For most healthy people, it’s perfectly okay to have a snack before bed, yet keep in mind that there is no recipe for an ideal bedtime snack, only some guidelines.
Avoid Junk Foods and Sugary Desserts: Loading up on sugary, processed junk foods like ice-cream or crisps right before isn’t a good idea. These foods are high in unhealthy fats, sugars and salt which trigger cravings and overeating. They make it very easy to exceed your daily calorie needs for the day.
Eating before bed doesn’t necessarily make you put on weight, but filling up on high calorie foods certainly can.
If you happen to have a sweet tooth, try some low-sugar berries a couple of squares of dark chocolate or if you crave for something salty have a small handful of salty, roasted pistachios, almonds or other nuts or seeds.
Combine Protein or Fat With Carbs: If you don’t have any stomach or digestive problems combining complex carbohydrates with protein and a little healthy fat is a good way to do it.
Complex carbs such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables provide you with a steady source of energy as you fall asleep.
Teaming it up with protein or a small amount of fat can help keep you full through the night and keep your blood sugar stable.
Some evidence suggests that eating a carb-rich meal with a high glycemic index before bed can help you fall asleep. The reason for this is that carbohydrates improve the transportation of tryptophan an amino acid, which can be converted into neurotransmitters that help regulate sleep. The same effect you may also receive from tryptophan rich foods such as fish, red meat, poultry and dairy.
In other studies a meal rich in fat can improve sleep quality.
Some snack ideas include an apple with peanut butter, whole grain crackers and a slice of turkey, or cheese and grapes.
Conclusion: eating a carb with protein and fat snack before bed is fine for most people if you haven’t surpassed the amount of calories needed for the day. A definite no, no is eating junk foods and desserts before bed.
So the big question. Should you eat before bed ?
The answer to whether or not it’s a bad idea to eat before bed really depends on you and your habits.
It’s not a good idea to make a habit of snacking on unhealthy foods before bed. It’s also unwise to eat a large portion of your calories during the night.
Keeping that in mind, it’s perfectly fine for most people to have a healthy snack before they Zzzzzz. :))
We all know that stress can be hard on the stomach. Remember the last time you felt nervous, I am sure that you had an iffy feeling in your gut.
The truth is that the impact of stress on the stomach goes far beyond indigestion. In recent years, scientists and doctors have discovered a remarkably complex connection between the brain and the digestive system. In fact the entire system is extremely sensitive to our moods.
Experts now see stress as a major player in a wide range of digestive problems, including irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion and heartburn.
In fact people who are “continually sick” with infections are the ones who have a tendency to suffer from long term low-grade stress. Stress affects the whole body, but it is the immune system that is most affected by chronic low-grade stress.
People under chronic low-grade stress had above normal levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), an immune-system protein that promotes inflammation and has been linked with heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, severe infections and certain cancers. It appears that stress increases levels of IL-6, which in turn accelerates a variety of age-related diseases.
The Brain and the Digestive System
Most of us talk about "gut feelings," but few of us really appreciate the amazingly strong connections between the brain and the digestive system. Did you know that the stomach and intestines actually have more nerve cells than the entire spinal cord, leading some experts to call the digestive system a "mini brain." There is a highway of nerves which runs directly from the real brain to the digestive system, and messages flow in two directions.
To make a point; 95 percent of the body's serotonin -- a hormone that helps control mood -- is found in the digestive system, not the brain.
Under stress the brain releases a number of hormones that can badly affect the digestive system. One of these hormones is called CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone) which is one of the body’s main alarm bells. In stressful situations, the brain produces CRH which in turn triggers the adrenal glands to start making steroids and adrenaline, chemicals connected to “fight or flight” situations.
CRH can diminish your appetite which explains why some people don’t want to eat anything when stressed or it can make you hungry explaining why others turn to foods (usually junk foods) when stressed or upset.
As we can see, different people have different responses to stress, yet we can say through observation that short-term stress can cause stomach aches, nausea and diarrhea. In the long-term, prolonged stress can aggravate chronic diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn and cause stomach ulcers.
According to a report from the University of North Carolina, as many as 80 percent of people with IBS or another functional gastrointestinal problem never discuss symptoms with a doctor or other health professional… There is no need to suffer in silence.
Firstly it is important to get a diagnosis from your doctor so that you can check for any underlying diseases that might explain the symptoms. A doctor can also prescribe medication that will help to get the digestive system back on track temporarily. It is important to go to the root of the problem.
Healing in most cases involves a holistic approach which is a combination of healthy eating, (nutrition), exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and relaxation techniques such as power chiyoga, meditation (breathing exercises) and time spent outdoors in nature.
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !