Unhealthy Late-Night Snacks You Must Avoid

a woman is holding a bowl of junk food and is making an action of keeping it away from herself

Late Night Snacks 

There are several reasons people eat after dinner, either because of boredom, stress, cravings or physical hunger. But, there's a lot of confusion about if you should eat after dinner or not.

If you feel hungry at night, you should eat something. Eating at night will not slow down your metabolism and if you do smart snacking, you won't gain weight either. Do a check of what you've eaten the whole day and look for what you've missed. Mostly, it's going to be fruits, vegetables or dairy. If that's the case, grab in that extra fibre and calcium.

5 Best Late-Night Snacks

  1. String Cheese

A part-skim mozzarella cheese stick is a good late-night snack. It consists of around 100 calories and 7 grams of protein. Protein is a vital factor for any late-night snack because it keeps you fuller.

A mini cheese board can make you feel like you are getting a pretty substantial snack.

  1. Nuts

Walnuts are an amazing and yummy late-night snack as they naturally contain melatonin, a compound that helps with healthy sleep.

Pistachios are full of melatonin too, which may help with better sleep. And they also contain fibre and protein to help keep you fuller for longer. 

  1. Greek Yoghurt with Fruit

Greek yoghurt contains gut-friendly probiotics and protein to keep you full and also stabilize blood sugar. Berries are a great option to be added to the yoghurt as they are high in fibre.

  1. Popcorn

If you have a salty, crunchy craving after dinner, go for popcorn. "Popcorn, being a high-fibre snack, keeps you feeling full till the morning. Just be cautious with what you flavour it with—lay off large amounts of butter and salt, sprinkle with heart-healthy fats like olive oil, or any fresh herbs of your choice.

  1. Whole-Wheat Toast with Peanut Butter

Whole-wheat toast and whole-grain crackers contain complex carbohydrates, which slow down the spike of blood sugar. Pair them with peanut butter, a good source of protein and healthy fat, and you'll be full until the morning. Peanut butter contains healthy fats that increase serotonin levels which is a feel-good mood hormone that may help you relax fully.

5 Worst Late-Night Snacks

  1. Pizza

The acidic sauce and high-fat cheese from which pizza is made may cause you to wake up with a stomachache. Most pizza options provide significant fat and calorie amounts, which may contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess at snack time. Fat is digested slowly, so high-fat foods can lead to acid reflux, which is aggravated if you lie down shortly after eating. The pizza crust is also high in refined carbohydrates, which impair healthy blood sugar metabolism.

  1. Sugary Cereals

There are definitely nighttime cereal eaters, because what's not to love about cereal? Well, for one, the sugar. Eating cereal consisting of high amounts of sugar right before bed can cause a spike in your blood sugar and increase insulin levels, causing you to wake up in between your sleep feeling hungry. Cereal can be a suitable snack prior to bedtime but choose high-fibre, lower-sugar options. A good rule of thumb is to choose one where the fibre plus the protein is more than the sugar.

  1. Chips

The number of calories present in 3 cups of popcorn is the same as in 12 chips. But who will stop at just 12 chips? Chips are one of the worst offenders at night because they contain negligible nutrients: no fibre and no protein, with some fat from the oil. Otherwise, they have mostly refined carbs, which aren't good for you. Swap them with popcorn or whole-grain crackers instead.

  1. Candy

It's very common to crave something sweet after dinner. If you're not having balanced meals throughout the day, it's no surprise that your body wants sugar at night as it's the quickest form of energy. Satisfy your craving in a healthier approach by getting rid of the candy and selecting fruit or dark chocolate instead. Candy is only added sugars with negligible to no nutritional value. An ounce of dark chocolate, on the other hand, has 15% of the recommended Daily Value of magnesium, a mineral associated with improved sleep.

  1. Spicy Food

Eating spicy foods before bedtime can cause an increase in your heart rate, making it more difficult to fall asleep. "It can also increase the risk for acid reflux and upset stomach the whole night." Heartburn and gas won't let you have an optimal sleep, so avoid anything which makes you feel any of these. And if dinner is spicy, have it on the earlier side so your food can digest properly before you hit the bed.

Take Away

It's completely fine to eat after dinner but opt for foods with fibre, protein and healthy fat instead of going for sugary, junk food, refined foods, and greasy foods. If you're trying to shed some weight or manage diabetes, for example, take inventory of your late-night snacks to know if they could be pushing you over your calorie or carb limit for the day, avoid processed foods that are the worst foods and not letting you reach your desired goals.