Growing in size
The size of her body was never something that Kate Archibald thought too much about. While she worried about her looks just as much as every other teenager, she wasn’t one to go to crazy lengths to stay slim. However, after she found herself slowly gaining weight month after month, she quickly became concerned.
There was nothing she was doing to justify the changes in her body, so why was this happening to her? She thought she’d never get her answer until a discovery one morning revealed everything.
Just your average teenager
Millions of people go off to college every year hoping to have the time of their life. After all, they say that the years you spend there are some of the best you’ll ever have. Kate was hopeful that her time at college would be just as exciting, especially as she was determined to make the most of every day.
She made new friends, went out partying; and lived like there was no tomorrow. In that regard, Kate was just like most other students, but she was hiding a secret.
Shrinking in the wash
One of the biggest problems that college students face is putting on weight. Their diets are notorious for being unhealthy, especially when the cure for their many hangovers tends to be fast food. It’s not out of the question for students to pack on the pounds when they leave home, and Kate was no exception.
However, she couldn’t understand why she was gaining weight. She didn’t think her diet was particularly bad, yet her clothes were starting to get tight. Were they shrinking in the wash?
The pounds didn’t pile on immediately but instead appeared gradually. However, there seemed to be no end to her weight gain. As time went on, she continued to get bigger, and she still couldn’t understand why. After a couple of semesters, she’d gone up several dress sizes, jumping from a UK 10 to a 16.
The added weight made Kate feel self-conscious, more because she didn’t know what was happening to her as opposed to having a fuller figure. She had to find out what was going on with her body.
Weight gain is different for everyone, and understanding how much of an impact food and exercise will have on your body depends on your metabolism. Some people can gorge themselves on whatever they want without worrying about the repercussions. This is because their metabolism is fast enough to keep the weight at bay.
In contrast, there are others who can’t even eat a slice of cake without feeling its effects on their waistline. Had Kate’s metabolism slowed down and made everything she ate that much more destructive to her body?
Getting to the bottom of things
The student knew that the answer wouldn’t come to her if she just sat around waiting for it. Something was going on, and she had to do a little investigating to find the answers she was looking for. Of course, Kate had no idea where to even start.
Aside from doing research online, she was limited with her options. There was no evidence to suggest what was happening to her, and unless something came along, she would always be clueless. That’s when her flatmates gave her the hint she needed.
Where’s the food gone?
Around the time that Kate was growing bigger, her flatmates were losing their patience over food going missing in the fridge. They’d wake up in the morning to find some of their groceries weren’t there anymore, and they wanted to know why. They turned on Kate, assuming she must be the person responsible for it.
However, the student had no idea what was going on either. She promised that she hadn’t touched anyone’s food – she’d have remembered if she had. It’s not like she was eating it in her sleep…
A shameful discovery
The ball finally dropped for Kate after she slept over at a friend’s house. Although everything had been normal when she’d fallen asleep, it was a different story come morning. The student woke to find herself surrounded by chocolate wrappers which certainly hadn’t been there earlier.
She couldn’t have eaten them without realizing, could she? Judging by the taste in her mouth and the chocolate around her lips, there was only one answer to that question. Kate had gorged herself in her sleep, and not for the first time!
Eating in her sleep
Finally, everything made sense. The missing food and the unexplained weight gain were connected, just not in the way that Kate had expected. Somehow, she’d been getting up in her sleep, satisfying her appetite, then going back to bed like nothing had happened.
She’d gotten away with it for months without even realizing what was going on, but now that she knew, how did she stop it? Moreover, why was it happening in the first place? Surely sleep eating wasn’t normal behavior for someone like her.
What Kate was suffering from was known as Nocturnal Eating Disorder. It’s not particularly common, but it can be dangerous if nothing is done to treat it. You can’t eat that much food every night and not expect to deal with the consequences.
The student had already gone up several dress sizes because of the disorder, and her weight would only continue to increase if she allowed her sleep eating to keep going. It didn’t help that what she was choosing to snack on wasn’t particularly good for her body.
An insatiable appetite
Every night that Kate engaged in her sleep eating, she was filling up on thousands of extra calories. They came from things like chocolate bars and crisps which aren’t exactly known for being healthy. All that fat and sugar was doing bad things to her health, and they were slowly expanding Kate’s waistline.
She wasn’t merely restricting herself to junk food, though. Whatever was in the kitchen was free game, and the student got her hands on a vast assortment of things, not all of which she even liked.
Kate recalled several incidents during her bouts of sleep eating when she’d wake up with a puffy face because of what she’d eaten. The student was slightly allergic to peanuts, but in her sleeping state, she couldn’t differentiate between the things she should and shouldn’t eat.
It’s a good thing that her aversion to peanuts wasn’t serious; otherwise, her midnight excursions to the kitchen could have been the end of her. However, even if her allergies weren’t severe, she still didn’t want to wake up with a swollen face every morning.
Going too far
The student realized that things had gone too far when she woke up one January morning to find a half-eaten wheel of cheese sitting on the floor. It was clear that she’d had yet another midnight snack in her sleep, and it wasn’t simply the doing of the friendly neighborhood mice.
While we’re partial to a bit of cheddar, eating that much in one sitting would probably leave us feeling a little worse for wear. Seeing that demolished wheel of cheese on the floor certainly didn’t settle Kate’s stomach.
Locking herself away
Desperate to stop herself from binging in the middle of the night, Kate tried whatever she could to stop herself from sleep eating. The student even locked herself in her room whenever she went to bed in the hope it would prevent her from sneaking off to the kitchen.
She stocked up on healthy snacks and kept them in close range so that if she got hungry during the night, she’d be prepared. Unfortunately, none of that stopped her from making regular trips to the fridge in her sleep.
Wiz in the kitchen
Kate surprised herself with what she was capable of doing in the middle of the night. Rather than just eating what was immediately available to her, she sometimes went to the effort of preparing meals for herself. Apparently, she was proficient at using the toaster while completely out of it.
Her flatmates expressed relief that her nighttime cooking skills didn’t go further than making toast because they were afraid Kate would burn down the flat. There’s no knowing what a sleeping person would do if they tried using an oven.
Paying what she owes
When the truth about what Kate had been doing came to light, her flatmates saw the lighter side of things. Although they were furious that their food had been going missing, they realized that their friend had no control over herself when she ate in her sleep.
However, that didn’t stop them expecting Kate to pay them back whenever she gorged herself on their groceries. The student would regularly go out to the store and stock up on what she’d eaten just so her flatmates wouldn’t be too upset.
A symptom of the past
Kate’s Nocturnal Eating Disorder is believed to have been caused by the medication she’d taken for ADHD when she was younger. The student had been prescribed Adderall which has the unfortunate side effect of suppressing a person’s appetite.
She’d never eat much after taking the pills, but once they wore off, she’d find herself starving. This usually happened in the middle of the night, so Kate would wake up and eat whatever she could get her hands on to satisfy her stomach. The cravings only intensified as she got older.
An unfortunate side effect
By the time that Kate was in her final year of university, she didn’t really need the Adderall anymore. However, it had already left its mark on the student. All those years she’d spent snacking in the middle of the night had conditioned her body to be hungry when she was asleep.
Now that she was off the medication, Kate wasn’t waking up to satisfy her cravings, but she was still stuffing her face every other night. She’d learned a behavior that she needed to get rid of.
Fighting the fat
To try and combat the adverse effects of her Nocturnal Eating Disorder, Kate had to spend a lot of time at the gym. Every time she woke up after a binge, she felt compelled to hit the treadmill or bike to try and work off some of those calories.
Even if she couldn’t control when and what she ate, she could at least prevent her midnight snacks from expanding her waistline. If the gym wasn’t already a regular part of her schedule, it was now.
Controlling her body
Since discovering what she was doing in her sleep, Kate has been able to control her unhealthy habits better. Although preventing her late-night ventures wasn’t easy, Nocturnal Eating Disorder is a treatable problem.
By monitoring brain activity and engaging in exercises to relieve stress, people who suffer from this can move past their nightly binges. Medication can also be administered to suppress the need to eat while sleeping, although it’s not always recommended. Sleeping pills can simply confuse the person, rather than stopping them from eating.
A better life
In the few years since she struggled with her sleep eating, Kate’s quality of life has vastly improved. She’s been able to work off the additional weight that she’d gained from her binging, and she’s kept her waistline where she wants it.
All those times she’d stolen food at college seem like something of a distant memory now that she’s moved on with her life, although there’s every chance her sleep eating will rear its ugly head again. Once you learn behavior like there, does it ever really go away?