Popular opinion states that eating late at night causes weight gain and may be bad for your health. Evolving trends in nutrition and weight management, however, are leaning towards the tenet that burning less calories than you take in and use (regardless of when said calories are ingested) is the fundamental reason for weight gain. Nonetheless, recent studies show that late-night eating should be avoided for a number of health reasons.
PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH LATE-NIGHT EATING
a. DISRUPTION OF YOUR SLEEP CYCLE: Eating late at night affects your sleep cycle, making it difficult to fall asleep and causing you to wake up more often.
b. INCREASED URINATION AND EXCRETION: Eating late means the food will be digested during your sleeping hours; thus, you may need to wake up during the night to eliminate the waste products. If you are really hungry late at night, consider eating foods with high amounts of fiber, such as whole grains; these products take a long time to digest, and won't need to be excreted for at least eight hours.
CURBING THE HABIT
The easiest way to curb the urge to eat late at night is to get a good night's sleep; however, this may not always be possible due to personal schedules and constraints. Here are a few suggestions for curbing late night eating:
1. EAT BREAKFAST: If you plan to have a long night, make sure to eat a healthy breakfast; skipping meals during the day – especially breakfast – increases cravings for foods at night.
2. DON'T EAT AND WATCH TV: When you get hungry, you can have a healthy midnight snack, but not in front of the television set. Distracted eating decreases satisfaction and leads to overeating.
3. KEEP JUNK FOOD AWAY: stock the kitchen with healthy foods and snacks, and keep them within easy reach. Avoid sugary snacks and stick with nuts, fruits and vegetables.
4. EXERCISE, MOVE AROUND, DO SOMETHING: If being idle makes you crave for food, then get busy. Exercising or just picking a book to read will keep the temptation for unplanned eating at bay.