Eating a heavy meal before bedtime is a habit for some, and a necessity for others. However, when it comes to risks associated with it, we’re still on the fence about it. Some people say it’s perfectly safe, while others dread it because they know they can easily get more than what they bargained for.
In the end, there are pros and cons to everything. Still, the following dangers could easily make our lives a bit worse – and they are all associated with late-night overeating.
If we decide that we are just too hungry not to eat a heavy meal before going to bed, there’s one side effect that might make us finally do something about our bad eating habits: acid reflux. When our esophagus doesn’t close properly after we have had a full meal, the acid from our stomach can go up into it and start to burn.
This overall feeling of discomfort is bad enough when it happens while we’re still out and about. But just imagine how horrible it feels when we’re lying down. It won’t go away until we digest our food, and given that a heavy meal takes at least three hours to be digested, we could be in for a sleepless night. Furthermore, there are long-term risks related to acid reflux. If not treated or prevented, it could damage the esophagus permanently and ultimately lead to cancer.
Heavy meals can overwhelm our digestion and lead to stomach pain, which could easily prevent us from falling asleep. Nevertheless, there’s an even worse situation than this one: when we eat a heavy meal full of things we probably shouldn’t be eating. Anything we’re intolerant to can lead to stomach pain and frequent visits to the bathroom during the night. As such, by the time the pain subsides, there won’t be enough time to get some rest.
A heavy meal full of food that stimulates our digestion is one of the things that can trigger insomnia. Stuff like chocolate, caffeine, tea, and meat require our body to be alert so that we can digest them properly. However, if we’re trying to fall asleep at the same time, something has to come first. Usually, the food always wins, and we are left staring at the TV until our body gets back to normal.
Finally, there’s the dreaded weight gain most experts warn us about. If we eat anything before bedtime, we could wake up one day with 20 pounds more! Nevertheless, this is not entirely true.
Of course, we should avoid heavy meals late at night, as we just don’t burn enough calories while we’re sleeping. Our metabolism and digestion naturally slow down once the night falls.
Still, we gain weight because we load up on carbs before falling asleep. A salad won’t do as much harm as pasta will. Therefore, mindful eating is the right way to go. If we just have to eat before bedtime because we’re starving, we should opt for a light snack (a small amount of fruit, protein, and similar). That way, we’ll calm down the “hunger monster” in us and avoid the weight gain.
In the end, the dangers of eating a heavy meal before bedtime are various, and the effects will depend based on our overall lifestyle. However, what’s certain is that we just won’t be comfortable while trying to go to sleep with a too-full stomach. Thus, smaller meals during the day will solve all our issues – all we need is a proper routine and a bit of will to lead a genuinely healthy life.