5 Foods You Should Never Eat Before Bed

Article posted in: Nutrition
person cutting red cabbage on a cutting board

Eating certain foods or drinking caffeinated beverages right before bed is bad for our diet and sleep cycle, making it harder to live a healthy lifestyle. When we eat right before bed, it does double the damage to our waistline. Not only does eating late at night make it difficult to burn off calories in rest mode, but it will also hurt your sleep cycle and trigger unhealthy cravings.

Research connects poor sleep to obesity and weight gain because when we don’t get enough sleep, it alters our brain chemistry to trigger our appetite in unhealthy ways. A study, published in the National Institutes of Health, found that people with sleep deprivation experienced increased appetites and cravings for junk foods compared to those who slept for eight and a half hours a night. Another study, published in PLOS One, found that adults with longer sleep durations had a lower BMI and better metabolism than those with restricted sleep.

Improve your chances of achieving a decent night of shut-eye and avoid packing on pounds from midnight snacks. Find out which foods you should skip before bed, so you can get a full night of restful sleep and prevent cravings or hunger pains the following day!

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Skip these five foods before bed to get a good night’s sleep and avoid cravings the next day!

1. Fried foods

fried foods

Not only is fried food bad for your healthy diet, it’s also one of the foods you should avoid before bed. If you get a late-night snack craving, never satisfy it with a fried food full of fat, grease and sugar that’s sure to keep you up all night. These types of heavy foods take longer to go through your digestive system, so your stomach is hard at work while you’re trying to fall asleep. Eating anything before bedtime isn’t ideal because this is when we want to shut down our brain rather than start up our stomach. Fried foods also have more calories, which are harder to burn when your body is in a restful state. Not to mention, French fries, chips and similar foods are going to sit in your stomach while you lay down, causing everything from bloating and indigestion to upset stomach and heartburn. You’re not going to feel great the next day if you eat anything fatty or fried the night before–and you’re certainly not going to help your weight loss progress.

2. Spicy foods

spicy foods

Spicy ingredients are some of the worst foods to eat at night before you hit the hay. While spicy foods are known to increase metabolism, which benefits weight loss, eating them before bed will ruin your sleep cycle and throw off your diet. Foods like hot sauce, acidic tomato sauce, chili peppers and mustard can open histamine passageways in our bodies that encourage wakefulness. A study, published in The International Journal of Psychophysiology, claims that eating a spicy meal before bed can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep during both light and deep phases of your sleep cycle. Additionally, spicy foods with a lot of heat are notorious for causing heartburn and indigestion, which can keep you tossing and turning in pain while you’re trying to drift asleep.

3. Cured meats or cheeses

before bed

It’s a longstanding myth that eating cheese before bed will cause vivid nightmares aptly named “cheesemares.” While this theory has been debunked, it’s still a bad idea to eat cheese as well as meat before bed due to the high amount of histamines they contain. According to delish.com, antihistamines are used to control inflammatory reactions and are well-known to promote drowsiness. Oppositely, histamines, found in foods such as fish, dairy, vegetables and cured meats and cheeses, cause the body to stay awake. Cured meats also contain high amounts of an amino acid called tyramine that prompts feelings of alertness. Meat and cheese are definitely two of the foods to avoid before bed.

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4. Alcohol or caffeine

before bed

It’s a no brainer to avoid alcohol or caffeine before bedtime because of the way these compounds affect our brain chemistry. According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should skip the stimulants such as coffee, soda, tea, chocolate and other caffeinated foods and beverages before bed to avoid jitters while you’re trying to dream. While many people drink a beer or glass of wine to fall asleep, alcoholic beverages contribute to poor overall sleep quality. Alcohol is a depressant that may help you fall asleep more quickly, but it will disrupt your circadian rhythm (sleep cycle). Many people wake up often in the middle of the night after drinking alcohol and this is because of the way it erratically affects our brain chemistry. Lastly, and most importantly, drinking alcohol prevents our ability to obtain REM sleep, the most restful, rejuvenating and deep kind of sleep. If you wake up in the morning and still feel groggy, drowsy or unrested, you may have missed out on important REM sleep due to drinking.

5. Cruciferous Veggies

before bed

Believe it or not, broccoli is a food that you should avoid eating before bed. It’s hard to imagine a time when it’s ever a bad idea to eat more vegetables, but right before bed is the time to say “NO!”. Just like fried and fatty foods take a long time to digest in the stomach, foods with high amounts of insoluble fiber, such as broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts and cabbage, all slow down the digestive system. If you’d rather catch some ZZZs than be up all night digesting those fibrous veggies, skip the late night snack, according to delish.com–even if it’s considered healthy under normal circumstances.

Don’t know how to stop late night snacking? Unsure how to stop eating before bed? Try these 12 pain free ways to stop eating SO much food! >