At some point in your life you’ve been told you shouldn’t eat after a certain hour in the evening. The idea is that the food will just sit in your stomach all night causing you possible stomach pain, constipation and weight gain. Yet, we’ve all done it. So how bad really is it to eat before bed? And if you’ve missed dinner and you’re hungry, is it best to skip the meal entirely if it’s too close to bed?

Erin Jennings, MS, RD, CSO, CDN, a registered dietitian at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, NY, told Real Simple that if you’re hungry, you should eat. “Your body is perfectly capable of digesting and absorbing your food at any hour of the day,” she said.

But that doesn’t exactly give those high-sugar, high-fat foods like ice cream the green light. The real problem with eating late isn’t the hour necessarily — it’s what you crave at that hour. Burgers and fries or burritos aren’t exactly appropriate for this hour. “Large portions of high-fat or a super spicy meal right before bed could aggravate acid reflux or indigestion,” said Jennings.

One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that nighttime eaters ate 12 percent more calories than those who restricted eating hours to the day. So be wary of what you eat. Opt for a healthy smoothie, a small sandwich or some yogurt.

All this said, it’s important to take a moment and decide if you’re actually hungry or if it’s something else. If you’re tired or emotional about something, you could be gravitating toward food for the wrong reasons.

So the take-away: If you missed dinner because you worked late, definitely eat something — but always keep it sensible.

(h/t Real Simple)

Also see, The most unhealthy Chinese dishes you can order.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.