Too often we have jam-packed schedules and have no time to eat the right food at standard times. Because of this, we are left eating right before bed, rather than at 5 or 6 o’clock.
On the go, it can be difficult to make healthy choices in the first place. Combining negative meal options with poor timing can be detrimental to your health. Fast-food meals only an hour or so before bed can cause health issues and put you at risk of more dangerous health problems in the future.
Research has found that eating dinner after 7 o’clock has a large impact on blood pressure. In fact, eating a late dinner can double your risk of hypertension, or high blood pressure.
Eating late becomes a pattern, and it leaves the body no time to simply rest and lower its blood pressure. If blood pressure remains raised, it increases the risk of heart disease and heart attacks ("non-dipper hypertension"). Eating dinner early in the evening can allow for greater blood pressure control.
When eating late, you may end up experiencing painful heartburn. It is better to give your body enough time to process food and hence stop the stomach acids from crawling up too far, thus causing acid reflux.
Eating at a late hour often leads to skipped breakfasts as well. Sleeping right after a meal can make the process of digestion pretty slow. This can leave you feeling bloated and void of appetite upon waking. In fact, nearly ¾ of those that eat a late lunch also skip their breakfast. Skipping breakfast can also increase the risk of heart disease. A skipped breakfast and late dinner in combination can therefore be very detrimental for your health.
While dinner is usual thought to be a large meal, it is better for one’s health to keep dinner small. Each day’s meals should be similar to a pyramid – start big on the bottom and get smaller at the top. In a study at King's College London, those that ate smaller meals earlier in the evening were less likely to experience non-dipper hypertension. 1 Another alternative would be eating several very small meals throughout the day in order to prevent severe hunger and thus, excessive late night eating.
Late night eating can also lead to obesity, as well as insulin resistance. These two factors are leading causes for diabetes. To avoid the desire to overeat later in the day, try not to skip meals and be sure to eat adequate portions earlier in the day.
If trying to decide whether or not to pick on a late night snack before hitting the pillow, remember the harmful effects it may have, and try to say no. Shoot for a delicious, filling breakfast for when you wake up instead.