Late-Night Eating Might Not Be So Bad For You After All (VIDEO)

May 23, 2014 | Updated May 23, 2014

We've all been there: It's well past dinnertime (perhaps even bedtime) but persistent hunger pangs tempt us toward the kitchen. We tell ourselves we can't give in -- after all, everyone says that late-night eating is terrible for us, right?

Well, not everyone. Registered dietician Rebecca Scritchfield actually has a very different perspective on late-night eating, which she explained in a recent interview for the Oprah.com web series #OWNSHOW.

"One of the myths I still hear about is, 'You shouldn't eat anything after 7 or 8 o'clock at night,'" Scritchfield says in the above video. "That's just simply not true."

Whether it's 8 p.m. or 11 p.m., Scritchfield says the time doesn't matter. "There's nothing magical that happens in your body where... the clock strikes a certain hour [and] you start storing everything as fat," she explains.

Taking cues from your body and eating a balanced plate are far more important than what time you eat. "You want to make sure you avoid eating if you're not hungry," Scritchfield says. "That's the key thing. Other than that, the time of day really doesn't matter. As long as you're hungry, it's a good time."

So, don't dismiss those hunger pangs. Scritchfield also advises paying attention to your body's other signals that you may be hungry.

"Sometimes you don't even feel that belly growling. It might be a dip in energy or it might be this feeling that you have an emptiness in your stomach," she says. "It could come every three to five hours, even if you're eating healthy and balanced. Don't run away from it. That's actually a time to go ahead and eat."

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