World Diabetes Day 2022: The timing of your meal can play a big role in managing your blood sugar levels. This is especially true in case of dinner time which could be the deciding factor behind stable or uncontrolled glucose levels in people with diabetes. Experts say those who eat late dinner and consume too much carbohydrates around bed time are at high risk of increased sugar levels and obesity. On the other hand, having early dinner can prevent unexpected and sudden sugar spikes keeping one healthy and free from diabetes complications. Besides going for more protein and fibre is also helpful keeping carbs limited can help fasting glucose levels. Here’s all you want to know about the right time to eat dinner for people with diabetes. (Also read: World Diabetes Day 2022: Doctors on tips to become diabetes-free and achieve remission)
What’s the problem with late-night eating
“Late-night eating, high carbohydrate intake at night, processed foods, and disturbed sleep are all factors that contribute to the body’s high fasting sugar levels. People who eat late, consume too much carbohydrate at dinner, and have irregular sleeping patterns are the group at the high risk of rising sugar levels,” says Dr Sunil Kumar Mishra, Senior Director, Division of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Endocrinology and Diabetology, Gurugram
Dr Mishra says this is the reason people are advised to wrap up dinner early and consume less carbs, more fibre and protein, so that the digestion process is smooth and blood glucose levels are fine.
“To treat or prevent low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) during the night, it is advised to eat 2 hours before bedtime and not to sleep immediately after dinner and avoid greasy foods and a high carb diet,” says Dr Mishra.
Benefits of eating early dinner for diabetics
“It is critical to eat the right foods at the right times. Eating dinner late promotes metabolic issues in people, including problems with glucose metabolism, whereas eating early has a positive impact on blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and triglycerides. A recent study has discovered that people with type 2 diabetes can benefit from prolonged fasting, which means eating dinner earlier,” says the expert.
How eating late at night could spike sugar levels
“There are multiple factors at play. When people take excessive carbohydrates and calories at night, it takes time for food mediated glucose disposal to happen in the body. And it is imperative that glucose be utilised by the body. During the day, since we are awake, moving around, and performing various physical activities throughout the day, this helps our body in the utilisation of the glucose in a couple of hours, whereas at night, the body is at rest as we tend not to perform physical activities during that time, which makes the baseline sugar levels to rise, and then after some time, the liver starts producing glucose in the body, which in turn increases the hyperglycaemia levels. It has been observed that if one snacks after an evening meal — especially on foods with carbohydrates — one may wake up the next morning with a high blood sugar level,” says Dr Mishra.
What feeling hungry in the middle of the night means
Feeling hungry at night is a sign of low sugar levels. There is a need to follow proper diabetes regimen for such people. Also, there are times when people are on medications or insulin, which can cause low sugar levels in the middle of the night.
“In both such scenarios, people should check their glucose levels if they are feeling hungry at night. However, we now have medications that do not cause low blood sugar levels, saving people from having to deal with hyperglycaemia. In addition to that, they should consult their doctor if they are on such medications that are causing low sugar. However, if the medications are not as such, they should build up their habit of not binge eating during the night. Even after that, if they feel hungry, it is best for their health to switch from high-calorie processed foods like cookies to healthy foods like nuts, seeds, and fruits,” says the expert.
Best and worst time to have dinner for diabetics
People with diabetes should eat dinner between 8 and 9 pm. Eating close to bedtime or late at night must be avoided.