Episode Highlights

00:04:53 Serotonin vs Dopamine
00:06:31 Stop eating 3 hours before going to bed
00:07:42 What causes binge eating?
00:10:32 How to avoid binge eating
00:13:40 Difference between hunger and cravings
00:15:15 Brain needs fat in order to function well


Fitness Guide





Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast, where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way without spending hours in the gym. Here’s your host, Darren Kirby.

Darren: Welcome back to the podcast, guys. This is the number one podcast for men in their 40s who want to improve their health using nutrition and fitness. And this is Episode 97. And on today’s episode, we are going to be talking about secret binge eating, specifically around eating at night. So before we dive into today’s very interesting topic, I just want to take a few moments just to let you guys know who is listening, how you can get involved, and how you could use some of our products and services at Fitter Healthier Dad. So, as you know, we have the TT40 method framework, which is based on three core principles of metabolism, movement, and mindset. And the three ways you can work with this, either the digital program which you can buy and download from TT40.fitterhealthierdad.com or you can get involved in the coaching to that side, the group coaching in groups of five or one to one coaching. And if you go to coaching.fitterhealthierdad.com you can get some more information there. So let’s delve into today’s topic and the reason why I’m smiling. The reason why it’s an interesting topic is that this is so common. But everybody that I speak to thinks that they are the only ones that do it. They think they have got a problem. They think they are bad. So I want to kind of really delve into that today and why it happens and then what we can do to kind of overcome it and to mitigate against it.

So binge eating kind of if anybody’s old enough and who’s listening to this? Will is in the UK, will remember the all-white lemonade advert where they were a secret lemonade drinker. And that’s the kind of theme that comes up for me when I’m talking about a kind of binge eating in the evening. So the general scenario is you have your meal in the evening. If you get home at a reasonable time, six, seven o’clock, and then you’ve had, you know, you’ve got a nice meal and then you kind of relax for the evening. So you might be sitting down watching TV, you might be reading a book, having a conversation, whatever it is you’re doing. And then we get to around 8:30, and maybe we’ve seen something on the TV. Maybe we’ve just watched the program. I might often feel a little bit peckish. So off you go to the kitchen and you have a little delve around in the kitchen. And let’s be honest, right at that point, you are not looking for something that’s nice and healthy. Some fruit you may be, but the majority of guys that I work with don’t. And then what happens is you might start delving into the drawer where the kids snacks. Are you looking for a pack of crisps or some biscuits or some chocolate bars? And then the kind of nightmare begins.

And why is it a nightmare? Because when you’re going through this process, I know I’m speaking from experience with this and you are conscious of what you’re doing. Right. So you are in your mind, you want something sweet to eat, OK? You feel like you’re craving and this is the word that’s often used: craving and craving some chocolate on craving some crisps. And so you find it. And then you, Delvin, when you start eating it and the thoughts going through your mind are now should be in it. I know I shouldn’t be in it. I’ll be good tomorrow. I’ll stop next week. I know this is bad for me, but it’s, you know, and you carry on going through that process. Then if it goes to the extremes, you might sit back down in the lounge, you might get back to the sofa or the back to whatever you’re doing. You could even be working late at night. And so you’ve had a biscuit or you’ve had a bag of crisps that was nice. Then you don’t give your gut time to tell your brain. Actually, that was nice. And fill up now. Because there’s a communication that goes between the gut on the brain, and so you go back to the cupboard again and then you delve in again and it just kind of magnifies from there. If it’s a biscuit, you might then take the biscuit pack back to where you were and you start eating the biscuit.

You know, I’m only going to have one more. Have one more. When are you going to have one more packet? And then before, you know, you’ve eaten a whole lot and then the guilt starts to come in. Right. Then the guilt is, I shouldn’t have done that. I feel rubbish now and I won’t do that tomorrow. I’ll be better tomorrow. But this is a snowball effect and it just continues and continues and continues. So what’s actually happening here from my I guess from a delve into the science really of it is that there are two main neurotransmitters that we have, which is serotonin and dopamine. And what happens is serotonin exists in the gut and in messages between the brain and the gut, and serotonin stabilizes our mood and dopamine gives signals of reward. So what happens is when you are going towards the sweet cupboard or you’ve decided you or your brain, you think your brain is told you’re craving the dopamine is kicking in because it’s the reward is the reward of I’m going to have a chocolate biscuit that’s going to really taste nice. I’m really going to enjoy that. But I know I shouldn’t have it. And then the serotonin is what then lightens the mood gives us that feeling of all that was not real contentment and things like that. The challenge is that when we get on this kind of train, if you like, is that the serotonin and the stuff that goes on in the gut doesn’t have time to go from the gut to the brain and to trigger in the brain that you fill up you don’t need anymore.

So you carry on going, OK, you carry on going. And it’s only 10, 15 minutes later after you finish the whole pack off, you’ve had three or four bags of crisps. That whole chocolate bar. Does it then signal to the brain that you fill up now, but you haven’t given that processing time to actually occur? And then you sit there or you stand there or whatever you’re doing and you feel rough. Now, I don’t feel very well. That was nice. But now I’m not. I’m suffering. And then what happens is if it’s close to your time, your heart rate is elevated because the digestive system is still processing all that food that then affects your sleep. Because when you go to sleep and about an hour or three, one, two, three hours before we go to sleep, that’s when we want to stop preparing the body. And this sounds all complicated, but it’s actually not. Once you break it down to the fundamentals, it’s really no, you just stop eating three hours before we go to bed. Quite simple, we’ll say. Quite simple. It’s easy to say, harder to do. And so what happens is once you’ve had that binge, then when you go to bed, your heart rate is elevated.

That then disrupts your sleep. You don’t get a good night’s sleep and it just snowballs from there because the next day, if the sleep is disrupted enough, you will be fatigued. And then unconsciously, your body or your brain will start looking for stimulant stimulants because you feel tired or you feel a bit jaded or you’re not switched on cognitively and it just manifests it just carries on from there. So that’s kind of what’s happening now. We are conscious, we are very conscious of what we’re doing, but it’s almost like this thing. And I talk to guys about it all the time. It’s like they can’t stop it. It’s almost like you feel possessed. Right. And these are all these neurotransmitters and chemicals that are going on in the body as it happens. So. What causes it? There are so many things that can cause you to do that. It could be things completely unrelated to food. So it could be that like I’ve just said, you’ve had a poor night’s sleep, you’re feeling tired and you crave this pick me up. And obviously the sugar in the sweet stuff and the fat, more importantly, will be the kind of satiating element to the binge eating, make you feel kind of full on that kind of thing. But it might be things like you’ve had a bad day, you’ve had a really stressful day at work, and that is you just need some serotonin.

You don’t know. This is one consciously going on in the back of your mind, some serotonin to lighten your mood. And then obviously the dopamine is there to build up time. I’m going to have a chocolate bar. So it might be a bad day at work. So you might be stressed and maybe stuff going on in your relationship might be stuff going on with the kids. The kids are kicking off. Kids have had a bad day at school. The kids are sick. You’ve not had much sleep. So all of this stuff builds up to us kind of binge eating. So really, the purpose of this episode really is to let you know that you’re not in the minority, you’re in the majority. I have, I would say. All the guys that I’ve coached, I probably have come across one or two people that I’ve not said that they don’t bingy pretty much every single man that I’ve come across been binge in the evening. And that’s just the way it is. So there are lots of things that we can do to be aware, to kind of mitigate against it. The first thing that I like and I am using it for a method is something called the capsule cupboard. And what it basically means is that you only have foods in the house that you know are good for you or they’re going to help you achieve whatever goal it is from a nutritional standpoint.

That could be healthy eating. That could be fatness. That could be weight loss, which is all. Well, when you don’t have kids in the house, if you don’t have kids in the house, that’s very easy to do. Unfortunately, unless your kids have been brought up where they haven’t been exposed to these sweets, chocolates and snacks, it’s unlikely that you can avoid not having them in the house. I mean, I even went to an extreme at one point where the stuff that that kind of stuff would be hidden from me say that when that craving hit. I couldn’t go. I couldn’t get access to that stuff so that obviously that’s an extreme that’s I mean, a lot of this is about awareness and then changing habits, OK? And in order to change your habits, you have to change the environment. And changing the environment means not having it in the cupboard. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it. So. So that’s another thing. Yeah. So then there’s obviously stress, family stress. Then there could also be you could be dehydrated, so you might not have had enough water. You feel like you’re hungry. And therefore, you feel like you need to eat something and you always naturally gravitate towards sugary fatty snacks that are available so it can be hydration, it could be something psychological, like an advert. It just came on the TV. You know, a lot of people don’t realize that there’s a huge amount of psychology that goes behind not just advertising, but food advertising.

There are actually food psychologists who are employed to ensure that food has a certain bite to it. When you first eat a certain crunch and they spend millions of pounds trying to get that perfect bite, that perfect crunch which entices us. So you may have just seen an advert for a packet of crisps on a walkers, and I’m going to call them out or renowned for this, getting to that point where they can hear that crunch and with all these modern TVs and surround sounds now it’s like, you know, you’ve just opened the bag of crisps. So there’s a psychological element behind it. And it could be advertising on TV. You could genuinely have a genetic disorder. In which case, you know, you definitely have to go if you believe that is the case, you definitely have to go and see a GP. But I would advocate you trying out things for so changing the environment, removing things from the environment if you can’t even go to the extremes, if you’re that committed and you have children in the house and you can’t get rid of them snakes, hide them, get them hidden so they’re away from you. And once you’ve broken that that kind of habit, when you’ve broken the chain, you gradually feel better and you gradually have the ability to be able to ignore those cravings.

And that’s the other thing. Coming back to the awareness side of things is it is almost you almost have to have this internal conversation with yourself or your conversation with your partner. And you can say, I’m really craving some crisps or some chocolate, but I know that I don’t want to have it because I know it’s going to affect what I’m trying to achieve, whether it’s healthy living, weight loss, fat loss, like I said. So what am I going to do about it? And you can all and it sounds crazy, but have that conversation either internally with yourself or with a partner, or what’s up? Your friend has an accountability partner with your friend. That’s a great way of making sure that you keep it on track. So just go through that process, recognize that you’re having those cravings, then go and have yourself a glass of water. OK, wait ten minutes. And I say this all the time, but it works so well every single time that of the ten minutes when it’s had time to get processed. It’s unlikely that you still feel hungry now there’s a difference between hunger and cravings. Now, the other area that I always go towards is that if you are consistently what you believe to be craving sweet stuff, it’s generally fats that the body’s craving. Now, unfortunately, in these products, they are really bad fats. And you might be thinking, well, all facts about no, they’re not.

We need fats in our diet. We need good omega three, six and nine fats in our diet. And we need various different ratios of those. Mainly, we need omega 3s. The brain is 60 percent fat and the brain needs fat in order to function. OK, but the problem with these products is particularly that crisps, sweets and chocolate are a really bad inflammatory vegetable oil fats in these products. What that means is that it can create inflammation in the body, which at the time I’m recording this, when we’re talking about immune systems, we want to have the least amount, zero inflammation in the body so that when we have viruses, things like this, the body has the capability to deal with this stuff. If you’re constantly inflamed, it’s already trying to fight wages for daily living. And then you add a virus on top and that’s what compounds it and that’s when you get very, very sick. But we need fats. And so it could be your body craving fats. So I’d look at the diet through the rest of your day. Are you having oily fish? Are you having eggs or are you having nuts? Are you having real butter? Yes, real butter. None of this margarine spread because, again, it has really bad inflammatory fats in it. I don’t care if it’s Olivia. I don’t care if it’s Lurpak, all the others have bad inflammatory fats in them. So we want to have real butter. So making sure you get enough fats in your diet and amino acids, amino acids are coming from food.

Mainly some of the core amino acids come from red meat, from chicken. So we want to be sure we have a balanced protein source on our plate. Okay, so we’ll have our fish. We have red meat. We have chicken. If you’re vegetarian, make sure you have some legumes, some beans, things like that. Okay, making sure we get a good protein source. Protein is satiating. So we’re filling. So we’re filling ourselves up so we don’t feel hungry in the evenings. And then like I said, routine is a big thing. If you for if each evening you are going through the same routine, having your dinner, you’re sorting out the kids, you sitting down to TV, you’re watching the same mix-up, go in a different room, watch a different program, read a book, then is breaking that cycle is breaking that habit that when you get to that point in the evening and you start delving into the sweet in the snack covid that you’ve changed your environment, you’ve changed your habit. So, yeah, I mean, the scientific side of it, obviously with the serotonin and the dopamine is a really important one to understand because it’s not that you’re weak, it’s not that you’re weak willed. It’s not necessarily that you’ve even got an issue understanding how the serotonin, the dopamine, works from a neurotransmitter perspective in the brain.

You can understand why you’re behaving like you are OK. So put those things in place. Really will enable you to kind of avoid this. So it was a sure episode today, but I really, really hope that helps. So really, to summarize what I’ve said, first of all, change your environment, change your habits. If you can change your environment, do something different in the evening, keep the mind occupied, it’s likely that you won’t even feel like you need to snack. Secondly, if you can run the capsule cupboard method, OK, so you don’t even have the products in the house. If you can’t, then have your family make it again. Make it again with the kids and the wife, the partner. Hide it so, so, so you can’t find it OK. If you can’t find it, you can’t eat it then. Thirdly, it has some water. OK, I have some water. And then see if you still feel hungry and if you still feel hungry after that, maybe have some fruit, but really, I would encourage you not to eat three hours before you go to sleep. So you’ve got to sleep at 10 o’clock at night. You don’t want to be eating past seven o’clock. Give you a chance. Your digestive system starts to process what’s left and then your heart rate lowers and you get a good, decent night’s sleep because that is the catalyst to that to then it’s just a snowball effect the next day, OK? And you potentially will overeat or eat the wrong things, say the wrong things, but eat things that are good for your overall health the next day.

OK, so those are the four things that’s going to come out with a fifth of them. I can’t remember. The fifth one is. But yeah, I really, really hope this helps. And really the message from this episode today is that you’re not alone. There are lots of people, lots of men. I would say the majority of men struggle with this based on my experiences in coaching coachmen over the years. So like I said, if you are interested in the TT40 method, there is a digital program that you can do yourself, the group coaching and then there is the one to one coaching. So if you go to TT40.fitterhealthierdad.com for the digital program or coaching.fitterhealthierdad.com, or you can email me [email protected], and then we can go through, the options are available to you. So that’s it for this episode. I really hope you’ve enjoyed it and you get some value from it. And I look forward to seeing you soon.

Thanks for listening to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please hit subscribe. And I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes. All the other things mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes and a full transcription is over at fitterhealthierdad.com.