While eating candy on occasion won't wreck your healthy diet, eating sweets before bed can be problematic — especially if you have a medical condition such as diabetes. And if you make a habit of eating sweets late at night, you'll increase your risk of developing health problems.
While eating sweets before bed once in a while won't wreck a healthy diet, making it a daily habit can lead to health issues.
Read more: The 20 Most Dangerous Candies
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Limit Added Sugars
Not all sugars are created equal. Naturally occurring sugar is present in foods such as fruit and milk. These types of foods typically have other nutritional content.
Fruit is its whole form tends to be low in calories and contains fiber and other important vitamins and minerals. Milk also provides protein and calcium.
Candy is made mostly of added sugars. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the Department of Health & Human Services, added sugars make up 13 percent of the average American's daily calorie intake.
According to these guidelines, added sugars should not make up more than 10 percent of daily calories — candy included.
Based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, that equals about 50 grams of added sugars. As explained by the American Heart Association, 50 grams of sugar is 200 calories.
Keep in mind that your individual daily calorie needs might be less than 2,000, depending on your age and activity level. Once you've determined your ideal calorie intake, as provided by the Mayo Clinic, you can decide whether eating candy at night is worth it or not.
For comparison, a generic milk chocolate candy bar weighing 1.5 ounces provides 16.5 grams of added sugars, according to the USDA's FoodData Central.
Eating Sweets Before Bed
Consuming foods high in added sugars, such as eating candy at night, causes a sharp rise in blood sugar levels. In response, the body produces a quick release of insulin — a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels, as explained by Harvard Health Publishing.
Physical activity can help reduce blood sugar levels. As explained by the American Diabetes Association, active muscles can remove sugar from your blood stream and use it as energy. If you're eating candy at night before you go to sleep, this won't happen.
Read more: 10 Healthiest Candy Bars
When deciding whether or not to eat sweets before bed, consider how often you consume added sugars throughout the day.
When you repeatedly overwhelm your body through a high blood sugar level, such as habitually eating sweets late at night, your body can't keep up with insulin production. As a result, blood sugar levels stay elevated, leading to a host of medical problems.
Chronically high levels of blood sugar can lead to a condition called diabetes — a high price to pay for regularly eating too much sugar before bed (or throughout the day).
As explained by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, this disease can lead to other problems, including nerve damage, heart disease, kidney issues and changes in your vision.
- Department of Health & Human Services: "2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Sugar and Your Heart: Sour News About Sweets"
- American Heart Association: "Sugar 101"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Candy Bar"
- Mayo Clinic: "Calorie Calculator"
- American Diabetes Association: "Blood Sugar and Exercise"
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "What is Diabetes?"