Top 5 Healthy Late-Night Snacks
By Madalina Hubert
It’s late and you’re feeling hungry. You don’t want to be eating after dinner, but you need the energy. So what options do you have? Are there some healthy late-night snacks you can eat without guilt?
Yes, for sure. Here are some of the top ones to keep in mind:
Fruits Are Great Healthy Late-Night Snacks
Many fruits not only satisfy your craving but may also help you sleep better. Among these are bananas, strawberries, kiwis and goji berries. These fruits are both nutrient-rich and contain chemicals that help you relax, such as the hormone melatonin or the amino acid tryptophan.
Vegetables Are Low In Calories
A light serving of vegetables can soothe hunger and give you the energy you need, without affecting your sleep. Some of the best vegetables to eat at night are edamame (unripe, green soybeans), broccoli, tomatoes and cucumbers. They are low in calories and rich in nutrients, making them healthy late-night snacks.
Lean Meats Are Healthy Late-Night Snacks
Light and relatively easy to digest, you can enjoy them with a small serving of bread, rice, and vegetables. Lean meats such as chicken, turkey and fish contain tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that relaxes your body.
Light Dairies Can Help You Sleep Better
When the kids can’t sleep, giving them a warm glass of milk often helps. That’s because products such as yogurt and milk contain calcium and proteins that help satisfy the hunger pangs, as well as help you relax and sleep better. When looking for a healthy late-night snack, consider eating plain yogurt (or top it with berries or other fruits) to avoid any unhealthy sugars. Not only can sugar disrupt your sleep, but it may also lead to weight gain.
Trail Mix Are Full of Nutrients
Nuts, seeds, and dried fruits are great healthy late-night snacks because they are rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and fibers. You can sprinkle them to complement a salad, a cereal bowl, yogurt or even fresh fruit. But try to keep the trail mix portions small because they are quite calorie-rich.
Tips for Late-Night Snacking
Lastly, when considering whether to have a late-night snack, even if it is a healthy one, here are some important tips to keep in mind:
- Make Sure You’re Actually Hungry
Sometimes we eat because we are stressed, bored, have bad habits or even because we are thirsty. Before reaching for that healthy late-night snack, try to get a cup of water or make yourself a cup of herbal tea first. Not only will these drinks energize and hydrate you, but they could actually satisfy those light hunger pangs.
- Avoid Foods in Certain Categories
Among these are sweets, spicy/acidic foods, processed or fatty foods, alcohol and caffeine. They are harder to digest and lead to weight gain, especially when eating them as late-night snacks.
- Eat Smaller Portions
This can reduce pressure on the digestive system late at night when it is least active.
- Look for Foods That Help You Sleep Better
The 5 food categories that we mentioned in the first part of the article all contain nutrients that help the body relax and sleep better, making them healthy late-night snacks.
- Eat Slowly & Mindfully
This principle is important any time of day, but especially at night when you want to avoid overeating.
That said, try eating nutritious meals throughout the day, so you don’t have to look for a late-night snack.
Here are some great recipes you can prepare at home:
If stress is a problem, you can look into meditation and other forms of relaxation. Check out our article: Breathing Techniques & Mindfulness Tips.
And if you want to learn more traditional principles of healthy eating, you can read our article: Food as Medicine in Chinese Culture.
Madalina Hubert is a Toronto-based writer specializing in art, culture, travel, and culinary explorations.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are purely informational and educational in nature. The information is not a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.