Occasional late night snacks are not usually an issue if someone chooses healthy foods. However, if this becomes a regular habit and people snack on unsuitable foods, it could lead to weight gain or reflux symptoms.
With this in mind, there are a few quick and easy snacks that people can prepare if they are hungry at night. This can include a variety of fruits and nuts, while certain foods may also contain compounds that help a person sleep better.
This article suggests why people may snack at night, along with the associated health implications. It also explores a range of healthier snacks to choose from and provides tips that may help people avoid frequent snacking in the evenings.
There are various reasons why people may snack at night. If someone does this occasionally, it may not be an issue. However, if late night snacking becomes a habit, it could indicate an underlying disorder or result in potential health consequences.
People may eat later at night due to boredom or emotional eating. Some
According to a
People with NES consume excessive food after dinnertime or when they wake from sleep. They may also eat less food in the mornings, frequently have depressed moods, and have difficulty sleeping.
A study in the
The authors suggest a potential reason for this is the decreased thermic effect of food after the onset of melatonin, which refers to a lower metabolic rate and use of energy later at night.
For people who experience acid reflux or have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), eating late at night could exacerbate symptoms. Experts advise that someone with GERD should avoid eating for
Breakfast implies “breaking a fast.” According to
People should aim to eat a balanced diet throughout the day, so they are not hungry after dinner.
Eating a diet containing
Blood glucose dysregulation may negatively affect someone’s mood and cause them to crave more food. Eating high GI foods or too many calories before bed could also cause a person to gain weight.
Some foods contain compounds, such as tryptophan and melatonin, that can help someone sleep.
The following are healthy foods that someone could snack on if they are hungry in the evening. However, it is important to note that late night snacking may lead to weight gain.
People may wish to consider consulting with a health practitioner if they find they frequently crave a substantial amount of food at night.
In a small
Grocery stores sell tart or sour cherries, which are often in frozen form. A person could try eating them with natural yogurt, which also contains tryptophan, to help with sleep. People can also buy Montmorency tart cherry juice from retailers.
Turkey is a good source of the amino acid tryptophan, with light turkey meat containing higher amounts of the substance than darker turkey meat.
According to a
Oats are a
Oats are also a healthy whole food containing vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, if a person wishes to maintain a moderate weight, they should have a smaller portion of oats and avoid eating them regularly before bed, as this could lead to weight gain. A 40 gram (g) portion of oats contains roughly
People can also try sprinkling cinnamon on their oatmeal. According to
However, people with liver conditions or taking medications, such as warfarin, wish to speak with their doctor before consuming cinnamon.
Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium. In addition to being vital for bone health,
Yogurt is rich in protein, which can help a person feel fuller. In particular, consuming
If choosing this food as a snack, it is advisable to opt for plain varieties. A person can flavor it with unsweetened fruits such as berries.
According to the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), eating 1.5 ounces of nuts daily as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Unsalted and unflavored nuts are the healthiest, and people can try the following types:
- Brazil nuts
- macadamia nuts
Although technically a legume, peanuts are also a good source of tryptophan. As carbohydrates help the body absorb tryptophan, a person can try a slice of toast with peanut butter as an evening snack.
According to a
A person could try a boiled egg with two oatcakes as a healthy evening snack. Alternatively, they could make some egg and vegetable muffins to keep in the freezer when they need an evening snack.
There are additional hints to reduce lat night snacking, including:
- Balanced meals: If someone eats regular balanced meals throughout the day, they may avoid snacking in the evening. Eating protein, fiber, and healthy fats as part of an evening meal can help individuals feel satisfied until breakfast.
- Winding down: Having a regular wind-down bedtime routine may also ease someone into sleep and help avoid snacking.
- Reducing stress: Strategies to reduce stress, such as mindfulness and meditation, may also help overcome emotional eating. In addition, individuals could try seeing a therapist or counselor for help with getting to sleep.
- Exercise: Performing regular exercise and activity could help balance hunger hormones and metabolism. IT may also help someone sleep better or manage their stress.
Late night snacking is usually not an issue if someone occasionally consumes healthy foods. However, regular and excessive late night snacking on less healthy foods could lead to weight gain or exacerbated reflux symptoms.
Healthy foods, such as eggs, turkey, and nuts, may be suitable snacks and could help someone sleep. Eating regular balanced meals throughout the day, exercising, and having a relaxing evening routine may help someone avoid late night snacking.