Does Eating Before Bed Promote Weight Gain?

Food and nutrition

Published on 31 January 2019
by Isabelle Huot

True or false: Eating before going to bed contributes to weight gain. The answer may surprise you!



FALSE. Whether we gain weight or not is really determined by the sum of the calories we consume throughout the day. Nonetheless, eating food at night can still present problems. We often snack after dinner even though we don’t truly feel hungry. Sitting comfortably on our sofa, we suddenly feel the urge to rummage through the pantry. Why does this happen? Several factors may be behind this phenomenon, which we call false hunger.


  • Visual hunger: Has an ad given you an irresistible craving?
  • Olfactory hunger: Is someone cooking or eating near you?
  • Emotional hunger: Are you angry, sad, exhausted, proud, or happy?
  • Oral hunger: Do you have the urge to feel certain taste sensations in your mouth? Are you salivating?
  • Mental or rational hunger: Do you feel compelled to go get a snack even though you’re not hungry? Maybe from habit?

When we eat even though we’re not hungry, we risk ingesting unnecessary calories, leading to weight gain. However, if you really are hungry, you can—and should—eat! Several resources, such as the book Cessez de manger vos émotions (Stop Eating Your Emotions) from Éditions de l’homme, are available to help you improve your relationship with food.


The final factor related to after-dinner munchies is the nutritional quality of the food consumed at that time of day. Although many people choose to eat healthy foods during the day, comfort foods tend to prevail in the evening. Naturally, if you enjoy snacking on chips or cookies after sundown, you would benefit from changing that habit.


Isabelle Huot
Doctor in nutrition