On days that we don’t get enough calories in our diet, we find ourselves sneaking off to the fridge late at night to get a last-minute fill before heading off to bed. After a long, hard and exhausting day, all we want to do is indulge in snacks that are high in fat, embarrassingly greasy, salty and sometimes a little spicy. While it might feel like it's worth it while you’re savoring every bite of that sinful treat, it's also important to remember how the nutritional content affects your health through the night and into the next day.
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Popcorn: Craving salty chips? Ditch 'em for a bowl of all-natural, fat-free popcorn. Not only is popcorn low in calories, but it is also loaded with fiber and whole grains — no guilt here! Plain popcorn can be boring and unfulfilling; Check here to see our list of recommended popcorn toppings to help make this late night snack more pleasurable!
If you want something more flavorful without an excessive amount of calories, try out Orville Redenbacher’s Pop Crunch Cheddar & Caramel Mix. Each bag has only 140 calories and five grams of fat, and its flavor combination of cheddar and caramel fulfills a sweet and savory late-night craving.
Cottage cheese: Craving ice cream? Skip it and make yourself a small bowl of cottage cheese. The slow-digesting protein found in cottage cheese will help you from getting hungry again in the middle of the night, and it also helps to control reflux for those who frequently wake up from heart burn. Dress up a bowl of this midnight snack with fresh berries, a handful of nuts and a dash of cinnamon to make something both satisfying and rewarding.
If cottage cheese isn’t giving you that cold and sweet satisfaction, try Healthy Choice Dark Fudge Swirl Greek Frozen Yogurt. This frozen treat will give you just enough sweetness with your Greek yogurt at only 100 calories and two grams of fat per serving.
Cherries: These sweet little bulbous fruits are naturally tart, sweet and contain melatonin — a chemical that helps control your body’s internal clock. According to an article in Cooking Light, a recent study found that “adults who drank two daily glasses of tart cherry juice slept 40 minutes longer on average and had up to a 60 percent increase in sleep efficiency.”
Almonds: Toss a handful of raw almonds together for a quick last-minute, protein-enriched snack. Almonds are rich source of sleep-supporting amino acid magnesium which is a natural muscle relaxer; it’s also filled with protein which helps you stay full throughout the night and helps to prevent you from sneaking back off the the kitchen for seconds and thirds.
Bananas: Bananas are packed with two powerful essential nighttime nutrients: potassium and magnesium. These nutrients help relax your muscles and can help you get a better night sleep. They’re also loaded with carbohydrates, “which have been shown to make you sleep by making tryptophan more readily available to the brain.” Try slicing one with a couple of almonds and you’ve got yourself a healthy fix.
Maybe you want something sweet to enhance the natural sugar in bananas. Try Dole’s Banana Dippers with Almonds. These frozen delights are a combination of potassium, natural sugar and dark chocolate goodness. 120 calories per treat is nothing to sweat about, so grab a box on your next trip to the grocery store.
Frozen fruit and steamed veggies: Putting together a small bowl of steamed veggies with light seasoning or a blended mix of fresh fruits will always be an acceptable snack. Try to avoid heavy vegetables and extra sugary fruits, and stick to ones that you have a greater calorie allowance with. Example: Toss a dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of crushed dark chocolate in a bowl of frozen blueberries and raspberries for a more filling and satisfying snack.
Our Light Chipotle Ranch recipe goes well with a small plate of freshly cut veggies. Click here to get our recipe!
>> Read more: Weight Loss Tips for Late Night Snackers