Dessert after dinner, or a little “midnight snack” when you’re having a late-night, are indulgences that most of us have enjoyed at least once or twice. But there are certain foods that can affect your ability to get a great night’s sleep. Additionally, eating some foods late at night can derail your weight loss or maintenance. Some foods can even lead to compromised health if eaten right before bed. Here are the top foods to avoid at night:
1. Soda: Soda is a bad choice at night for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that caffeine is a stimulant. If you struggle with insomnia or getting enough sleep, guzzling caffeine right before bed will keep you tossing and turning even worse than usual. The second reason is that soda is acidic, and caffeine actually causes the stomach to create more acid. Laying down right after ingesting an acidic substance causes reflux in many individuals.
2. Ice Cream: Ice cream is one of the most common sweet desserts treats to eat late at night, but it’s also one of the worst for late-night cravings. When you ingest that much sugar right before a long period of inactivity, you are setting your body up to store that as fat. And the fat from dairy in ice cream is technically an energy source for the body. You’re prepping it for a bout of activity and then resting, which is confusing for your body’s system. High-sugar foods right before bed have been linked to nightmares as well.
3. Celery: Before you start thinking this list will be full of your favorite foods, celery is another food that you should never eat before bed. This is because celery is a natural diuretic, meaning it pushes water through your system. Eating celery right before you go to sleep means that you’ll be up at least a few times to urinate more often than usual.
4. Pizza: Pizza is one of the most common late-night snacks. It’s easy to grab and eat, it tastes great, and it satisfies hunger thanks to the carbs and cheese. But those carbs and saturated fat that make you feel full will make your insulin levels jump overnight, and be stored as fat when you don’t use them for activity right away. For those who struggle to control their blood sugar, eating pizza after about 9:00 at night is a big no-no.
5. Protein: Big servings of meat, especially red meat (but also poultry), can lead to a restless night of sleep. Most Americans eat a large portion of meat at dinner, but in fact, for good sleep habits, it’s better to get your protein in early and eat less meat at dinner. Protein requires an extensive digestion process that keeps the body active during your sleeping hours. Your system won’t have the chance to rest and recharge for the next day if the body is busy digesting that monster-sized steak.
6. Milk: Many of us grew up having a glass of warm milk to help us drift off to sleep, but many studies have shown that milk is not a good bedtime snack. The lactose content in milk is a sugar that can cause a major blood sugar crash overnight. If you often wake up feeling light-headed, or like you simply can’t focus on anything until that first sugary coffee hits your system, your late-night glass of milk could be the culprit.
By avoiding these six foods right before bed, along with any food that is high in sugar, fat, or carbohydrates, you’ll feel more rested and focused throughout the day.