Are you a late-night snacker? While the myth that late-night eating is bad for your diet has been disproved, that doesn't mean that all snacks are created equal. The best late-night snacks are easy to digest — carbs are good, but not too much fiber, protein, or fat — so you don't lie awake from feeling too full. But if your late-night eating includes grilled cheese, ice cream, or gobs of peanut butter, here are a few healthier options for you. Make these ahead of time for quick snacking when the mood strikes!
There's no need to deny yourself a late-night snack if you're feeling hungry, but you still have to think smart when it comes to eating late. Eating the wrong foods will disrupt your sleep while also adding a lot of unneeded calories to your day. Instead of just diving into the nearest, tastiest-looking item in your fridge, here are five types of foods to avoid at night and why.
- Greasy or fat-filled foods: Greasy, heavy, fatty foods not only make you feel sluggish the next morning, but they also make your stomach work overdrive to digest all that food. Stay away from things like fast food, nuts, ice cream, or super cheesy foods right before bed.
- High-carb or sugary foods: A little bit of something sweet before bed may be just what you need to rest happy, but if you gobble a huge slice of chocolate cake, the spike in your blood-sugar levels could cause your energy levels to spike and plummet, disrupting your sleep in the process. Avoid cake, cookies, or other desserts as well as carby snacks like crackers or white bread and munch on an apple instead.
Read more foods to avoid late at night after the break!
Late-night snacking can be a calorie-loaded diet pitfall, but if you're able to recognize the reason behind your cravings, you can curb the impulse and stick to your healthy habits. Regularly find yourself back in the kitchen shortly after dinner? Here's why you keep snacking, plus how to scale back:
- You skimp on food throughout the day. If you aren't eating enough at each meal, your body is going to kick into hunger overdrive later. Do you skip breakfast to save time? Breeze through a small lunch because you're too busy to keep eating? It's important to space out your food intake so that the hunger doesn't sneak up on you after dinner. Make sure to stay satisfied by eating a mix of protein, fats, and carbohydrates at every meal.
- You're sad, angry, or _____. Any and all emotions can trigger the impulse to eat. Lower the odds of stress-fueled fridge raids by staying in touch with how you're feeling and choosing different outlets. If you start to regularly unwind in other ways — by calling a friend, for instance, or taking a walk — then you'll learn to deal with your anxiety before you even think to storm the cabinets.
Keep reading for more healthy snacking tips.
Whether it's because you spend the days counting calories or because an evening out extends into the wee hours, sometimes you find yourself heading to the kitchen for a late-night fridge pit stop. And while the long-believed rule that eating in the evening will lead to weight gain is a myth, a day of depriving can lead to decisions that compromise your healthy living plans if you're not careful.
If you find your stomach grumbling long after you've wound down for the night, here are some daytime eating habits to adopt.
- Eat every three to four hours. Keeping your calorie count down too much during the day will lead to overindulging later on and a higher probability that you'll reach for the wrong snacks later on. Keep yourself energized and on the right track by eating every four hours (breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a few snacks in between).
- Indulge a little. Have a sweet tooth? Allow yourself small treats during the day so you don't go crazy with your cravings during the night.
Check out the rest of my tips after the break.
In honor of Four Twenty, CollegeHumor has compiled a flowchart to help the day's hungry hordes decide what to eat when they've got the late night munchies. It's pretty funny, although I must argue that they've left some pretty crucial late-night snacks off the list: tacos, Chinese food, Thai noodles . . . the list goes on.
Nighttime grazing is the bane of my existence. Although I don't usually have them, I do love jalapeño poppers — or anything salty and creamy, like nachos, for that matter. Last night it was cheese and crackers. What's your favorite before-bed snack?
When it comes to losing weight, often exercise on its own is not enough. You do need to watch what you eat. After being focused on good nutrition all day long, does your willpower drop off at night? You need to make sure your night time snack is not keeping you from keeping your calories down.
My suggestion is to either close your kitchen after dinner or snack super consciously. Here are a few ideas to help you:
- Try those 100 calorie snack bags and limit yourself to just one. Eat the bag slowly and savor every bite.
- Eat two pieces of healthful dark chocolate and turn your snacking into a meditation.
- Drink naturally sweet flavored herbal teas to satisfy your sweet tooth and keep your calorie intake to zero. These days, I am loving Good Earth Original tea. It is spicy and sweet.
- Snacking on fruit or veggies is a great way to ensure you are getting your daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals. Carrots and celery have the snap of chips and a sweet pear is loaded with fiber.
Let me just remind you again that mindlessly snacking in front of the TV leads to more calories consumed than you think. Don't eat straight from the bag either. Pour a reasonable size portion into a bowl and put the bag away.