Late-night snacking: Why you should quit this habit NOW

LATE-NIGHT snacking can be very indulging but not only does it increase our waist lines, it affects our sleep.

It also puts us at risk of diseases such as diabetes and increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies.

Here’s why you should ditch the habit. 

Our bodies crave high-sugar, high-fat and high-salt foods, with typical late-night snack foods including fizzy drinks, juice, chocolate, ice cream and alcohol, some people even take major heavy meals like ‘a bowl of rice’ or ‘eba’ late in the night.

It can be a really difficult habit to stop especially in urban areas like Lagos where heavy traffic might cause you to get in late hungry and necessarily need to eat.

Drinking alcohol also makes us more likely to make bad food choices and indulge our cravings for greasy takeaway food such as deep fried chicken, chips and pizza.

Here are five reasons you should give up the bad habit of snacking before bedtime.

Weight gain

Eating in the hours just before we go to sleep leaves us little time to burn off those extra calories. We eat and then head on to bed without having to use the food for any activity and so we get to store up fat. There is a significant relationship between late-night snacking and a higher body fat percentage.

Impaired hormone response

This is a disturbing effect of late night eating over a long period of time.  Eating late at night can reduce the ability of insulin to remove glucose from the blood.

Over a prolonged period of time, late-night eating may lead to an increased risk of diabetes.

 

Poor sleep

Eating or drinking just before bedtime can negatively affect your sleep quality and quantity, There is a significant association between high intakes of sugary foods and caffeine before bed and poor slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) stages of sleep.

Your body spends some of the energy it needs to help repair the worn out body tissues to digest your ingested food. Taking alcohol at night can also cause you to be sleepy the next day.

Increased food intake the following day

Ironically, eating a big meal late at night doesn’t mean you will consume less the next day. You’ll want to eat more!

Eating late at night may enhance the amount of food you consume the following day due to the impaired insulin response and poor blood sugar control leaving you feeling hungrier overall

Increased cortisol

Interestingly, researchers have found a link between eating late at night and higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. As well as being an overall health hazard, high levels of cortisol in the body pose a risk factor for increased abdominal fat.

The findings may also suggest that the more stressed individuals are, the more likely they are to eat late at night rather than earlier on in the day.

To break the habit of late-night snacking, its good to eat a balanced dinner with a focus on protein to keep us fuller for long, and de-stressing with a bath, a walk or a movie to give ourselves time to wind down from the day.

Everyone is different, identify your own triggers for late night eating and avoid them. If you can’t, then you can get healthier snacks options e.g bananas, an apple, greek yoghurt , carrots or even water!

 

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