Whenever I’m up late at night, I never fail to feel peckish. Whether I’m working on an article, reading or just mindlessly surfing YouTube, I’ll start to crave for chocolates, instant noodles or chips (not necessarily in that order.) I often end up giving in to my cravings before crawling into bed feeling guilty. Why the guilt? Well, as I was growing up, people used to tell me that eating after a certain time at night will make me fat. They could never agree if this “time” was 6pm or 9pm or something in between, but one thing they all agreed on … eating late at night makes you put on weight.
Of course, we now have research that disprove this myth. After reviewing the results of various studies on the correlation between night-time eating and weight gain, the British Medical Journal concluded there is no link between the two. What actually causes weight gain is the amount of food you eat, not when you eat it.
Here’s an easier way to look at it: Say your body needs 1,500 calories to maintain a healthy body weight and you ate only 1,000 calories by the time it got to 9pm. In reality, you could probably eat another 500 calories but the problem is, the longer you wait till you actually eat, the hungrier you get. And you know what happens when you’re hungry – the chances of overeating and making unhealthy food decisions increases. This is why you’re encouraged to have small meals throughout the day instead of waiting till you get to a certain mealtime.
But what about those among us who don’t count our calories obsessively? Or what if we already had a healthy dinner at a reasonable hour but we’re still feeling somewhat hungry? Before you reach for that packet of chips, ask yourself if what you’re feeling is thirst or hunger. Very often, we mistake dehydration for hunger. Try sipping a glass of water first before assessing if you still need to eat. Also, choose your snack wisely – it may be easy to tear open a packet of chips or dial for fast food, but such food are calorie-laden and may also interrupt your sleep patterns.
If you absolutely feel like you need to eat something, check out this handy infographic on which late-night snacks are acceptable, and which are simply a no-go.
About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. She is on a mission to lose 10 kilograms (she says this every year.) Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.
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