You've probably heard that if you eat dinner after a certain time at night, it's horrible for your health and you're doomed — but that's a touch dramatic. It's true that your metabolism slows down at night, and eating right before bed could trigger acid reflux in some people. But it is not the end of the world if you eat dinner past 6 p.m.
If your work or life schedule only permits you to eat on the later side, then it's better to go to bed fed than hungry. But when you're exhausted from your day, it can feel harder to listen to your body's hunger cues, which is why many people are prone to mindless snacking and overeating in the evening. The key is eating a meal that won't mess with your sleep, but will keep your stomach full. In terms of timing, about three hours before bed — whenever that is for you — is best, because it allows time for digestion.
Now, what should you eat if you're past prime dinner hours? There's not one "perfect meal," because we've all got different lifestyles and different foods on our grocery lists. But ahead, registered dietitians share meal ideas and tips to follow if you find yourself staring blankly into the abyss of your fridge late at night searching for dinner.