Your hectic day is thankfully over, and you can finally settle in for some relaxation and downtime. But, before you can even turn a page in your new book...here it comes...the late night snack attack. Even though eating late in the day can be troublesome for your metabolism and can also affect your sleep patterns, sometimes you just need a snack!
Before you reach for the first thing you see in the pantry, take a moment to understand why you have cravings and the best ways to handle them.
- Have you eaten enough nutritious foods? Late night hunger can mean you did not fuel your body properly during the day. Concentrate on high fiber, protein rich foods throughout the day to make sure you stay satisfied.
- Are you bored, stressed or sad? Our emotions can play a huge role in when and what we eat. When these or other emotional triggers are the cause of your hunger, try distracting yourself. Call a friend, jump in the shower or take a quick 10 minute walk around the block. After a few minutes you may even forget you were hungry.
If in the end, you decide, yes I really do need a snack, don’t beat yourself up about it. Going to bed hungry, can lead to an unrestful night’s sleep. Instead, reach for something satisfying yet nutritious and delicious.
- Late night sweet tooth? Try antioxidant-rich dark chocolate trail mix to help you feel full and even help you fall asleep faster. Create your own combination with almonds, walnuts and dried cranberries which have been found to promote sleep inducing melatonin. Include pumpkin seeds, rich in magnesium and tryptophan, also linked to improved sleep. Dark chocolate, although decadent, is healthy and nutritious.
- Rice cakes with your favorite toppings such as almond butter and sliced banana are also a great choice. Light and nutritious, bananas are rich in the nerve messenger serotonin which the body converts to melatonin. And, since almonds are also a source of melatonin, it's a win-win!
PPB Tip: Protein Power Ball makes a great late night bite. Perfectly portioned, it can satisfy any cravings!
Late night snacking doesn’t have to be taboo, however, there are certain things to stay away from. Heavy, greasy and fatty foods should be avoided at all costs. Aside from wreaking havoc on your health, they can cause reflux while you are sleeping, disrupting your rest.
You should also avoid caffeine after 6 PM. So, even if a steamy hot cup of joe before bed may sound like a great idea, opt for a soothing cup of herbal tea instead. It will help relax you and prepare you for sleep. Similarly, avoid excess alcohol in the evenings. Even though it may help you fall asleep faster, it has been known to disrupt REM sleep causing you to wake up frequently during the night. It can also lead to a case of ‘the munchies’ which may lower inhibitions and lead to poor food choices.
Snacking happens so we may as well embrace it! As long as we keep the late night snack monster under control, we can enjoy the occasional indulgence without sabotaging our health goals. So, stick to nutritious, delicious options and snack on!