While eating late at night is not exactly the healthiest choice, there are times when you simply are too hungry to fall asleep. On rare occasions, it’s ok to eat something very close to bedtime – as long as you choose a snack that’s healthy.
Loading up on junk foods might satisfy your late-night cravings, but this may also pack on the pounds, and lead to serious health issues.
Read on for a few healthier ways to enjoy a late night snack (on occasion).
The Problem With Eating Late At Night
There’s been a lot of research conducted into the effects of eating a snack before bed.1 The general consensus is you should either limit eating food at night or avoid it entirely – and for good reason. Some people might experience digestive issues if they eat too much food before bedtime.2,3 Digesting throughout the night is also not preferred because it does not allow your body to use as much of its energy towards reparative processes that take place while you’re sleeping.
However, every now and then a late night snack is ok to indulge in. Just be sure to make the healthiest food choice possible and avoid sugar and processed foods. Here are a few ideas.4,5,6,7
According to one study, participants who drank four ounces of goji berry juice not only slept better, but also woke up easier than those who drank a placebo.8 If you prefer eating dried goji berries, five tablespoons (a little less than a handful) contains less than 100 calories.9
Almond Butter And Apples
If you love apples, try dipping them in unsweetened almond butter for a delicious nighttime snacking treat.10 Almonds are a good source of magnesium, healthy fats, and vitamin E. Again, make sure you’re using unsweetened almond butter to avoid excess sugar (and calories).11
Broccoli And Cauliflower
These two vegetables are not only perfect for late night snacking, they’re also really good for you – much better than those salty snacks that might be part of your nightly routine. Broccoli and cauliflower have a high fiber content.12 This could help support cardiovascular health as well as blood sugar control. They’re also packed with beneficial vitamins.13,14
But the potential benefits don’t end there. Broccoli and cauliflower are also a great source of antioxidants, compounds that help the body in a wide variety of ways.15 Two of these antioxidants, zeaxanthin and lutein, are believed to help support healthy vision.16 Cauliflower and broccoli are in the family of cruciferous vegetables, which have been shown to help support the cardiovascular system.17
Late Night Snacking Behaviors To Avoid
Some people consistently eat unhealthy food for their nighttime snack – they’ve done it for years. And they might pay the price in the form of excess weight. The quality of their sleep may suffer as well.18 If you’re one of these people, here are a few things you might want to avoid when it comes to eating food at night.
- Eating out of habit – If you like watching a game or your favorite show on TV before bed, you might find yourself mindlessly munching on a bowl of chips or a handful of cookies, and unfortunately this can pack on a lot of calories.
- Eating too many carbs – But too much of a good thing – namely carbohydrates – is bad. Try to avoid carbs at night as they can turn to fat more easily when you’re asleep.
- Stay away from starch-filled, fat-filled, salty snacks – Salty snacks may be the worst offenders when it comes to snacking before bedtime. Chips and queso, for instance are loaded with calories. Some people even find that after they eat something salty, they need something sweet – that just compounds the problem.19
Tips To Help Control Late-Night Cravings
It’s really best to try and cut out nighttime snacking altogether. Although it may seem impossible, you can do it. Here are some tips that might help.
- Add fiber and protein to your diet – If you add more foods containing protein and fiber to your diet, you might not even feel hungry at night. Try eating oatmeal with fat-free milk at breakfast, some healthy seafood at lunch, and a low-fat chicken breast or lean steak at dinner. Foods like these should really boost your protein levels. As far as fiber is concerned, try eating more fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
- Shut off all of your screens – Plenty of people love snacking while watching TV or checking social media on their phones or tablets at night. When you snack while you’re distracted, you might not realize exactly how much you’re eating. These distractions can also interfere with the signals that tell your brain you’re full.
- Get enough sleep – Not getting enough sleep can really do a number on your appetite. You might think you’re hungry when you’re actually tired. Cravings after dinner might be a sign that you need more rest, not more food. On average, adults should get anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep each night.20
Here’s To Happy, Healthy Snacking
Hopefully, you can change your snacking habits from unhealthy foods to healthy ones. Doing so could be great for both your body and the quality of your sleep.
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