What you need to know:
- With a busy lifestyle, you will in most cases have a late supper.
- Isaac Ssejjombwe tells us the dangers of eating late supper and what you can eat late if you must
Consuming most of your calories during the day, in the form of balanced meals or snacks, promotes positive energy levels, appetite control and overall wellness. When you do resort to late-night eating, choose nutritious foods, such as whole grains, fruits or vegetables.
Dr Toko Mansur, a nutritionist at Jinja Regional Referral Hospital says: “Having late meals is risky because one is likely to gain weight and become obese at some point. This is because much of the food will not be used by the body but instead stored as fat.” Some effects of eating late include:
According to Dr Mansur, if you feel hungry after 8pm, a healthy or modest-size snack may help you sleep. He advises that when you are hungry at night, eat healthy snacks, such as oatmeal with low-fat milk. Avoid large meals and spicy foods, which can cause discomfort and disrupt sleep.
Caffeinated foods and beverages, such as chocolate, coffee and energy drinks can make it difficult to fall asleep and lead to daytime tiredness the following day.
Acid reflux is a common condition in which stomach acid moves back up into your esophagus after eating. It often accompanies heartburn, or a burning or tight pain in your lower or mid-chest. Overeating or eating high-fat, greasy or acidic foods, such as tomato products, at night heighten these risks.
Benefits of eating early
If you want to keep your weight under control, it is best to have an early dinner. You can eat what you like, even if it’s high in calories. After dinner, take a walk to burn the excess calories that you have consumed.
One of the most important health benefits of having an early dinner is that it provides more room to digestion, no matter how heavy your meal is.
Since your food is digested in a proper way and in the right amount of time, it helps your heart to beat at a normal pace, thus keeping it healthy and stronger and so are other parts of the body like the kidney and others.
Those who eat late suffer from digestive problems such as acidity, heart burn and bloating because the time gap between dinner and sleep reduces. So, when you go to sleep, the stomach acid gets refluxed to the esophagus, causing uneasiness.
Dr Mansur says that contrary to popular belief, eating late at night does not directly cause weight gain. Eating particular foods at night, however, can contribute to weight gain. For example, if one opts for heavy meals packed with carbohydrates and going to bed immediately, your body will be unable to break down the food thus storing it as fat.
“However, eating calorie-dense foods late at night can enhance your wellness if you are underweight because of illness, medical treatment or reduced appetite,” he says.