Sometimes your stomach just can’t be satisfied. Eating lightly all day doesn’t sit well with your stomach in the middle of the night. It wants food and it will let you know – even if that means waking you up in the middle of sleep. But before you grab that midnight snack, think twice. Certain foods can wreak havoc on your body and your sleep cycle if eaten at night. Here are 10 of the worst foods to eat late at night.
Fatty cuts of red meat take a long time to digest, which means that your stomach will be up and active while you’re ready to settle down and go to sleep. Red meat also contains an amino acid called tyrosine, which triggers brain activity. So not only will your stomach be active, but your brain will be active too, which means that your sleep will be delayed.
[Related: 10 Common Foods That Are Hard To Digest]
Ice cream and other desserts that contain a lot of sugar will make your blood sugar level soar and then drop rapidly. Depending on the flavor of ice cream you choose, chocolate or coffee also may be an ingredient. Both contain caffeine, which will rev you up when you need to calm down.
Sometimes having a bit of breakfast at night puts you in the mood to fall asleep. But those fun cereals that you ate as a kid are not the best choice for a late night snack. They contain a lot of sugar – sometimes more sugar than a candy bar. If you like to have cereal at night, stay away from the ones that have marshmallows or are “frosted” with sugar and, instead, choose a cereal that is high in fiber. The mixture of carbs and fiber will help you fall asleep instead of keep you awake.
If you’re in the mood for something spicy, you may reach for the classic pairing of chips and salsa. However, the spiciness of the salsa will have your stomach doing the samba all through the night. The acidity of the salsa will cause acid reflux and the chemicals that are found in salsa and other spicy foods will stimulate your senses. Pair that with carb-filled chips and your stomach will be partying until the wee hours of the morning.
[Related: What Food To Avoid If You Have Acid Reflux]
Not only will the carbs do you in on this one, the garlic will keep you up as well. Garlic, like spicy foods, contains compounds that cause heartburn and acid reflux. So to avoid an upset stomach as well as bad breath, avoid eating garlic at night.
If you’re going to eat, you have to have a drink, right? Just make sure that that drink isn’t diet soda or even regular soda. These drinks are full of sugar and caffeine, which will keep you up. Plus, studies show that those who drink at least two sodas a day are more likely to weigh more than those who don’t.
[Related: 10 Foods That Make You Sleepy Before Bedtime]
A nice steaming hot bowl of soup seems as soothing as a pot of tea and it certainly can be as long as you don’t eat it at night. Canned soups in particular contain a lot of preservatives and a lot of salt, even if they’re labeled “low sodium.” That salt can dehydrate you and raise your body temperature, so you’ll wake up aching for a drink.
When you’re ready to settle down and go to sleep you want to stomach to settle down as well. But if you eat a big bowl of pasta before going to bed, it’s going to be extremely hard for your stomach to settle down. Pasta is pure carbohydrates and those starches will mess with your blood sugar level, making it difficult to fall asleep. Most of those carbs, along with the oil, cheese and heavy sauce, will also turn to fat if eaten before bedtime.
Like pasta, pizza is a heavy meal that gets your stomach moving. It’s loaded with carbs, not to mention cheese, sauce, meat and whatever other toppings you choose. All of that fat mixed with the acid from the tomato sauce and grease is a recipe for acid reflux, which will assuredly keep you up at night.
If you just beginning to think that fruit was a safe choice, you’ll be surprised to know that it is not. Certain fruits like watermelon, cranberries and citrus act as diuretics, which means that they make you urinate more frequently. Certain vegetables such as celery, onions, asparagus and eggplant can have the same effect, so eating them before bedtime will mean that your sleep will be disrupted for frequent trips to the bathroom.
To recap, red meat, sugary snacks and drinks, carbohydrates, and certain fruits and vegetables are all bad foods to eat at night. So what does make for a good midnight snack? A grilled chicken sandwich, low-fat yogurt with granola, cheese and crackers, a banana and red tea are all good options for nighttime. As long as you keep your portion small and the meal light, you and your stomach should have no trouble settling down.