Eating right before you head to the land of nod is usually a recipe for gaining weight and sleeping poorly. Not only that, it can also seriously damage the tissue in your throat and esophagus (silent reflux, a condition that nearly 50 per cent of Americans suffer from without even realising).
To prevent this, laryngologist, Jamie Koufman, M.D., who has been studying and treating the condition for about 30 years, has compiled a list of the seven worst things to eat right before bed. Put that midnight snack down and read what she has to say.
Whilst we know it lowers your inhibitions and may help you nod off, it also relaxes the valves that connect the stomach and esophagus. When this happens, your body is unable to keep food where it belongs. Koufman says “If you have alcohol just before bed, you’re pretty much asking to have reflux.”
Soda is actually more acidic than anything found in nature. The acidic concoction found in your typical Diet Coke can cause some serious damage to your thoratic and esophalgal valves while you sleep. Plus, carbonation increases stomach pressure.
Certain flavors are high in fat – which comforts and relaxes the valves (sounds good but is actually bad). Chocolate also usually contains caffeine and a lesser-known stimulant called theobromine. A triple whammy of bad.
Another fatty food that messes with valves. If you must indulge, hard varieties such as Parmesan and Swiss have less of a reflux effect than softer types such as feta and mozzarella. (That means no pizza folks).
When it comes to reflux, fat is king. Whether saturated or unsaturated, your digestive system is worse off from your indulgence. Despite the fact that nuts generally contain a healthy dose of the latter, they should be avoided before bed. Cashews, walnuts, macadamias and peanuts are the worst, says Koufman, while pistachios and almonds aren’t quite so bad.
That sweet/bitter tang you get from your grapefruit or lemon juice is acid sadly. In fact, any citrus drink is highly acidic, a glass of orange juice or a green apple are your worst choices, but some people can eat red apples without problems, it just depends on the person.
Assuming the caffeine in coffee isn’t keeping you up into the wee hours of the early morning, you still shouldn’t drink coffee before you sleep. Not only is it inherently acidic, but the caffeine it contains also generates additional stomach acid. Stay away or drink decaf.
If this leaves you a little stranded, Koufman suggests anything low in acid, such as bananas, a bowl of low-sugar cereal with low-fat milk or a good chamomile tea – both soothing and filling. Here’s to those sweet, sweet dreams you’re going to have now.