We commonly hear we should avoid eating late at night, particularly if we are concerned about excess weight. But more than just hearing that we should avoid something, it’s important to understand the reason behind the advice.
I see the importance of avoiding eating late at night to be two-fold.
The primary issue is about stomach acid. Our stomach produces a very strong acid that is a key factor for digestion. When there isn’t enough of this acid, or if it’s imbalanced, then digestion is impaired. This can be problematic because if food isn’t fully digested, nutrients may not be absorbed, and food can even begin to ferment in our digestive system (cue the gas and bloating!). Our stomach acid is highest in the morning and lowest in the evening. So, our bodies are ready for food during the day, but not so much in the evening as it begins to wind down for resting and repairing. When we eat late at night, especially if we over eat, we are not able to properly digest this food and it can sit in our system making us feel like crap. In addition, this local Kitsilano dentist states that the food residue from late night eating can wreak havoc on your teeth.
The second reason to avoid eating late at night is more of an emotional reason, rather than a biological reason. Let’s get real, typically if we’re eating late at night, we’re not eating vegetables – we’re probably eating more processed things like chocolate, chips and whatever else we enjoy eating while relaxing and watching our favorite shows.
Not only is more processed food hard on digestion, but if we eat this food later at night, it’s even harder for our bodies to deal with.
Next time you reach for food late at night, ask yourself if you are truly hungry (e.g. are you bored, looking for comfort, etc.). If you’re not hungry, enjoy a cup of tea, simply drink some water or even brush your teeth to reduce cravings – your body will be thankful the next day.