bite my words

Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Will an evening snack make you fat?

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A nutrition myth that I’ve been hearing a lot lately is the no eating after a certain time in the evening, usually 7:00 or 8:00. The common misconception is that anything you eat after a certain time is just going to turn into fat. This is absolutely not true. I think that the intentions behind this myth were well-meaning. However, the best intentions don’t necessarily have the best effect.

 

One reason I think that this myth was started was because it’s not ideal to eat right before you go to bed. When you’re asleep your digestive system slows down so it’s going to take longer to digest any food in your stomach. For those who suffer from gastric reflux, there’s also an increased risk of experiencing reflux if you eat too close to bedtime. The second reason that I think this myth was developed was that we tend to do most of our mindless eating in the evenings. Think about it, all day long you’re so good and then you get home from work, have supper, sit in front of the tv and start munching on chips or cookies. You’re tired and stressed and you’re much more likely to gravitate towards high calorie, low nutrient foods and to eat too much of them.

 

The problem with this well-intentioned myth is that if you’re eating supper at 6:00 and not going to bed until 11:00 or later, that’s a really long time to go without eating. It’s much better to have a planned snack in the evening than to go hungry or to start mindlessly snacking.

 

Choose healthy foods like fruit and low-fat yoghurt, a small bowl of cereal, or peanut butter and whole grain crackers. Even a planned indulgence is better than an unplanned over-indulgence.  If what you want is ice cream, go for a small bowl or have a portion-controlled selection like a skinny cow or tofuti-cutie. If what you want is chips have a small helping. Take your serving, put the bag away at the back of the cupboard, and then enjoy, or buy the mini 100-calorie bags.

 

If your body needs the calories, it needs the calories and it’s not going to automatically turn them into fat because you ate them after a certain time of day. If your body doesn’t need the calories, it doesn’t need the calories and it’s going to turn them into fat no matter what time of day they were eaten.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian living in Nova Scotia, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

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