Late Night Snacking
If you are hungry at night, you should eat something. Eating at night will not slow down your metabolism and if you are smart about snacking it will not cause you to gain weight either. Think about what you have eaten during the day and see what you have missed. Most often, it’s going to be fruits, vegetables or dairy. If that is the case, get in that extra fiber and calcium.
Fruits and vegetables are one of the best sources of fiber in your diet, as well as complex carbohydrates. Both nutrients are important for your body to feel full for a longer period of time. But not eating enough fruits and vegetables, your body will be deprived of this rich source of fiber and complex carbohydrates, causing you to feel hungry after. That feeling of hunger comes from quick blood sugar spikes and drops, which can happen if your diet is low in fiber. Fiber can help keep your blood sugar stable, which in return, won’t make you feel as hungry soon after enjoying a meal.
Aim to eat balanced meals of fiber, protein and healthy fats spaced every three to four hours throughout the day. This keeps blood sugar stable instead of crashing, spiking and leading to cravings at night.
Still, no one wants to go to bed hungry. If you had a smaller or an earlier dinner, you might need a bedtime snack. You can eat after 8 p.m. by choosing nutrient-dense snacks that are packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats. This combo slows the rise of blood sugar and is digested slowly, keeping you full.
Whole, minimally processed foods like berries, kiwis, goji berries, edamame, pistachios, oatmeal, plain yogurt and eggs make easy, tasty and healthy late-night snacks. Many of these foods even contain sleep-supportive compounds, including tryptophan, serotonin, melatonin, magnesium and calcium. Other good ideas for a late-night snack include string cheese, popcorn, whole wheat toast with peanut butter, Greek yogurt w/fruit, and veggies.
According to research it’s timing quality of food and quantity of food all affect whether late-night snacking has positive or negative health effects. Late night snacks to avoid include things like pizza, high-sugar cereal, chips, candy and spicy foods as they foods can cause heartburn, contain very few nutrients or can impair healthy blood sugar metabolism.
Again, it is okay to eat after dinner but choose foods with fiber, protein and healthy fat instead of sugary, greasy foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle.