There’s nothing wrong with having a post-dinner, pre-bedtime snack, especially if you’re grazing (eating five or more times per day). Choosing the right snack choices can help you avoid tummy troubles, and some can even help you sleep better.
If you’ll be eating or drinking less than four hours before you go to bed, avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine, hot spices or too much sugar. These can elevate your metabolism, making it harder to fall asleep. In addition to these three troublemakers, stay away from greasy, heavy proteins that take longer to digest than many carbs and healthy fats. “BRAT” is an easy acronym to help you remember the types of mild foods you want to eat when you’re ill, or when you don’t want to be kept up all night. Think Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast.
Oatmeal is mild, filling and easily digestible. In addition to being a good late-night snack, it also provides benefits such as dietary fiber. Keep some natural oatmeal around, rather than the processed, flavored packets that contains lots of sugar. You can sweeten it with a bit of honey or raisins.
By itself or in a smoothie, a banana is a quick-digesting, nutritious, mild snack that fills you up without filling you out. Have a few slices on a piece of toast with some nut butter for a heartier nighttime snack.
Another favorite snack, popcorn is light, low in calories and satisfies your craving for something crunchy (and maybe a little salty). Avoid flavored popcorns that might be too spicy or include too many artificial colors, unhealthy fats and preservatives. It’s tough to control yourself around a big bowl of popcorn. Even though it’s only 100 calories or so, downing a whole bag of microwave popcorn close to bedtime can leave you feeling too full. Put half of your serving aside for later by sealing it in a plastic sandwich bag. Eat your half-serving slowly with a low-cal, low-sugar, healthy drink.
For an easy-to-digest evening snack, fill a wrap with your favorite veggies and add a piece of lean meat (like turkey or chicken breast or ham), and/or a sprinkle of cheese. Flatout flatbreads, for example, are low in calories compared to a single slice of whole grain bread (up to 150 calories per slice or more!), and come in regular or Protein UP! choices.
Nut Butter Toast
Isn’t it great when two mild-mannered foods pair up to create a favorite snack? Spread just a bit of creamy nut butter on a whole grain bread (you don’t have to toast it), and eat it in small bites, rather than gulping it down. The longer you take to eat your foods, the less likely you’ll be to start looking for a second helping.
Cookies and Milk
Looks like mom was right. A healthy, low-fat, low-sugar cookie choice with some milk (it doesn’t have to be low-fat) can help you top off your tummy before going to bed without keeping you up later. Drinking full-fat milk can decrease sugar cravings later.
Creamy, protein rich yogurt is more filling than sugary snacks, and also provides helpful probiotics that improve gut health and aid in digestion. Add just a few nuts for crunch.
Cheese is a good source of protein that isn’t as heavy as meats, fish and fowl. Combine some cheese slices or cubes with your favorite fruit or veggies, top some crackers with cheese, or have some cottage cheese with berries. String cheese is a good choice, and you don’t need to pair it with anything.
Hard Boiled Egg
The humble egg is one of nature’s best-kept secrets. It’s packed with protein, contains healthy fats, tastes great and the cholesterol it contains doesn’t contribute to heart disease as previously thought.