Myths and Maneuvers of Eating Before Bed

Myths and Maneuvers of Eating Before Bed

You come home from a late night shift or after partying with friends and you are starving for just about anything. There’s a tray of lasagna waiting to dive into; a slice of chocolate cake calling your name; or a ripe avocado, perfect with a little salt but so many have told you that eating before bed will ruin your sleep and make you fat.

These myths and maneuvers of eating before bed may open your eyes to simple steps you can take to avoid late night eating negative effects. All it takes is a moment to step back and remind yourself what your food choice will do to you while you slumber. Once you are educated in these tactics you may very well be able to chow down, get a good night’s sleep and wake up without an extra spare tire.

Sly Spice

Spicy foods before bed are almost a definite way to burp up some fire. Heartburn, acid reflux and indigestion can all occur from late night spicy eating. Also, spicy foods can act as stimulants so the chances of not being able to fall asleep could increase.

Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, a sleep specialist with the Mayo Clinic, recommends avoiding garlic, pepper, onions, and acid forming choices like orange juice, tomato sauce or fried foods.

Giant Yellow Sleeping Pills

Bananas have long been thought to help induce sleep. Research from the University of Wisconsin, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, report on a discovered gene in fruit flies that positively responds to potassium assisting in sleep.

Bananas are loaded with potassium and magnesium two known muscle relaxants as well as the amino acid L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan is converted in the brain to 5-HTP which in turn releases the feel good neurotransmitter, serotonin and sleep hormone melatonin.

To Sleep, Perchance to Get Fat

Late night eating has long been a red flag for potential weight gain. However, no one discusses foods to avoid and those that carry little weight gain concern. Unfortunately, you will often crave salty, high carb foods late at night, especially if you’ve consumed alcohol.

Reaching for chips, pretzels, fried greasy foods or even canned soup will send your system into a digestive mania that certainly packs on the pounds. In addition, you will most likely wake with such a puffy face you may scare yourself in the mirror.

Stick to cleaned, sliced, fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins that do not exceed 150 calories. Even a piece of plain toast can do the trick as it has a small amount of carbs that should not affect weight gain. They will spike and then cause you to crash, right into your pillow.

Researcher Mike Ormsbee, Ph.D., an FSU assistant professor of exercise science comments,

“If you exercise regularly, eating some small portions before bed can ramp up morning metabolism,”

Night Owl Asthmatics Beware

If you suffer from asthma you may want to think twice before consuming a late night meal. A 2004 study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology stated that,

“Participants with asthma who ate before bed had significantly more day and nighttime gastroesophageal reflux symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and suffocation, than participants who did not. The researchers concluded that bedtime eating habits could have serious, even life-threatening repercussions for asthmatics.” (San Francisco Gate)

The Sugar Cycle

Processed sugar is poison, plain and simple. Eating cakes, cookies, pies, etc. before bed creates the following cycle:

  • Blood sugar spikes
  • The pancreas releases insulin
  • Frequent sugar intake causes excessive insulin released into the bloodstream
  • Blood sugar drops
  • This alerts the adrenals of an emergency
  • The adrenals secrete the stress hormone cortisol
  • Cortisol inflames the body, weakens digestive function and increases weight gain

Eating before bed can be done as long as it is done responsibly. Reaching for salty, sugary, processed foods before bed may be a comfort. However, it is a potential time bomb when it comes to lack of sleep, weight gain, and next day exhaustion. Stick to filtered water, light protein snacks, fresh vegetables, and a natural anti-inflammatory such as tart cherry juice for a well deserved snack that does not negatively affect your sleep.