here with belief and working with yourself effectively and using that powerful brain of yours in the right way. Okay. So have an amazing week. And remember that the key, and probably the only key to unlocking the door of the weight struggle is inside you. So keep listening and find it.

Rita Black: Do you want to dive deeper into the mindset of long-term weight release? Head on over to where you'll find numerous tools and resources to help you unlock your mind for permanent weight release, tips, strategies, and more, and be sure to check the show notes to learn more about my book From Fat to Thin Thinking: Unlock Your Mind For Permanent Weight Loss.