10 Foods You Should Never Eat for Dinner If You Want to Stay Healthy and Avoid Weight Gain

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Dinner is the last and most important meal of the day. It is very important to make the right food choices at dinner, as this meal provides a large portion of our nutrition and sustains us until the next day.

The foods we eat at night affect our sleep, and our ability to lose weight or exacerbate certain health problems such as diabetes and acid reflux.

Eating the wrong foods at dinner can lead to a poor night’s sleep. Quality sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and regulating insulin levels. If you are often hungry during the day, it may be because you are not getting enough quality sleep. Poor sleep can lead to eating more, not exercising, and gaining more weight.

Read on to discover the 10 worst dinner foods you shouldn’t eat. You’ll be surprised by some of our tips on what foods to avoid.

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1. Refined carbohydrates

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Refined carbohydrates are foods such as white bread and pasta that have been made from wheat processed to remove the wheat germ. The wheat germ is what gives unrefined brown bread and pasta their more natural color and nutrients.

Sweetened foods and drinks are also considered refined carbohydrates. When we eat these foods, the gut quickly breaks them down into simple sugars, which is why they have a high glycemic index (GI). High GI foods quickly raise blood sugar levels, and any excess sugar is then stored as fat.

It is considered healthier to avoid or limit these foods, and if we eat them before bedtime, when we don’t have the opportunity to burn them off, they can be even more harmful to our waistline and body fat percentage.

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2. Greasy foods

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Eating foods high in saturated fat, such as take-out, fried foods and some prepared foods, as well as red and processed meats, puts a lot of pressure on our digestive system.

Fatty foods have always been a topic of discussion when it comes to weight gain. Many people believe that consuming a diet rich in fat can lead to an increase in body weight. However, recent research has suggested otherwise.

Our gut has to expend a lot of energy digesting these foods, which signals to the brain that we are still awake, disrupting our sleep patterns.

Sleep studies have shown that a high-fat meal at dinner wakes us up more often during the night and we spend less time in the restorative, dreamlike sleep called REM (rapid eye movement sleep). This can even affect the way we breathe during sleep and lead to sleep disturbances caused by acid reflux.

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3. Alcohol

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When we drink alcohol, our bodies release the stress hormone cortisol. So even though we feel relaxed, we are actually more stressed inside. Over time, high cortisol levels are linked to inflammation, weight gain and an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

In addition, drinking alcohol can make us sleep faster, but we will be less likely to enter the important REM sleep phase, the dream state. As a result, we will feel tired and lethargic the next day.

4. Chocolate

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Few people don’t enjoy the sweetness of a chocolate bar. But as we learned with soft drinks, sugar can affect our sleep patterns and lead to chronic illness, especially if we eat sugary foods before bed.

In addition, chocolate naturally contains caffeine, which disrupts our sleep patterns and makes us feel tired, low energy and lethargic the next day. As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine it contains.

And that’s not all! Chocolate also contains theobromine, a stimulant, and this is why eating chocolate gives us a feeling of well-being. But it’s also the reason why chocolate can keep us awake if we eat it before bedtime. This can be especially detrimental to sleep if we are particularly sensitive to caffeine.

5. Spicy foods

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Curry, chili and other spicy foods can negatively affect our sleep patterns for several reasons. First, they can cause acid reflux and indigestion that can be so uncomfortable that they keep us awake.

Also, if we eat a heavy spicy meal at night and go to bed before it is fully digested, the stomach acid that is working hard to digest a heavy meal can rise to the top and cause heartburn, which also prevents us from getting quality sleep.

Finally, eating hot and spicy foods temporarily increases body temperature, which can also have a negative effect on sleep – high body temperature is linked to disturbed sleep. This is why it is best to eat spicy foods as early in the evening as possible.

6. Coffee

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Unsurprisingly, coffee may be the worst thing you can consume at night because it disrupts our sleep-wake cycle. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that works by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain. When these receptors are not blocked, adenosine can bind to them, causing drowsiness.

Coffee is a great way to increase our alertness and productivity during the day. But if we drink too much of it (usually more than four cups a day, ideally before lunchtime), we can have trouble sleeping.

In fact, one study found that “caffeine consumption six hours before bedtime reduces total sleep time by one hour.” The next day, we wake up tired, have more and more coffee and the cycle continues.

7. Salty snacks

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Chips, pretzels, salted nuts and popcorn are good snacks, especially if you don’t have a sweet tooth. But they can also affect our sleep.

One interesting study showed that eating a salty snack before bed delayed the time participants went to bed and caused them to wake up several times during the night. Deep sleep is important: it’s the time when our heart and breathing rates drop and we relax deeply. But we also need restorative REM sleep, when our brain activity becomes more alert and we begin to dream, in order to get good quality sleep. This study found that salty foods can put us into such a deep sleep that we lose REM sleep, making us feel groggy and restless.

8. Diuretic foods

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Diuretic foods are foods with a high water content that increase the frequency of urination. If we eat a lot of diuretic foods in the hours before bedtime, we may get up often at night to go to the bathroom, which will affect the quality of our sleep.

Cucumbers, asparagus, beets, celery, citrus fruits, watermelon and cranberries are diuretic foods. They are also low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods that are part of a healthy, balanced diet.

But if you feel like going to the bathroom a lot during the night, you may want to avoid these foods in the evening and eat them at lunchtime instead. The same goes for water: try to drink the majority of your eight glasses a day before 8 p.m.

9. Ice Cream

Ice cream, as well as other creamy desserts and cakes, are tasty and indulgent treats, often eaten late in the evening. But because they are high in fat and sugar, they can affect our sleep.

Dairy-based foods that are high in sugar and fat take a long time to digest. Therefore, if we eat them at night before bed, we will still use energy to digest them. I don’t need to remind you how unpleasant it is to fall asleep with a full stomach, so leave those treats for weekend lunch!

10. Soft drinks

Sodas, colas and other soft drinks all contain high levels of sugar, and drinking them before bedtime when we are least active can lead to weight gain. Often, they also contain caffeine, especially cola, which is well known for its ability to keep us awake – not what we need before bed.

In fact, studies show that those of us who regularly sleep less than five hours a night are more likely to drink sugary, caffeinated beverages than those who sleep the recommended seven to eight hours most nights. Not only do soft drinks interfere with our sleep, but they can also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

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