Healthy Eating: A midnight snack to remember

Find out which foods are best to avoid before going to bed and which will do slightly less damage.

By KATHRYN RUBIN
August 29, 2012 15:31
4 minute read.
Snack

Bamba. (photo credit: Wikicommons)

We all do it, one time or another we give in, there is no stopping it … all of us, once in a while, not matter how healthy we claim to be,eat a late night snack.

You’ve probably heard the rumor that it’s bad to eat after 8p.m. While this rule doesn’t exactly hold true, eating late at night is definitely not great for you. Consuming a few hundred calories right before going to bed isn’t the best decision. However, late night snacking has gotten a bad rep more so because of the foods that we choose to consume at the midnight hour rather than the time. When tired and just want to fall into bed, we rarely want to put much thought into what we stuff in our mouths.

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Now we all know that pizza, burgers andshwarma are not the best things to chow down on late at night, but are greasy and fatty foods the only ones to avoid?  Here are four foods that should be limited and even nixed on your late night menu.

Late night breakfast – cereal

Wikicommons

Technically speaking chocolate covered, maple syrup-drenched pancakes or French toast would win the worst late night breakfast award; however, most breakfast cereals would take a close second. Once thought of as only a breakfast food, nowadays most of us eat cereal anytime during the day, including late at night.

While cereal is relatively low in calories compared to other midnight snacks and is far better for you then let’s say a slice of pizza or a hot dog, it is far from “good for you.”Chocked full of carbs, including refined sugar, most breakfast cereals, will send your blood glucose levels soaring. The end result being that you are kept wide awake. If you are in the mood for a late night breakfast, instead pour yourself a bowl of Fiber One – with 0 grams of sugar and loaded with fiber, this cereal will fill you but not keep you up.

Midnight fiesta - spicy foods

Pepper jam (Laura Frankel)

Chocked full of healthy nutrients, spicy foods such as cayenne pepper are great for you… during the day that is. Spicy foods can cause you to toss and turn all night, as their acidity may irritate your stomach causing indigestion and even heartburn. What’s more, spicy foods can actually cause you to wake up as they send an adrenaline rush to your brain.

Nightly sweet tooth - chocolate ice cream

Karen Cohen

We all have sweet cravings now and again, and there is nothing like finishing off a warm summer day by indulging in your favorite ice cream. While this might satisfy your sweet tooth, sugar is one of the worst things you can put in your body right before bedtime.

We have all heard that it’s better to consume more calories during the day than at night, and the same goes for those sugar calories. Sugar is quick burning energy, but when you go straight to bed your body has nothing to do with it, and therefore stores it as fat. 

All desserts have massive amounts of sugar, so what’s so special about chocolate ice cream? One word: caffeine. In addition to energetic sugar, chocolate ice cream contains that little ingredient we often use to help keep us awake. While chocolate does not contain as much caffeine as a latte or cappuccino, it can contains enough to stop you from falling asleep right away.

If you want to go the lactose route, try cottage cheese instead. One of the best foods to chow down on after hitting the gym, cottage cheese is a great snack before hitting the sack. Low in carbs and high in protein, cottage cheese will fill you up without causing your blood sugar to spike.

Savory nocturnal treats

Courtesy

Whether just home from a party or lounging around watching TV, late night snack foods such as chips, pretzels and popcorn can be extremely addictive.

However, that’s not all they are. These snack foods are also packed with salt.

While salty foods are not good for you at any point during the day, they become abundantly worse after sundown. Why? Foods high in salt can cause you to retain water, meaning that you will feel bloated the next morning.

While this is concern that probably affects more women, too much sodium in any diet is extremely unhealthy and has been connected with various diseases. So why not lend your body a helping hand and trim off a few mega grams by cutting out those late night chips and dips?


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