If you ate dinner at 6 p.m. and you’re still up at 11 p.m., it’s natural that you might feel hungry. Contrary to popular belief, eating at night doesn’t make you gain weight—exceeding your daily calorie need does—but there are specific foods that don’t make the best bedtime snacks.
This is most people’s go-to food when they can’t sleep. Not all cereals are bad choices at night, but if you’re eating a high-sugar, low-fiber one, then you’re wreaking havoc with your blood sugar. You’ll likely wake up starving a few hours later or in the morning due to the over-production of insulin the sugar triggers. Instead, try topping non-fat Greek yogurt with a whole-grain, high-fiber cereal (≥4 grams/serving) for a low-sugar, high-protein snack.
The burn of hot food may be calling to you, but think twice before indulging. The spicy flavors can actually keep you from going to sleep. Not to mention, many spicy foods are often high in fat and calories, so they can totally sabotage a day of good eating as well as lead to heartburn. If your craving won’t go away, try making a small quesadilla in the skillet using corn tortillas, low-fat cheese, and cooking spray. For something more substantial, try a mild frozen burrito under 300 calories such as those from EVOL.
Greasy, heavy foods are obviously high in calories and fat, but they also weigh on your stomach and take awhile to digest, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish in the morning. Try to avoid high-fat, greasy foods such as burgers, pizza, and fast-food Chinese. If you need a meal, opt for a small turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread.
Not only does chocolate have calories and sugar, but it also has caffeine, which may contribute to restless sleep. Chocolate isn’t a filling snack either, so if you’re craving it, you may not necessarily be hungry. Rather, your sweet tooth may be getting to best of you. Try hot tea or a glass of low-fat chocolate milk. For something more filling, opt for a graham cracker with 1 tablespoon of chocolate-hazelnut spread or other nut butter and ½ cup milk.
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Sodas are one of America’s biggest sources of added sugar and empty calories, so they’re obviously not great choices any time. But late at night, even sugar-free diet sodas can keep you awake. The soda’s carbonation can trigger heartburn, as well as upset your stomach. Instead, opt for fat-free or low-fat milk, hot tea, or water before bed.