List: Nighttime snacks to avoid

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Eating near bedtime can hinder sleep but some foods are worse than others.

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Bedtime or nighttime snacks can help satiate the hungers and for some, it may limit late night snacking. Good health is more than just what you eat but also eating the right foods at the right time. This being said, you have to be careful. If you’re hankering for a snack or beverage, you have to choosey. Do not just reach for the first thing that sounds good. In fact, some foods might do much more harm than good. A light snack like hot air popped popcorn, crackers, or an apple is likely fine, but a fat-filled heavy meal such as pizza or pasta may hinder the quality fo you sleep. Below is a list of ten nighttime snacks you should avoid:

  1. Chocolate: Although chocolate contains antioxidants, eating at night is not a good idea as it contains stimulants such as caffeine and theobromine that can make you awake for a long time promote sphincter weakening. These compounds increase reflux by loosening the sphincter that limits leakage from your stomach into the esophagus. It can not only contribute to weight gain but can also lead to poor sleep and inflammation of the esophagus caused by chronic leakage.
  2. Coffee: Do I really need to explain this one? Caffeine is a stimulant. Most people use it after waking up in the morning or to promote alertness and concentration during the day. Caffeine cannot replace sleep, but it can temporarily make us feel more alert. While some might be able to have a late-night espresso without losing a wink of sleep, most are not so lucky. If caffeine affects your sleep, try not to have any later than six hours before bedtime. Similar to chocolate, it also promotes esophageal reflux.
  3. Pizza: Although it is delicious, that cheesy entree might give you nightmares. It is heavy and hard to digest and the tomato acid is terrible when you lay down to sleep. Eating it as a late night snack or dinner adds a lot of extra calories that you probably do not need.
  4. Alcohol: Quality sleep and alcohol do not mix. It might increase the length but not the quality of sleep. At least 27 studies show that alcohol hinders the quality of sleep. If you have sleep problems fo just need a good night sleep, just say no to alcohol.
  5. Sugary cereal and desserts: A bowl of cereal or that piece of cheesecake are easy to grab at night, but they are not the best choice at night. Lower sugar choices are a better option. Sugary foods are readily digested and rapidly absorbed and thus lead to a rapid spike in your blood sugar. Sugar can also increase hormones that will reduce your sleep quality and duration.
  6. Nuts and nut butter: Both nuts and nut butter are difficult to digest and increase reflux from the stomach into the esophagus.
  7. Spicy foods: Spicy foods can not only simulate the tastebuds and irritate the stomach. Outside of causing heartburn, these foods tend to heavy and promote poor sleep.
  8. Cheese and dairy: Both are high in calcium and fat which and end in reflux from the stomach into the esophagus. Also, calcium is the signal to produce more acid.
  9. Citrus: Citrus food induce gastritis and esophagitis. Sugars and carbohydrates have been shown to reduce the quality and quantity of sleep.
  10. Soda: The bubbles and caffeine can increase leakage from the stomach and induce esophagitis. Regular soda is also loaded with sugar which is stimulating and terrible for your teeth.

The bottom line: Although there is not a lot of research behind my suggestion, I recommend against you eating near bedtime. If you must, avoid these foods. Good sleep can lead to more successful weight loss.

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About the Author

ChuckH
I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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