If you’re jonesing for a midnight snack, be sure to avoid this food that can derail your sleep and wreak havoc on your diet.
We’ve all had this experience: it’s nighttime, sometime after dinner, but… surprise, surprise,… your tummy is still rumbly. You’re looking for something to satisfy your hunger pangs and set you up for a nice, warm “momma-bear-style” hibernation type sleep. Or maybe it’s been a really late night at the office followed by too many vodka tonics and your late night cravings are about to throw you over the nutritional cliff in a futile attempt to soak up those liquid calories.
Now, before we throw the whole notion of nighttime eating out with the proverbial “bathwater” of common sense,…. we should note that sometimes, snacking before bed can actually help you shed pounds; example – munching on cottage cheese or slurping down a protein shake in place of a full blown, standard fare type meal can actually help you shed a few pounds, a long as you’re listening to your body along the way.
But there are some foods that can set you up for failure. In addition to bolting on some unwanted extra calories to the end of your day — which can detail weight-loss efforts — eating the wrong food before bed can lead to indigestion and a rough, restless night under the sheets. And since getting plenty of sleep is one of the big aspects of losing weight, disrupting your REM cycles like this can make you pack on those unwanted pounds a lot faster… so take heed!
So what is the absolute worst food for you to eat before you hit the sack? Pizza. Specifically, pepperoni pizza. Oh,… and if you love to add peppers or crushed red pepper flakes on your pizza, then it’s even worse … and here’s why.
It Will Give You An Upset Stomach
For people who already have a sensitive GI tract, they know that no slice of pizza is complete without heartburn medication and a hefty supply of antacids. The spiciness of the pepperoni and the acid in the tomato sauce can lead to a sour stomach, or worse.
“The combination of fat in the cheese and the acid in the tomato sauce can have a negative impact on your sleep quality,” Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, explained in this article The 30 Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Sleep. “High-acid foods can trigger acid reflux, especially when eaten close to bedtime. Even if you don’t feel ‘heartburn,’ this reflux can cause you to awaken partially from sleep and leave you tired the next day.”
In addition to heartburn, the high fat content in the cheese can give you indigestion, which is an overall uncomfortable feeling. Spending the night downing TUMS or Pepto-Bismol instead of actually sleeping will undoubtedly lead to a poor night’s sleep. It’s best to avoid these acid reflux triggers altogether before bed.
The Dairy in the Pizza Will Keep You Running to the Bathroom
Sure, cheese is delicious, which is why pizza is one of America’s favorite foods. But it can also wreak havoc on your digestive system (mainly, your bowel movements) if you’re not careful. About 65 percent of adults are lactose intolerant, the National Institutes of Health estimates. As people get older, they tend to lose the enzymes that help digest lactose, the sugar found in dairy. Since the bacteria in your colon loves to feed on these sugars, this can result in uncomfortable GI issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
So it’s no surprise that eating a lot of dairy at a time right before bed is a bad idea. Between running to the restroom and waking yourself up with your own flatulence, you’re bound to get a bad night’s sleep.
Cheese Can Give You Nightmares
The idea that cheese gives you bad dreams has been around forever,… and some simply chalk it up to an old wive’s tale. Although it sounds like urban legend material, there is some evidence to suggest that indulging in cheese, especially before bed, can give you unpleasant dreams. Participants in one study reported that they were more likely to experience bad dreams after consuming dairy products (like cheese!) before bed.
Another study published by the British Cheese Board in 2005 found that different types of cheese can give you different types of dreams (though no one reported nightmares, per se). It should be noted that this was a study conducted by a group of scientists in charge of promoting cheese, so it was more marketing than scientific – go figure, why are we not surprised? LOL
So even if the evidence is more anecdotal than scientific, it’s worth avoiding that hefty dose of cheesy goodness before bed, and put down the provolone,… just in case. Besides, the upset stomach from all the cheese is bound to be unpleasant, regardless… so go without the gouda and simply resume dairy operations in the morning!
This doesn’t mean you should ditch delicious dairy food entirely. Just be sure you enjoy it a few hours before you hit the hay. Some better bedtime options would be a banana, a handful of nuts, or some slices of turkey. And be sure to sip on some decaffeinated herbal tea to help you wind down and get some quality Zzzs.