There are so many rules and restrictions surrounding food. From allowing yourself “cheat days” to cutting out gluten or carbs or fasting for certain hours of the day, to our least favorite rule: No eating at night! But what if you’re hungry at night? Sometimes you just need a bedtime snack!
Is eating at night really that bad? And if so, why is it so bad, and is there anything at all that you can eat if you get hungry at, say, 8:01 pm?
It turns out that it’s not necessarily eating at night that’s so bad—it’s what and how much you eat that matters. It’s the fact that it’s tougher to control yourself and your cravings when you’re tired and sitting in front of the TV or computer screen. It’s much easier to eat controlled, healthy meals throughout the day if you make the effort, because you’re often at work or running errands or just going about your day in some way.
At night, however, you’ve had a long day at work, you’re tired, you just want to lay in bed watching Netflix and eating junk food, and then that food causes indigestion and affects your ability to fall asleep. This combination of factors is what leads to the belief that eating at night is bad.
Eating at Night is (Mostly) Okay!
If you find yourself feeling hungry at night, don’t use it as an excuse to give in to your cravings. While it’s true that you shouldn’t go to bed on a full stomach, you also don’t want to go to bed starving. If you can’t wait until breakfast, a good rule of thumb is to choose a healthy snack that contains both protein and carbs and to limit your portions. This way you’ll be full, but not over-stuffed, while you sleep. Here are a few quick bedtime snack suggestions:
Apple Slices with Peanut Butter
A great throwback to those after-school snacks, apple slices with peanut butter are a great pre-bedtime meal. One apple is around 100 calories, and it’s sweet, which will trick your mind into thinking you’re having dessert but is healthier than a bowl of ice cream or a slice of cake. Peanut butter is high in protein and will keep you full longer than a higher calorie salt- or sugar-filled alternative.
Prepackaged 100-Calorie Snacks
Provided you only eat one, a prepackaged snack will help you limit your calories and avoid mindless eating. Have you ever grabbed a full-sized bag of chips or popcorn from the cupboard with the intention of only eating a little, but you don’t notice yourself finish the entire bag? Well, a prepackaged snack may not be the healthiest alternative, but it does prevent you from binge eating and is easier to control your portions compared to a full-sized bag of whatever you’re craving.
Greek Yogurt and Fruit
Greek yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt, and the sweetness will again trick your body into thinking you’re eating dessert if that’s what you crave. Keep in mind that plain or vanilla flavored Greek yogurt is a healthier alternative to fruit flavored, which contains significantly more sugar. If you want to add more sweetness, add your own honey or chopped up fresh fruit, or even mix in some peanut butter for a creamy snack.
The easiest way to prevent being hungry at night is to make sure you get enough to eat during the day! Add the “Eat a Great Breakfast” habit to your daily ritual to start each day off on the right foot.