If you are struggling to watch your waistline during the holiday season, then there's nothing worse than midnight munchies! It seems like wherever we look we are warned away from indulging in a little pre-bedtime snack to mollify our rumbling stomachs. In the past, experts have preached the dangers of eating after dinner, with concerns ranging from insomnia to packing on the pounds. Lucky for us, recent research has revealed that not all food is dangerous to the waistline after 7 p.m.! Check out these tasty snacks for a healthy way to get rid of those after-hours cravings!
>> Read more: Weight Loss Tips for Late Night Snackers
Put those sleeves of leftover Girl Scout cookies back in the cupboard, because the number one thing to remember while preparing your bedtime snack is that it needs to be healthy. Most of our midnight cravings tend to be on the sweeter side, and any extra sugar is going to trigger an increase in your blood sugar levels and cause insomnia. What you eat at night is just as important as what you eat during the day. You want your snack to contribute to your goals of weight loss or weight management, so it's best to leave those treats tucked away until you've earned a little indulgence!
The best late-night snacks combine three elements — protein, complex carbohydrates, and a little bit of calcium. Tryptophan, which is an amino acid that promotes the release of serotonin, greatly contributes to the sleep process. By combining foods rich in tryptophan with a small serving of complex carbohydrates to aid in functionality, our bodies are better equipped to settle in for a solid night's sleep.
Some of the best foods to munch on before bed are: (via Lifescript)
- Lowfat milk or cheese
- Seafood, meat or poultry
- Whole grains such as a bowl of cereal with skim milk
- Scrambled eggs
- A peanut butter sandwich
- Yogurt with granola sprinkled on top
- A sliced apple with one ounce of cheese
- Protein shake or smoothie (especially if you're working to gain more muscle!)
If you are really watching your weight, and want to keep your late-night snack under 200 calories, give these tasty choices a try: (via Good Housekeeping)
Half a cup of cottage cheese with five strawberries
1 hard-boiled egg with a slice of whole wheat toast
- 1 serving of cherries
A handful of almonds
A handful of pretzel sticks
- Herbal tea
4 slices of turkey with honey mustard, wrapped in lettuce leaves
Half a mini bagel with one ounce of smoked salmon
>> Read more: 20 Tasty Snacks Under 200 Calories
Other than sugary foods, that are a couple things that we want you to watch out for. Any kind of spicy foods can cause heart burn and indigestion, so steer clear of your favorite spicy recipes for now! Also, alcohol and caffeine can lead to repeated awakenings during the night. If you need a cup of joe, stick to decaf! And while we always, always, always encourage you to stay hydrated, 8 p.m. is not the time to start chugging away! Drinking too much fluid before bedtime will have you running to the bathroom throughout the night.
These delicious midnight treats will get you back on schedule to stay fit and healthy this holiday season. Just remember the importance of portion control as you prepare your snacks, and you will have no trouble settling into a guilt-free night of deep sleep! For more ideas on healthy snacks, click here.