Healthy Late Night Snacks

December 17, 2021

It’s 9pm and your stomach is grumbling.  First off, let’s address why that is happening. If you get to the very end of the day and are still hungry to the point of tummy rumbling, it typically means that you haven’t consumed enough. Make sure that you are spreading your calories over the course of your day, eating every few hours, and consuming a wide range of nutrients.  Certainly, there are times when life can get crazy and your schedule is so busy that you get to the end of the day and you haven’t consumed nearly as much as you should have.  This is when it is particularly important to listen to your body and feed it nutrient-dense foods (ie: not a pint of Ben and Jerry’s!).  Being in tune with and listening to your body is an essential part of having a healthy relationship with your body and with food. If the hunger is real, it should be fed. 

Your body needs a certain number of calories each day to survive and thrive. While that number is different for everyone, depending on so many factors, if it hasn’t been met by the end of the day, your body will let you know. You may have hunger pangs or feel sluggish, and that’s the time when a healthy snack is important.  Having healthy choices ready to go is particularly important because studies show that choices regarding food consumed late at night are often less nutritious than the choices made earlier in the day.  If you have a designated area in the pantry and fridge for healthy go-to nighttime snacks, you take the temptation and difficulty out of deciding what to eat. 

Here are a few great choices for late night:

  1. Frozen Grapes: Grapes are chock full of nutrients, especially antioxidants and vitamin C. Try them as a frozen treat – delicious! Easy on the stomach, these won’t leave you feeling heavy and bloated right before bed.
  2. Nuts: Filled with satiating, healthy fat as well as nutrients such as vitamin E and magnesium, nuts are a great choice.  Make sure that you are mindful of the portion on these little treats though, as they can pack a caloric punch.  Try the pre-portioned 100 calorie snack packs for an easy snack. Shelled pistachios are also a great choice, as their melatonin content helps promote better sleep.
  3. Yogurt: Casein (one of the proteins in yogurt) is a long-lasting source of amino acids, which means, when eaten at night, it can enhance availability of amino acids throughout the night, leaving you feeling satiated.  If eating a cup of yogurt doesn’t appeal to you, try mixing it with some frozen berries and blending it into an evening smoothie.
  4. Banana with Nut Butter: Rich is serotonin, bananas are easy on the stomach and when combined with a magnesium-rich nut butter (such as almond butter), provide a filling and long-lasting sweet treat. Since serotonin is converted into melatonin in our bodies, this is another simple and easy late night snack that will promote good sleep.
  5. Hot Oatmeal: A warm bowl of fiber-rich oats cooked with casein-rich milk is the perfect combo for a filling and healthy treat at night.  This satisfying snack will not only quell your hunger, but also promote a good night’s rest!
  6. Edamame: If savory is more your jam at night, try a half cup of these unripen, green soybeans. You can easily buy them fresh or frozen and toss them with a little sprinkle of salt and/or pepper for a savory kick.  You can also find dry-roasted edamame in the store for an even quicker go-to snack.
  7. Apple with Cheese: Full of fiber, apples are filling while not leaving you feeling sluggish and loaded down.  Adding protein from string cheese or a couple of slices of sharp cheddar will keep you feeing full for longer, while also slowing the digestion process.
  8. Popcorn: Plain, unbuttered popcorn is a great whole grain that will fill your stomach without a lot of heavy calories.  This a light, crunchy, and savory treat that you can easily have ready in a matter of minutes.

Making sure that you are eating well throughout the day and consuming a wide range of nutrients is important. Don’t wait until 8 or 9pm rolls around to cram in half of your day’s calories. When the hunger pangs do strike though, grab something from the list above for a quick, healthy, and easy go-to snack that may also help you get a more restful night’s sleep!

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