Our digestion is one of many bodily functions that work on a 24-hour cycle. This cycle happens to peak in the middle of the day and becomes weaker as the day goes on. By nighttime, it comes close to hibernation as it slows through the night. We can eat at night, but that does not guarantee our digestive enzymes will wake up and begin to work. Here are some things to know about eating after sunset and why it may not be the best practice for your body.
Historical Context for Avoiding Eating at Night
In the ancient Indian religion or philosophy of Jain Dharma, eating at night is prohibited. The belief is that harmful microbes that are easily destroyed by the sun come out of hiding at night, and food becomes unhealthy. It is also believed that the “digestive fire” performs along with the sunrise and sunset, which is true as our enzymes are most active around noon when the sun is at its peak.
Studies have found that the same meal eaten at dinner as lunchtime will raise blood sugar levels more in the evening than earlier in the day. This is even true for low-carb meals. If you are watching your weight or suffer from diabetes or digestive issues, it’s even more important to not eat after sunset.
Changing Your Habits
Incorporating this practice might be difficult if you are traditionally a late eater or enjoy nighttime snacking. Luckily, it doesn’t take long to break this habit if you replace snacking with other activities like an evening yoga stretch or reading.
You can also start to develop new habits like journaling or listening to calming music before bed. Eating earlier and sticking to a routine can help you get better rest, which can lead to improved mental health and focus.
Avoiding Late Dinners as a Family
If you are used to eating late, or your family does, try either influencing the family to eat earlier and explain the health reasons or change your own mealtime to earlier. You can have tea with your family or enjoy a smaller meal, which is easier to digest than a full meal. In many cultures, dinner isn’t the biggest meal of the day. Often, lunch or a big family breakfast can be a great substitute.
Learn About Other Ways to Protect Your Health
Eating late can lead to weight gain, disrupted sleep, and other issues. Eating earlier can help your body break down the food more efficiently and ensure that the digestive process is complete before you go to bed. It can also help you maintain a healthier weight since your body has time to burn more calories.
If you’re looking for other holistic strategies to protect your health, check out the Age Defying Video Program. This online course provides tools and guidance for protecting your help through simple and actionable strategies. From dietary advice to exercises, this program covers everything you need to start taking control of your health.