You must have heard it many times, that eating right before going to bed is not good for you. Turns out that this common advice is correct, and doing so not only causes weight gain, but it also leads to metabolic syndromes like type 2 diabetes and obesity (1).
If you have been eating just before bed, stop this habit and switch to an early dinner. If you eat late continuously, it has a cascade of harmful effects on your body.
How eating just before bedtime harms you?
Digestive issues: If you have ever had a big meal for dinner, you may have noticed discomfort and/or trouble falling asleep. The primary reason is a heavy meal requires extra energy for digestion. The relaxed metabolic state of your body during the night does not support digestion. This can lead to heart burn and sleep issues (2).
Weight gain: Eating before bedtime, causes weight gain because of two things. Your ability to burn food and satiety are both low at night. Studies show that your ability to burn the same amount of food to calories is reduced compared to day time (3). Research also shows that the food’s satiety value (ability to satisfy hunger) is lowest in the night than earlier times of the day leading to overeating (4).
Acid reflux: An upright spine is ideal for proper digestion. When you go to bed soon after you eat, you are not in an upright position. When you lie down, your digestive juices and stomach has to work against gravity. This leads to indigestion and could result in acid reflux.
The net result of eating late in the night is indigestion and weight gain. If work or lack of time pushes you to eat a late dinner, it is time to change this habit. You will avoid many health issues such as blood sugar imbalance, heart burn, sleep problems and chronic indigestion.
How can you break this habit?
Follow a standard dinner time: Adopt a standard dinner time, preferably around 6 or 7 pm and encourage the rest of your family to follow it. When the whole family participates, it will be easy to adhere to this habit.
Don’t eat large meals: If you cannot take meals at least 2 hours before bed time, you don’t have to skip meals. Take a light meal instead of a heavy one. Here are some examples of light meals you can try: Baked salmon, half cup of brown rice with beans, and grilled vegetable salad.
Say ‘’No’’ to sugary desserts: Pie, ice cream cakes, and other sugary foods do not count as light meals. These foods spike your blood sugar and plummet later causing sleep disturbances. If you do crave something sweet, reach for a small piece of dark chocolate or berries to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Fluctuations on blood sugar levels can also be the reason for constant sugar cravings. You can consult with our functional medicine expert to find ways to curb sugar cravings.
Taking a herbal supplement like Protoglysen, a combination of phytonutrients, amino acids and herbs can help support healthy blood sugar and curb sugar cravings.
Stock up on healthy snacks: For those that stay up late to study or work, it is best to choose healthy snack alternatives to keep hunger at bay. Celery sticks with peanut butter, apples, a small cup of yogurt or a probiotic drink can get you through the extra hours you work at night.
For those that feel hungry very quickly or have a big appetite, we recommend App control, a dietary supplement that curbs unhealthy cravings.
Try herbal tea: A warm cup of caffeine-free tea at night is relaxing and soothing. For those looking to lose weight, adding some MCT oil to your favorite tea is a great way to boost it. This has two benefits – tea relaxes you and induces sleep, the MCT oil helps your body to burn fat effectively.
Eating closer to sleep time ,impacts your health. You can avoid it by making conscious changes to your habits. You will notice the difference in your health and energy levels with these small, yet essential changes.
- Kinsey Aw & Ormsbee MJ. The health impact of nighttime eating: Old & New Perspectives. Nutrients 2015. Apr 7 (4). 2648 – 2652
- Reid KJ et.al. Meal timing influences higher daily caloric intake in healthy adults. Nutr Res 2014, Nov 34 (11) 930 – 935
- Romon M et.al. Circadian variation of diet-induced thermogenesis. AJCN 1993 Apr 57 (4): 476 – 80
- De Castro JM. The time of day of food intake influences overall intake in humans. J Nutr 2004. Jan 134 (1): 104- 11