NES is defined as someone who eats at least a third of their total calories after dinner and wakes up at least 2-3 times per week at night to eat. This disorder is rarely spoken about by health care professionals or patients due to embarrassment or lack of knowledge. Many individuals with NES are overweight due to night eating and sometimes are not even aware of what they ate.
NES is usually triggered by a stressful period of life event such as a divorce, death of a loved one or loss of a job. It is thought to have a genetic component as well. It can be difficult to treat and there is no clear cut therapy for change.
What can you do if you think you have NES? Various treatments from exist but here are some simple things to start off with:
- Even if you are not hungry, eat at least 3 meals a day starting with breakfast. Normalizing your meals and making yourself eat in the morning can help with regulating your body to start to eat at normal times
- Increase physical activity and exercise. Exercise not only helps to increase your metabolism but can also regulate the circuits in your body to want to eat at regular times
- Keep a food and sleep diary. This can help both you and your health care professional in sorting through how to best help solve the problem
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medications such as Zoloft (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)) can be helpful bridges in getting you to where you want to be with your lifestyle
NES can be treated successfully. Admitting to yourself and your health care professional that you may have NES is the first step towards recovery and healing to get you on the path towards change. Changing this disorder can change your waistline and your life.