As the moon rises, so can our tendency to wander into a kitchen and indulge in some late-night snacking. But eating at night doesn't have to interfere with a good night's sleep or ruin your healthful eating plan. The key is to pay attention to portion sizes and reach for low-calorie, sleep-promoting foods with good nutritional content that won't leave you bloated and tired in the morning.
A good nighttime snack is around 200 calories and has complex carbohydrates and protein. Carbs are good because when digested, they release serotonin, which calms you down and helps you sleep. Plus, serotonin is considered nature's own appetite suppressant. This powerful brain chemical puts the brakes on your appetite and curbs cravings so you eat less. And adding a little bit of protein to your late-night snack will keep you feeling full until breakfast.
Here are a few easy-to-digest snacks that won't disturb your sleep or your healthy diet:
- 1 apple and 1 piece of string cheese or individually wrapped snack-size cheese
- 1 ounce of low-fat cheese and 4 to 6 whole-grain crackers
- 1 slice of whole-grain toast and 1 tablespoon of nut butter
- 1/2 cup of 2 percent milk-fat cottage cheese and 1/2 cup of fruit or veggies
- 1 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup of berries
- 2 slices of turkey breast (white meat) and 10 baby carrots
To prevent hunger attacks at night, aim for smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to stay full and curb the desire to indulge in the wee hours. In general, it is better to eat the majority of your calories during the day, when you are most active. But a reasonable late-night snack that satisfies your hunger before bed isn't enough to mess up your healthy eating plans.
Healthy snacks in proper portions can help support your eating plan and keep you on track to a healthy lifestyle.