I had an interesting email from a TBYT reader a while back, writing about her habit of going out to get food at 10:00 PM.
She said she does well all day and then around that time, she “can’t stand it anymore” and then goes and gets something to eat, even though she isn’t hungry:
“Yesterday I had the desire to eat some pretzels. I said to myself NO, you had some tortilla chips. So I didn’t need to eat the pretzels. At this point it was like a back and forth discussion in my mind about having the pretzels. So I wind up going to 7-11 and got the pretzels. At that point I would describe the feeling I had as peace mentally. Because before I bought them and I experience this same feeling when I try to say NO to sweets, I have no rest in my brain. Like my thoughts becoming consumed with it until I eat it, then afterwards I feel like a release. I am not sure what to tell myself during this time. Usually I say I don’t need this or not right now.”
My response to her is below. I pray it helps you if you are struggling with night-time eating attacks:
This habit has been with you a long time. I’ve got a question. You said that at 10:00 pm at night, you couldn’t stand “it” any longer. What is the “It” that you could not stand?
I want you to get specific about what “it” is. What need are the pretzels fulfilling in your life?
Just like you wired the habit into your brain, you can wire it back out. Let’s look at what happened, step by step:
1. You had the desire to eat pretzels. No problem. People have desires all the time, don’t they? You are at home. The pretzels are in the store. There is distance between you and the temptation.
2. You told yourself, “No, I had some tortilla chips. You don’t need to eat the pretzels.” Still no problem. You are at home and the pretzels are at the store.There is distance between you and the temptation.
3. A back-and-forth discussion starts up in your mind. Oops, here’s the problem! A crack in the door.
You’ve just opened up the possibility of eliminating the distance between you and the temptation. There is indecision now.
The new question you’ve introduced for debate is, “Should I go get the pretzels?” That is the wrong question. Wrong questions have the ability to lead us in the wrong direction!
This is the point where the battle is won or lost. This is what you need to explore.
Have you really made up your mind that you will make no more trips to the 7-11? Or are you leaving the door open for that to be an option for you? You said that there is no rest in your brain if you don’t go.
So you are seeking rest, right? That seems to be the bottom line.
Remember, certain foods can “hijack” your brain because they use the Dopamine Reward Pathway (DRP) to activate the pleasure centers in your brain. The pretzels do this to you.
The toxic part of your thinking is that pretzels are the only way that you can get rest, peace, and pleasure at this moment.
One way you know a toxic thought is that it limits your options for change!
Instead of a discussion with yourself about whether you are going to the 7-11 to get pretzels or not, the discussion that really needs to happen is between you and the Lord.
“Father, I need rest. I want to feel pleasure. I am used to turning to pretzels and food to meet this need in my life. But I want to do things differently. Send me your rest, Father. Show me your joy.”
You can ask Him this on the basis of 3 scriptures:
- Matthew 11:28 – “‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
- Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”
- Psalm 16:11 – “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Take the Lord at His word. Walk around the house – put on some praise music, raise your hands and praise the Lord for 10 minutes, waiting on His rest and His joy to come to you. Praise, gratitude, and worship are some the things for which the DRP is designed.
I’d also suggest something else. How much money would you have spent on those snacks at the 7-11? Whatever it is, take that money and start putting it in a jar. When you get about $20, you can use that to donate to hunger relief or give yourself a non-food reward, like a manicure or pedicure.
4. When you went to the 7-11, you said “I wind up going to 7-11 and got the pretzels.”
No. You did not wind up there. That implies you didn’t have a choice, like you were transported to the store magically.
You made a conscious decision to go, so please be honest about that. This is important to acknowledge.
Here is what had to happen for you to remove the distance between yourself and the pretzels (if you drove to the pretzels and didn’t walk) once you decided you were going to go:
A. You walked over to the car keys.
B. You picked up the car keys.
C. You walked out of your house door.
D. You walked over to the car.
E. You opened the car door.
F. You got into the car.
G. You started up the car.
H. You drove to the store.
I. You got out of the car.
J. You closed the car door.
K. You opened the door to the store.
L. You went into the store.
M. You went to the shelf where the pretzels are.
N. You reached and got the pretzels.
O. You went to the counter to pay.
P. You paid for the pretzels.
Q. You opened the car door.
R. You got into the car.
S. You opened the pretzels
T. You ate the pretzels.
U. You felt peace.
I’m just speculating on ‘S’ and ‘T’ because if you were driven like that to go get pretzels, then I’m thinking you didn’t wait. You ate them in the car. That’s what I used to do. I didn’t want to wait; I had to have them NOW.
Oh and one more thing…everything that I have told you IS going to be uncomfortable at first. That is your hijacked brain wanting to do things the old way so it can get its fix.
It’s going to take time for the initial rewiring to kick in and then you need to be consistent for a minimum of 21 days total for this 1 toxic thought to be dismantled. You might have others you need to re-wire too but you can work on those later.
I hope you find this information helpful! You don’t want to allow any behavior in your life that cause you to be hasty and impulsive. Heed the wisdom in Proverbs 4:26:
Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established.”
Be blessed in health, healing, and wholeness,
Creator of the Take Back Your Temple program
P.S. Are you ready to grow stronger Spiritually and heal emotionally as you achieve your ideal weight? Let the Take Back Your Temple program be your guide. God’s way is a change from the inside out and once you are changed His way, you are never the same!