I Need Something

My client, Megan, has been getting off track in the evening hours. She told me in session this week that she’s generally doing really well during the day, but ends up snacking too much in the hours between dinner and bed. I asked Megan what thought she might be having around that time, and she said, “It’s probably, ‘I need something.’” Megan admitted that it wasn’t necessarily that she was hungry in that moment (she knew that if she had already eaten all her calories then her body has had enough food), but it was her mind that was feeling unsatisfied.

Megan and I discussed what that “something” might be. I reminded Megan that a lot of dieters get off track in the evening because they’re tired and what their bodies really need is sleep. They’re feeling drained and depleted and their bodies are saying, “If you want me to stay awake, I need some energy.”  Dieters interpret that as, “I’m hungry and I need food,” but it’s not quite the same.  Megan and I decided that the first thing she would do when she had the thought “I need something,” is ask herself, “Am I feeling really tired?” If the answer is yes, then if at all possible she’ll go to bed! Megan told me that she often delays going to bed because she has more tasks to finish and she doesn’t want to forget or interrupt her momentum. I pointed out to Megan that if she goes to bed earlier, it might be possible to get up a little earlier and finish her tasks. Or she can figure out when she could feasibly get them done the next day. And I advised her to put a post-it note on her computer with her remaining tasks to ease her mind about forgetting. Megan agreed that this was a good plan and she made the following Response Card to remind her:

When I’m tired in the evening, GO TO BED! Staying up won’t help me, it will just make me want to eat. It’s worth it to interrupt my momentum and get enough sleep. Doing so will make it so much easier to be productive tomorrow and I’ll get to feel well-rested all day. 

woman hula hooping

Megan and I then discussed what she would do if she had the “I need something” thought but she didn’t identify that she was feeling particularly tired. I told Megan that what she was feeling could be many things: anxiety, stress, boredom, loneliness, etc. And the good news is that since it’s not hunger that she feels in the moment, food is not the only solution. I tasked Megan with coming up with a list of 10 activities that she could do in the evening when she felt that way, and then make a Response Card reminding her of those alternatives. Megan made the following Response Card:

In the evening, when I feel like I need “something” – it’s not food that I need because it’s not hunger that I’m experiencing. Instead of eating, do one or more of the following:

  1. Take a bath
  2. Listen to music
  3. Dance around my living room
  4. Hula hoop for 5 minutes
  5. Do some light weight training
  6. Go for a walk (outside OR inside)
  7. Call a friend or my mom
  8. Read a magazine article
  9. Color in my coloring book
  10. Plan a fun activity (buy theater/movie/museum tickets, set up a walk with a friend, etc.)

With this plan and these Response Cards in place, Megan felt much more prepared to handle the “I need something” thought that week!

3 replies
  1. Iuliia
    Iuliia says:

    When I am find myself eating too much in the evening it seems that I did not have any sabotagin thoughts and any reason for this? How I can identifi the problem and to make a escape plan?


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