• Thu. May 19th, 2022

Eating your meals at night: Maintaining a healthy habit

Eating at night: maintaining a healthy eating habit

Food is essential to life. If you grew up in a formal setting with highly educated parents in Nigeria, where you all eat at
the same time, it is common to hear your mum shout out “dinner is ready” or just a simple
closely-knit family, “food don ready o”. Let us examine eating our meals at night.

We refer to this meal as supper or in more formal settings, dinner. Why is it important to pay attention to the time and to what you eat at night? We should assume that having your three-square meals in the morning, afternoon, and evening is just what you need to keep your soul and body in the desired shape.
Imagine you are a lady invited on a dinner date by a colleague in a new place of work;

a colleague you have an eye for. The time agreed for pick up is 7 pm. You are all excited and
dressed up, waiting for him to turn up. I am sure the last thing on your mind at this time is
wondering what will be served on your plate much less what time the meal will be served.
Another scenario is you coming back from work after a long day. You are hungry and just want
to get yourself a good home-cooked meal. All you had at work was just something to keep you
going till the close of work or business.

By the time you read through this article, you are more likely to have a new perception about
your late-night meals and what they do to your body system.

Likely effect of eating late-night meals.

There can be several adverse effects on your health when you regularly consume late-night
meals.
❖ Increase in body mass
You will not have enough time to digest your food before you sleep and thereby
the food is stored in your body as fat. You will quickly notice a great increase first
in your waistline and stomach, then other parts of your body. This is usually not
desirable by most people. It may also come along with some health challenges.
It is common to have indigestion when you go to bed so close to your bedtime

  • A bloated tummy
  • Acid reflux and heartburn
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Sleep imbalance

When you have indigestion, your sleep is disrupted and this can further lead to a
lack of concentration the next day, of course, your reasoning pattern may be
disjointed.
Looking at the above risk factors linked to eating your meal late at night, I am sure you would
consider making an effort to make things right for yourself by avoiding eating late into the night.
A question you are likely to ask is: what time should I consider as ‘late’ for my meal at night?

Because our staple diet in Nigeria is carbohydrate, which takes a while to digest, it may be safe
to advise you not to eat your meal after 7 pm or at least two hours before your bedtime. When
your supper or dinner is eaten early enough to allow it to digest, your body can maintain a stable
blood level. You reduce the risk of many diseases and health challenges if you can make the
effort to avoid late-night meals.

Once you have eaten your food early enough at night, you can then resolve to stay off eating
anything at all till you go to bed.
While avoiding late-night meals, it is also advisable to avoid late-night snacks after eating or just
before you get into your bed. Sometimes you find yourself just having a craving to snack on
crisps, popcorn, ChinChin, chocolates, etc. while watching the television before retiring for the
day.

What about having a drink before I go to sleep?
This all depends on what you are drinking. You may take warm milk to aid your sleep or, water
to hydrate you. A good piece of advice, however, is to avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks
as these will surely have adverse effects on your body and sleep.
In summary, to keep healthy and fit, avoid eating late into the night, allow your body enough
time to process the food you had for dinner well ahead of the time you go to sleep and once you
have eaten your meal at night, stay off snacking on anything. Consider it a type of fast to give
you a healthy body and balanced lifestyle.

Olufunmilayo Omojasola

Olufunmilayo Omojasola

Funmilayo Omojasola is a Deputy Director at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. She holds a first degree in English Education and Masters degree in Public Administration and Educational Technology respectively. She is a mother and a great lover of children.

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