Youre hungry. Dinners in the past and sleep is just ahead. What do you do?
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Making the wrong late-night snack choices can add to your weight and subtract from your sleep, and no one wants all that serious trouble to come from a momentary lapse, or two, in hunger weakness.
It works both ways. A healthy diet improves the quality and duration of your sleep. And adequate sleep improves the quality of your diet by curbing hunger hormones, explains registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD.
Here, our dietitians list go through the types of snacks to avoid when youre looking at options late in the day.
Having something to do while you watch TV is not a good reason for eating, says Zumpano. Youre only addressing your boredom.
Ideally, to maintain your waistline, its best to eat all your meals before 6 p.m., she notes.
If youre not truly hungry, a late-night snack is a waste of fuel at the end of the day, she says.
One of the worst offenders is cereal and milk. Thats because its hard to control how much you eat.
Cereal is loaded with carbs, especially if sweetened and lets be honest, it typically is, she says. Add 1cup of any type of cows milk, and you get 8 grams of protein plus 12 grams of carbohydrate.Using whole milk also gives you extra fat calories that you certainly dont need at the end of the day, she notes.
If you must have cereal, look for a brand thats very low in sugar and high in fiber, and measure out 1 cup, she suggests. Then pair it with an unsweetened milk alternative such as almond, soy, flax, hemp or coconut milk.
Limiting your night-time calorie intake is good for the waistline. But thats hard to do with easy-to-binge-on salty snacks like potato chips and dip or tortilla chips and queso.
These foods are not nutrient-dense. Theyre calorie-dense every little bite packs a ton of them, notes Zumpano.
Whats worse, she finds that salty snacks dont satisfy her cravings. Instead, they trigger my sweet tooth, so that I end up eating another (sweeter) snack!
Late-night snacks should focus on foods that calm your body and prepare you for sleep, says Zumpano.
Steer clear of anything sugary or containing caffeine or alcohol, she advises. It will stimulate your body. Cookies, candy bars and anything high in refined sugar will reduce your serotonin levels, making it harder for you to fall asleep, she notes.
Caffeine and alcohol disrupt sleep patterns, making it harder to fall asleep, stay asleep and enjoy the deeper stages of sleep.
Remember these tips the next time late-night cravings hit. Youll appreciate making healthier choices when you hit the pillow and the scale.