We’ve all had this experience before. You’re getting ready for bed, showering or taking off your makeup, or maybe doing a bedtime yoga session. The day has come to a close, and the bed is calling out your name. You’ve finished just about everything you’re going to do today.
Then you begin to notice it: you’re starting to crave a bedtime snack. The question is, should you eat that snack or not? Is it a bad idea to eat right before bed, or is it okay to go ahead and eat the snack? Will eating right before bed ruin your weight loss goals?
Should You Eat Before Bed
It’s been said that eating right before bed contributes to weight gain.
Is that true, though? All of the above depends on you, your day, and your goals.
According to WebMD, “the conventional wisdom today is that a calorie is a calorie, regardless of when you eat it, and that what causes weight gain is simply eating more calories than you burn.” (WebMD)
When it comes to weight loss goals, it is more important to understand your biology, your personal priorities, and your habits than to follow so-called “conventional wisdom”. It’s less important to follow what people say about eating right before bed. What’s more important is understanding both the realities of eating right before bed, and figuring out your personal relationship with food.
It might be that you shouldn’t eat before bed in order to reach your weight loss goals. On the other hand, you might be okay eating before bed. This will all depend on your physiology, your psychology, and your habits. Let’s look at the repercussions of eating right before bed in order to frame the conversation.
How Long Should You Eat Before Bed?
There are plenty of physiological implications of eating right before bedtime. Here are what some of those physiological effects entail (VeryWellHealth):
- Nighttime heartburn could result from eating too soon before bed. Lying down too soon after eating can cause reflux of stomach acids into the esophagus in some people, which can result in heartburn.
- Restlessness may also come as a result of eating or drinking too soon before going to bed. Alcoholic and high-caffeine beverages especially, can affect the quality of sleep or prevent sleep altogether.
- Eating too soon before bed has the potential of changing your quality of sleep. Asking whether eating before bed makes you fat, might miss the point. Changing your quality of sleep may affect other aspects of your overall health and well-being, both mental and physical.
Poor sleep quality can affect other health goals, including weight loss. So while eating too late in the day, by itself, might not be the reason for having trouble with your weight loss goals, it might be a contributing factor. (ClevelandClinic)
Most dietary professionals advise avoiding eating approximately two hours before bed, (VeryWellHealth) depending on what you eat and your metabolism.
But rather than focusing inordinate amounts of energy on figuring out whether it’s bad to eat before bed or how long you should wait after eating before going to bed, it might be more valuable to examine your relationship with food as it stands overall.
Obsessing About When And What You Eat Is Counterintuitive
When coming up with dietary strategies that truly aid your weight loss and general health goals, the most effective way to approach them is from the ground up. There are a lot of maladaptive stigmas underlying food culture that badly influence your relationship with food. If you never address the rules and culture informing the psychological underpinnings of your eating habits, you will never truly free yourself from the influences that dictate unhealthy dietary habits.
The fact is that a lot of dietary advice out there reinforces a culture of obsessing over what we eat and how much we eat. It drills a number of rhetorical questions into your head, sometimes to the point of maladaptive rumination, rhetorical questions like:
- How many calories are you eating?
- When are you eating them?
- How many calories do you burn every day?
While all of these numbers seemingly relate to your weight loss goals, they can cause you to overly obsess over what you eat and when you eat. This eventually sabotages your weight loss goals in the long run.
In reality, the most important edge to gain in your weight loss journey is to truly free yourself from all the damaging rules and stigmatizing cultural mores surrounding food. The Ultimate Freedom Approach was designed to free you from both the psychological and physiological aspects that perpetuate your unhealthy relationship with food. This allows you to reach your weight loss goals, without dieting.
In the end, it’s less about whether you should eat before bedtime or not, and more about understanding your relationship with food at its core.