Yeah, yeah, we know it’s not good to eat right before bed or late at night. This type of behavior can throw off our sleep and put any diet out of whack quickly. But the reality is that some of us are up late at night even though we shouldn’t be. I’m a night-owl and do some of my best blog posts in the middle of the night. If it’s been 4+ hours since dinner and I still have a couple more hours to go, I’m really hungry and going to grab something to munch on. I’d better make it a decent choice.
There are ways to bend the rules a bit as long as we have a plan and a supply of healthy snacks on hand at all hours of the day or night. Planning for snacks is the big battle and makes or breaks your calorie count. So, what are some healthy snacks that will satisfy our snack attack, yet not break the diet and keep us up all night? There are plenty.
Keep Fruit Handy
Fruit is an easy, healthy way to satisfy your hunger without blowing your diet. Apple slices with a tablespoon of peanut butter, a bowl of grapes or berries, bananas, or orange slices are a few ideas that you can keep on hand in case of the late night munchies. Besides being healthy, slowly nibbling on fruit that’s juicy, crunchy, rich, or just plain sweet satisfies our urge to chew, which is often what’s causing our craving to begin with. We’re not so much hungry as just wanting to satisfy our need to nibble.
Veggies Any Time
Although veggies don’t seem like the thing you would crave late at night, they are a definite must to help satisfy your urge to snack without blowing your diet. Vegetables are low in fat and calories and are full of vitamins which are excellent for your overall health. Carrots, celery sticks, cauliflower, cucumber slices, or even radishes can help maintain your diet and still fulfill those cravings. A tiny bit of dip or hummus will help make the veggies more desirable. Again, it is often the chewing urge that gets us up out of bed and standing at the refrigerator. Be sure to have lots and lots of cut up, ready to eat, fresh veggies and you’ll be back in bed before you know it, and without busting your diet wide open, or having stuffed yourself too full to sleep.
Pop Goes the Snack
A small bowl of popcorn can help to satisfy the need to snack, both filling your tummy and giving you something to crunch. Be mindful of the toppings, as this is where the diet goes astray. Instead of buttery toppings, try a sprinkle of grated cheese, herbs, or seasonings. If you like a sweet snack at night, try a sprinkle of cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg to create a sweet, satisfying taste. Popcorn itself is low in calories and high in fiber. Again, beware of the brand of popcorn and the ingredients listed. Choose the most natural popcorn you can, then you decide on which healthier toppings to add.
Nuts are a great snack because a small amount will give you that “full” feeling. That is because of the fat, which is needed in all diets to give your tummy the signal that it’s full. In the case of nuts, the fat is healthy for you, so you get the good nutrients and the satisfaction. This is especially important at night when you want to eat a small amount of food but still feel full so you can get to sleep. Pecans, cashews, almonds, walnuts, or peanuts are powerhouses of nutrition to keep on hand at all times, night or day.
Just make sure that you stick to the serving size. Too much of a good thing isn’t better. Try adding 1/2 a serving of nuts to some popcorn to really feel full fast.
Drink Your Fill
Drinking something when you’re hungry may not seem like it would satisfy your urge to snack, but a glass of milk or even water can sway those cravings and cause that sleepy, ready-for-bed feeling. Most of the time if you are hungry it’s actually because you are dehydrated and need more water. Very few people drink the correct daily allowance of water which is a half your body weight in ounces at minimum. That means if you are 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water a day and not counting your caffienated beverages in that.
Of course, you can add small amounts of food with your drink, such as a piece of cheese or a few whole wheat crackers. But, sometimes just a tummy filled with a soothing beverage is enough to drive those cravings away. Make smart beverage choices and see if you can put the munchies to rest before you dive into a snack that will ruin your diet, and possibly your night.
The key to satisfying the midnight munchies in a healthier manner is to be prepared. Keep healthier foods on hand that are easy to grab and nibble on when the cravings hit. Rather than grabbing that deep fried, oil saturated, sugary, or sodium laden junk food, keep a few of these healthier choices handy so when the urge to snack hits (and it will!) you’ll have something to fend off the attack… in a healthier way. Snack happy!
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