Is It Bad to Eat Before Bed? Nutritionists Answer

Here’s how it goes: Whether it’s going straight from work to a workout class or to an after-work event, you’re running around all day. You’ve been eating in between the busy moments when you can, but by the time you get home, it’s late at night, you’re physically drained from your day, and you’re hungry as hell. I’ve been there one too many times. Eating late at night is never ideal, but sometimes it feels like you don’t have a choice, especially when you live a fast-paced lifestyle. No one wants to count sheep until they fall asleep dreaming of food only to wake up hangry. So what do you do?

There have been conflicting studies on whether or not eating before bed has the ability to boost your metabolism or if it increases your caloric intake and can make you gain weight. The line is blurred when it comes to eating before bed, so we decided to seek counsel from the pros who know best. Summer Sanders, raw-food chef, holistic health coach, and author of Raw + Radiant, along with Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, nutritionist, and founder and director of Real Nutrition, cracked the code on nighttime eating.

MAKE BRAIN HEALTH A PRIORITY

brain health

Brain health is as important as your overall physical health. Here’s why…

As your brain ages, it becomes less efficient at utilizing glucose as an energy source. This defect in energy conversion starves your brain of nourishment and weakens its ability to withstand normal oxidative stress from free radicals.

As a result, you are more susceptible to neurodegenerative disorders and you can run the risk of developing dementia.

KETONES TO THE RESCUE! 

Ketones are designed to fuel the brain and other peripheral organs during reduced carbohydrate diets when blood glucose levels are low. Normally, your brain primarily derives its energy from glucose, but when ketosis is induced, up to 75% of energy requirements can be obtained through the production of ketones.

MCTs leads to substantially more ketones in the blood (compared to LCTs), making the fatty acids a critical substance for a healthy brain.

Studies show a state of ketosis may help prevent and provide symptomatic relief to a wide variety of brain disorders:

  • ALS
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia
  • Autism
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Traumatic brain injury

Ketones have been found to reduce Alzheimer’s-type plaque in the brain.

In clinical studies, Alzheimer’s patients who consumed a beverage with MCTs compared to one without MCTs, scored significantly better on cognitive tests.

In other studies, ketosis has led to:

  • improved performance on visual-spatial memory tasks
  • increased ability of learning tasks
  • enhanced short-term memory

Ketones trigger the activation of specialized proteins called brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNFs) that aid in brain cell maintenance, repair, and protection. BDNFs also stimulate the growth of new brain cells to replace dead or dying cells, allowing some mental function restoration.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MCT

How your next meal could help fight depression and stress

Blueberries contain antioxidants that improve your reaction to stress, so if you're feeling the pressure, grab some of these. Click through our gallery to see other foods that help reduce stress.

A recent study looked into how we can help fight depression and stress with our diet versus having to take medication.  A super good idea! Where have you people been all my life?

Here’s what the Deakin University Food and Mood Centre revealed:

  1. The people that addressed mood with diet improved their moods by almost triple vs those who sought simply social support.
  2. Poor diet leads to body inflammation which is linked to depression.
  3. Healthy food helps brain deal with stress.

Feeling down or stressed out?  These foods may help…without medical side effects:

BLUEBERRIES:  Contain antioxidants that help reduce body inflammation and deal with stress.

SEEDS:  Contain magnesium which is linked to reducing depression, fatigue and irritability.

CASHEWS:  Contain zinc which can help reduce anxiety.

  • TURKEY:  Contains tryptophan which helps body create serotonin which helps make you happy and keep you calm.
  • LEAFY GREENS:  Contain folate which produces pleasure inducing dopamine in brain.
  • MILK WITH VIT D:  Can improve happiness and reduce panic disorders.
  • PISTACHIOS:  Can lower blood pressure and heart rate.
  • OATMEAL: Helps produce serotonin to stabilize your moods.
  • SALMON:  Can help protect body from negative effects of adrenaline and cortisol by lowering inflammation.
  • AVOCADO:  Can help you feel full so you don’t binge eat.
  • YOGURT:  Probiotics can calm your gut which fuels your immune system which fights inflammation.
  • DARK CHOCOLATE:  Anti-oxidants lower blood pressure and can make you feel happy.  It certainly makes me feel happy!

Contributed by The Weekly Beet®, Weekly Nutritional Snippets-Colleen Foster

Related Article 

Putting Your Mind Back into Food

 By EMERAN MAYER, MD, PHD

Putting Your Mind Back into Food

As health-conscious consumers, we are constantly concerned about finding the healthiest foods in the market. We perform calorie counts of our meals and worry that we may not get enough protein, vitamins, calcium or other minerals. Millions of people with a syndrome called non-celiac gluten sensitivity spend a lot of their attention and money on gluten-free foods. A similar number of individuals suffering from symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome struggle to adhere to a diet called the Low FODMAP diet, which relieves their symptoms temporarily, yet is unhealthy and cannot be adhered to for long.

What many (not all!) of these individuals have in common is the fact that they are part of what has been called a National Eating Disorder. Just like the eating disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia, anxiety is one of the major risk factors for this phenomenon. People are probably more worried about what they eat and shouldn’t eat today than at any other time in modern history. This anxiety often leads to the ritual of restricted diets and avoidance of certain food items, which come in ever new variations. Reflecting this situation are the labels on many processed foods, which seem to list more items that are NOT contained in a particular food (sugar free, gluten free, fat free, GMO free, etc.) than the healthy ingredients that should be in it (antioxidants, polyphenols, fiber). Furthermore, there are hundreds of dietary supplements, including different mixtures of probiotics, that promise wellness and miraculous improvement of all kinds of common symptoms.

Speaking with many of my patients, I have learned that sticking to some of these popular recommendations actually does make people feel better: less bloating, more energy, less brain fog, better concentration, better sleep, less worry about their food (at least temporarily). Interestingly, the same individuals still come to see me in my clinic for their persistent symptoms!

So here is the big question: do these symptom improvements have anything to with the postulated and heavily advertised beneficial effects on our digestive system, gut health, gut permeability, or gut microbes? Or, could there be some powerful underlying mechanism that most people either ignore or vehemently reject, like the powerful mechanisms of the mind called nocebo and placebo effects?

If you believe something will harm you, your brain will make predictions about a high likelihood of this harm to occur in the future. For example, if you are convinced that eating grains will make your headache and stomach symptoms worse, your mind will translate this belief into a prediction that these bad things will happen to you. On the other hand, if you believe something will be good for you, your brain will make a prediction about a high likelihood of you feeling better. In the first case, your worry and anxiety will go up, while in the second case, it will decrease or disappear, at least temporarily. These changes in your anxiety level are associated with corresponding changes in the activity of your gut and likely the behavior of your gut microbes.

When you eat something while stressed out about its likely bad effects, it will be processed by your digestive system in a different way than when you are relaxed. The stress may even make your gut more permeable or “leaky.” This chronic anxiety will, in many people, cause symptoms of indigestion, fullness, bloating, and brain fog. On the other hand, if someone puts you on a strict diet or makes you avoid certain food items with the assurance of you feeling better, your anxiety will go down. Adhering to any ritual has this beneficial effect on one’s anxiety level. Then, the signals that your reassured mind sends to the gut will indeed be good for your gut functioning, the wellbeing of your gut microbes, and yourself.

While these powerful mechanisms of the mind almost certainly contribute to our current eating disorder epidemic, the increasing prevalence of true food allergies and sensitivities are likely to play a role as well. The problem is that with our current diagnostic tools, we have not been able to find an objective and biological measure that underlies these non-allergic food sensitivities. One such mechanism could be through the systems within our brain that regulate our sensitivity to multiple sensory stimuli. Individuals with a generalized hypersensitivity are sometimes even overly sensitive to the tiniest dose of medication entering their system. And there is no reason to believe why such individuals may not be sensitive to a variety of food items that interact with nerve endings in the gut which then signal to the brain.

So if you do feel better, does it matter if it is due to some advertised effect on your gut health, or if it is due to the power of your mind, the placebo effect? As a physician who takes advantage of the powerful placebo effect all the time, my answer is no, it doesn’t make a difference. However, regarding the nocebo effect, my recommendation is: spend less time worrying about the food and harmful components, read less about the hidden dangers of our food and indulge in the evidence-based dietary recommendations of a balanced, largely plant based (e.g. high fiber), low fat, low sugar diet for optimal health and prevention of disease. By working closely together, your mind and gut will figure out the rest!

Self-Love and Your Health

By Karen Malkin from Karen Malkin Health Counseling 

It’s easy to get swept up in all things love. But do you ever really think about love in the context of yourself? If not, it’s time to get selfish, because the love you show yourself is the greatest form of self-care and also what will keep you healthy (and happy) in the long run.

The benefits of this form of self-care or self-compassion are clear. According to Emma Seppala, Ph.D., Associate Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism, making the effort to nourish your body, mind, and soul with love can lead to:

  • increased inner strength,
  • increased productivity,
  • and decreased stress.

In addition, research out of Wake Forest University about the effects of self-compassion on eating habits shows that women who gave themselves permission to occasionally indulge were less likely to overeat than those who relentlessly beat themselves up over any indulgence.

It may seem frivolous, but self-care is not something to take lightly. You can reap the wellness benefits by focusing on yourself in these important ways:

Love Yourself — Start by being less critical of yourself. Silence the inner voice in your head that tells you are not good enough… smart enough… rich enough… thin enough…. Become aware of when your inner voice launches into her harsh critique, and try to reframe the dialogue so that it’s more caring. This will take some time, but the goal is for that voice to be as loving as it would be if you were talking with a dear friend.

Takeaway: You don’t have to love your extra weight, but you need to love the person who has the extra weight.

Feed Yourself — An important physical form of nourishment comes from the foods you choose to feed your body. A loving attitude towards yourself makes you want to fill your plate with that which make you feel energized and clear-headed (whole foods, organic fruit and vegetables, and healthy fats) as opposed to that which leave you feeling drained, spacey, and hungry for more (fast food, processed food, and fried food). Something as simple as staying properly hydrated can be a powerful signal to your body that you care.

Takeaway: Filling your tank with healthful whole foods is a radical form of self-love.

Time for Yourself — Are you are a mom juggling the needs of your family? Or are you a busy executive, giving 110% to your job? Or maybe both of these roles fit? If so, one of the most important things you can do is carve out time each week for you—and you alone. That means that during that timeframe, everyone else’s needs take a backseat to yours. Whether you schedule a massage, sink into a great book, take a walk with a friend, or simply do nothing, you’ll find that prioritizing yourself in this way provides the perfect opportunity to recharge your batteries.

Takeaway: You show up in the world in a much more meaningful way when you take time to prioritize yourself.

When it comes to taking time for yourself, I invite you to join our 14 Day Transformation Cleanse, which features two full weeks of eating nourishing whole foods as well as wellness supplies and direct support from me. During that time, you can expect to feel more energetic, mentally clear, better able to sleep, and more! Why not give yourself the ultimate gift of self-love? Sign up today here.

To your good health,

Karen

MORE NEWS – EXPANDING MY REACH

As many of you may know, earlier this year, I joined the board of the Environmental Working Group (EWG). I couldn’t be more proud of the work we’re undertaking. As a consumer advocacy group focusing on (and fighting for) getting potentially harmful chemicals out of the food we eat and the products we use, I’m able to make a bigger impact with the causes that are close to my heart. Back in October 2017, I attended a two-day board meeting in Washington DC, and we also spent a day lobbying on Capitol Hill in support of the Organic Farm Bill. This year I will be dedicating more of my energy to this advocacy work with the goal of building a healthier world with integrative medicine at its core.

If you want to work with me 1:1, I will still be taking clients, but will be limiting my in-person sessions and shifting to a mix of Skype/FaceTime/phone and office visits. I also highly recommend my 14 Day Transformation programs as a self-guided alternative. For more information: