Eating late at night in itself isn't bad for you, but chances are you're eating cold pizza instead of apple slices. Adding those extra calories does the late-night damage, according to a 2005 Oregon Health & Science University study. Snacking late at night can also exacerbate symptoms for those prone to heartburn, as lying down after eating makes it easier for stomach acid to flow into the esophagus.
Break it. Boredom, not hunger, is of the root cause of late-night eating, says Pamela Peeke, MD, author of Fit to Live. Once the craving hits, focus on an activity that engages you until it's time to go to sleep, such as e-mail, a crossword puzzle, or meditation. It's also common for people to chow down while watching TV. In fact, a study from the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago found that people who were allowed to eat as many potato chips as they wanted ate 44% more chips while watching Letterman than while not watching TV. Keep your hands busy while you watch by folding laundry, using your BlackBerry, or knitting—that way you won't be tempted to break out the Ruffles.