5 Tips to Make Late-Night Snacking Healthy
A hectic lifestyle often prevents you from eating on a schedule or at a designated time every night. You work late, run your kids to soccer and then head to the gym. That lifestyle can lead to late-night snacking and other bad habits.
Rebecca Jilek, MPH, RD, LD, CDE, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at St. Elizabeth Physicians has some tips on how you can still indulge in a late-night snack in a healthy way.
- Stop eating three hours before bedtime. No matter what time you head to bed, you should refrain from eating 2-3 hours before you hit the pillow. Rebecca says, “It takes three hours to digest a 600-calorie meal. The calories you don’t burn off before going to sleep are stored away as fat.”
- Choose high-protein and high-fiber snacks. When you need a snack at night, reach for protein. Protein stays with your body longer. You can add a carbohydrate to protein, but always choose high protein, high fiber when snacking at night. Good choices include low-fat meat, fruits, vegetables and yogurt.
- Avoid high-calorie, high-carbohydrate snacks. When you are catching up on your favorite television shows at night, the commercials can sometimes sway us to reach for chips or ice cream. Rebecca warns, “Late-night snacks can easily ruin a diet. Avoid pastries, chips, sweets and ice cream that are high in calories and low in nutrition.”
- Prepare and pre-portion snacks. If you know snacking is a regular part of your diet, be prepared. Rebecca says, “By preparing snacks ahead of time, it takes the guesswork out of your hunger. You can just grab it, and you know it won’t destroy your diet.”
- Don’t skip meals. If you allow yourself to get very hungry and skip major meals, you are more likely to overindulge in nighttime snacks. Rebecca says, “If you are busy all day and you allow too much time between lunch and dinner or skip dinner altogether, you will overeat. Your body will change calories it doesn’t need into triglycerides, which increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.”
Overall, snacking can help you from overindulging in a high-calorie meal. Snacking can be healthy — just make the right choices.
The St. Elizabeth Weight Management Center offers group classes as part of our Weight Management program. If you are interested in learning more about the Weight Management program at St. Elizabeth, please call (859) 212-GOAL (4625).