There’s an old saying that you shouldn’t eat after 8:00 pm. In theory, this is an adage that doesn’t make sense. Our body consumes and burns calories at the same rate, regardless of what time a day it is. To our bodies, a calorie is a calorie, no matter what time. However, there is some truth to not eating after 8:00 pm, but it is not because our body will process those calories any different than if you eat during the day. The problem with eating later at night is that there are a lot of factors that come into play from earlier in the day, which could make your night time eating detrimental to your diet.
Why Eating at Night is Bad
As I mentioned earlier, eating at night is not inherently bad. Our bodies don’t know what time it is when they chose to burn calories. However, a lot of situations during our day can lead to poor choices and/or overeating at night. A lot of people turn to food as a way to cope with stress. If stress is a big part of your daily routine, whether it is because of work or family, you need to make sure you are especially mindful of what you’re consuming at night. If you are stressed throughout most of the day, you can create coping mechanisms such as overeating at night when you are winding down from the day.
Another issue with eating at night is that if you are working in an environment throughout the day which requires you to make a lot of decisions, you end up using up your psychological resources to make good decisions. When your willpower has evaporated, you tend to not stay mindful of what you are consuming. Which could lead to overeating, or making poor choices?
When you are tired, people tend to crave surgery and high-fat foods. After working a long and stressful day, a lot of people find themselves reaching for sweets when they get home. This is a product of your body feeling worn down after a long day of work, so your mind tells you that you need to refuel your glycogen stores, so you start to crave sugar. Physiologically speaking your body doesn’t need the sugar, but your mind perceives it that you do.
3 Tips for Eating Late
It is inevitable for a lot of people to eat late, however, you need to stay mindful of the pitfalls that you can find yourself in because of what happened the rest of the day. Here are three tips for eating at night.
- Plan your meals. When you are stressed during the day, you may find yourself eating do cope with that stress. Not planning is planning to fail, and if you don’t have a health meal portioned out properly, you could let your emotions take over, and chose to eat an unhealthy option.
- Eliminate Trigger Foods. Trigger foods are different for everyone, but they mostly have something in common. They are either high in sugar or high in fat. Some trigger foods are sweets, cookies, and potato chips. They are a trigger food because of two reasons. Number one, they “satisfy” the craving of sweet, salty, or fatty. Number two, they can be consumed in a mindless fashion. How many times have you found yourself eating an entire bag of chips without realizing it? The best way to avoid eating these at night is to completely eliminate them from your home. If you don’t have them around, you can’t reach for them when you are stressed, or when your willpower has evaporated from the long day of work.
- Don’t eat and watch. Eating in front of the TV is a common practice for a lot of families now. The problem with this, besides the lack of social interaction you have with your family, is that your mind is focused on something other than what you are consuming. When you are not paying attention and being mindful of your food choices, you put yourself in a position to make a bad choice or eat an entirely too big of a portion. The solution, turn the TV off until you are done eating. When you are focused on the food that you are eating at the time, it will help you from overeating accidentally. Remember, a calorie is the same regardless of if you eat it during the day or at night. If you are trying to watch what you are eating during the day, don’t let that number double or triple at night, because you lack the focus of what you are consuming.