Sometimes you have to eat late. Maybe it’s a dinner with friends, or you were just so busy that dinner got pushed deep into the evening.
But is eating late a hazard to your health?
It can be.
Two main factors might help determine any dangers associated with a nocturnal meal. The first is how often you do it. The other is how closely it’s consumed before bedtime. What and how much you eat can also play a role.
Research suggests that when people go to bed soon after a meal, they are more likely to have higher cortisol levels, greater glucose intolerance, and negative changes in fat metabolism.
Eating close to bedtime can also make it harder to fall asleep. Your body has to do a lot of work to digest and absorb food, and that in and of itself can keep you awake. Although your head may feel tired and seem like it’s shutting down, the rest of your body has to rev up.
This can have some metabolic consequences, as eating late runs counter to the body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Lost sleep, which may occur from late eating, can play a role in a host of conditions ranging from brain fog to heart disease.
If it does look like you’ll have to eat late, there are some steps you can take to minimize its potential impacts.
The first is to have some food on hand to fill in for a meal when needed. When eating late, you’ll want to try and get low-calorie, nutrient-dense food that is easy for you to digest and absorb. Eggs, vegetables, yogurt, fruit, or other light options are ideal.
Just don’t skip eating. It could lead to an insatiable appetite the following day.
Of course, if you’re out to dinner with friends, eat whatever you want. You’re there to enjoy yourself!