The Unusual Reason You're Not Supposed To Eat Fried Food Before Bed

It's safe to assume there aren't many people who would actively turn down a plate of hot french fries, crispy fried chicken, or warm glazed donuts. CDC health statistician Cheryl Fryar (via CNN) claims that statistics gathered in a 2013-2016 health report revealed roughly one-third of Americans consume fried fast food every single day. However, Americans' love for fried foods doesn't end at fast food joints. By now you or your neighbor may have gone the extra mile and learned how to fry your own food at home.

There are also some extreme yet specific examples to prove this deep-seated devolution to boot. One survey conducted by TUMS via OnePoll found 55% of 2,000 U.S. participants claimed to love fried chicken more than any other food and over half were willing to face their deepest fears if guaranteed this fried delight for life (per Swns Digital). Even an ongoing poll by BuzzFeed has produced some astounding results: 65% of voters actually prefer fried mozzarella cheese sticks over raw cheese and fried blooming onions over the sauteed varieties in your favorite dinner recipes. Yet before you decide to reach for those leftover homemade churros or stop for a large helping of fries at your favorite fast food joint, you may want to think twice, especially if you're planning to eat these fried delicacies right before bedtime.

The downside of eating fried food as your pre-bedtime snack

You might have special plans this weekend like a movie marathon with friends or trying your hand at deep-fried candy bars. Yet before indulging in one or three, just make sure not to eat these chocolatey treats right before bedtime. The Takeout recently revealed what really happens during aspiration, which according to the Developmental Disabilities Administration is when food or a similar substance travels down your airway into your lungs as opposed to your stomach. In detailing how to prevent food from traveling down the wrong path, the Cleveland Clinic advises readers to avoid fatty and fried foods three hours before bedtime (via The Takeout). Food-producing acid can rise through your esophagus while you're asleep, causing you to choke.

The acid popping back up in your throat not only causes other unpleasant symptoms such as heartburn but it has a fancy name: GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease which Healthline claims affects nearly 28% of Americans. If you're a person who tends to also suffer from laryngitis or the feeling like you may have something stuck in your throat, you may want to avoid eating before bed since gravity won't be on your side: That pesky acid will have a greater chance of making a reappearance. If you've been forever enjoying a stacked burger right before bed, don't be too hard on yourself. There is actually a scientific reason why your body craves fried foods in the late evening hours.

As the day progresses, you need more energy

Before you choose yet another snack from your ongoing list of easy foods that satisfy late-night cravings, if you're trying to reduce your fat intake, you may want to save snacking for earlier in the day. Food Insight's 2022 food and health survey just revealed out of the 67% of respondents who admitted to snacking in the evening, nighttime snack options tended to be richer and more calorie-laden than those consumed in the morning or early afternoon. Why is that?

According to The Atlantic, we as humans crave fried foods late in the day because we're running low on energy. Cortisol hormone levels also drop at night which can decrease your energy levels, tricking your mind into thinking it needs fast energy-producing foods to make up for lower amounts of fuel or lack of cortisol (per The Atlantic). Seemingly, the quick fix to this conundrum is going to bed earlier and taking away that potential 2 a.m. snack.

Interestingly, CNN points to endocannabinoids as partially responsible for our late-night cravings. Healthline describes endocannabinoids as inherent neurotransmitters in the human body linked to our decisions surrounding appetite and food preferences. While CNN admits more research needs to be conducted as to why these naturally occurring receptors prefer indulgent foods, only you can decide if eating fried food before bed is worth any potential pitfalls.