Healthy late-night snack alternatives and craving prevention

Healthy late-night snack alternatives and craving prevention

Late-night snacking, also called nighttime snacking, refers to eating snacks after dinner. It is a habit of snacking at, or even after, bedtime. If you’re eating late at night, you could just be bored or stressed. Craving salty snacks might indicate dehydration rather than a sign of an empty stomach. And if you’re eating late, you’re giving extra calories than what your body is asking for. However, it’s not the act of late-night snacking but the type of snack that can come back to bite you. It doesn’t help that we typically reach for easy-to-grab, high-calorie foods. 

There can be different reasons behind people who have a late-night snacking habit. However, regardless of the cause, the outcome is usually the same. It can lead to unwanted weight gain, derail quality sleep, cause diabetes, and lose track of how much you’ve eaten. The first step towards a healthier after-sunset snacking is to be mindful to not go over your calorie limit for the day. In addition, eating enough protein and fibre throughout the day can reduce the need to snack at night. More than just restricting late-night snacks, you need to examine what factors in your life are contributing to your poor eating habits. 

Common Eating Patterns

Knowing your eating pattern and altering it as per your health condition is mandatory. Unfortunately, many people in today’s world are unconscious eaters. They try to fuel their bodies unknowingly. Research reveals that this results in overweight conditions and modes of depression. 

The typical eating pattern involves the way you eat throughout the day. It includes every meal you intake right from the start of the day. Broadly, there are four ways of eating patterns. These are listed below:

Eating Unconsciously 

People who have psychological disorders or experience extreme stress levels are more prone to eating unconsciously. For example, when you are sad or upset for long periods, your happy hormone secretion is reduced, and the body craves more. Thus, you will end up eating food unconsciously to feel good. To prevent this eating, one should always practise mindful meditation. 

Emotional Outbursts Trigger Eating

Suppose you are an individual who craves food when you are pleased, sad, or angry. Then, you are an emotional eater who tends to eat more food unknowingly due to emotional mismanagement. It is okay to feel all sorts of emotions within you. But, disturbing your eating habits according to every emotion will badly affect your health. Next time when you feel overly elated or deeply heartbroken, try to stay away from unhealthy food. Relax your mind and let those emotions pass. 

Calorie Counting Eating Habits 

You might know that one person in your zone who is always busy counting calories from every dish served to them. Such people are always counting calories and trying to eat healthily. But, eventually, they lose track of their calorie count and end up eating more of it. 

Eating to Gain Energy

If you are a person who has control over your mind and eating habits, then you are way more healthy than most people on the planet. 

You are among the people who know that food is fuel and you need it in the required amounts only. 

Strategies to Avoid Late Night Snacking 

Studies reveal that late-night eating of junk and processed foods are bad for health. Some of the significant side effects of late-night eating include:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Increased levels of cholesterol 
  • Increased weight 
  • Lethargy 
  • Depression 
  • Insomnia
  • Hyperacidity
  • Acne breakouts
  • Menstrual irregularity

Here are a few tricks to reduce late-night snacking.

Maintain a Proper Sleep Routine 

Yes, being deprived of sleep can be your trigger to binge eat now and then. For instance, studies prove that the human body needs at least 6-7 hours of sound sleep. If you experience consistent episodes of sleep deprivation, you should notice that. Instead of spending hours scrolling your phone screen before sleeping, read a book or engage in other healthy habits. This way, you will fall asleep without exposing yourself to harmful radiation. If you sleep sufficiently, your body automatically relaxes and re-energizes and doesn’t feel the need to fuel itself again. 

Do Not Skip Your Meals 

There are dozens of other ways to lose weight rather than skipping meals! For example, if you start cutting your breakfast or other meals during the day, your body will send you signals to eat random things at midnight. Thus, in a way, you’ll end up snacking on foods unnecessarily. To avoid this, eat two or three full meals a day without fail. Then, once your hunger is satisfied, you won’t crave more snacks. 

Avoid the Influence

Often we don’t wish to eat a particular thing or aren’t craving it. But unfortunately, we end up eating some stuff due to peer pressure. It slowly becomes a habit and an addiction. Unnecessarily eating is an addiction, and you need to control it. Be mindful of what you are eating and whether you need it. Eat your food to gain energy, not become lethargic. 

Relax

Episodes of prolonged depression, stress, and anxiety may trigger eating disorders in many people. It happens because consuming junk food makes you feel as if you are happy. Remember that the type of food you eat is the type of energy you will receive. If you eat oily, processed, and unhealthy food, you will feel sluggish. On the contrary, eating fresh fruits and colourful vegetables will clean your aura. 

Have Enough Liquids and Make Protein Your Best Friend

Drinking eight glasses of water every day is a good habit. But, eating fruits rich in water content is more beneficial. Also, eating a good amount of protein every day will help eliminate the cravings for eating late at night. Fruits like watermelon are helpful to stay hydrated and feel satiated. 

Be Physically Active 

One hour of exercise is only 4% of your day. If you love any physical activity, be it anything like dancing, swimming, running, etc. Please do it for 1 hour every day. It will aid in weight loss and self-control to regulate unhealthy eating habits. In addition, training your core and abs will leave you with a feeling to avoid eating those extra carbs. 

Stay Hydrated 

Do not confuse thirst with hunger! Often you might require water and not food. Stay hydrated enough throughout the day. If you ever feel the need to eat late-night snacks, try avoiding it by drinking a glass of water. 

Nutritious Late Night Snacks

There will be instances when you crave food during late hours. When you can’t control your hunger, your mind will automatically redirect you to an unhealthy calorie-rich source. But, it would be best if you manage your urge to feed on junk food. Below are some healthy and tasty alternatives worth trying for your late-night cravings! 

Banana-Dark Chocolate Smoothie

Banana aids in neutralising acidity and improves digestion. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, helps to induce sound sleep. 

Servings: 1

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • Frozen banana: 1 cup 
  • Milk: 1 cup 
  • Dark chocolate: 1 
  • Honey/ Maple syrup: 2 tsp
  • Ice

Method of Preparation

  • Dice all the ingredients in a blender and mix them nicely. 
  • Once mixed, serve it in a bowl, and your banana dark chocolate smoothie is ready. 

Roasted Peanuts

Servings: 1

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Peanuts: 1 cup
  • Salt: A pinch
  • Chilli powder: 1 tsp 
  • Cayenne pepper: ½ tsp 
  • Cumin powder: ½ tsp 
  • Olive oil: 1 tbsp 

Method of Preparation

  • Toss in 1 cup of peanuts in a pan. Roast peanuts on a medium-high flame till peanuts are dark brown to black.  
  • Turn off the flame once the peanuts turn aromatic and dark brown.  
  • Allow the peanuts to cool down a bit. Add 1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp chilli powder, a pinch of salt, ½ tsp cumin powder, and ½ tsp cayenne pepper in a separate bowl. Mix all the spices. 
  • Finally, add the roasted peanuts to the spice mix. Roasted peanuts are ready to serve! 

Banana Brownie

Servings: 1

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Banana: 1 
  • Dark chocolate: 1
  • Oats: 1 cup 
  • Maple syrup: 2 tsp 
  • Peanut butter: 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

  • Blend out 1 cup of oats in a blender. Your oats powder will be ready. 
  • Mash 1 banana using a fork or a whisk. To this, add the oats powder and give it a nice mix. 
  • Next, add 1 tsp of peanut butter. If you wish for more sweetness, you can 2 tsp of maple syrup. 
  • Spread the brownie mix in a tin or microwave-safe container lined with parchment paper. 
  • Add in the brownie mix. Then, top it off with dark chocolate chunks or toppings of your choice. 
  • Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes. Viola! Baking never felt so healthy! 

Protein Balls 

Servings: 1 

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • Dates: 1 cup
  • Almonds: 1 cup 
  • Cashew Nuts: 1 cup 
  • Maple syrup: 1 tsp (optional)

Method of Preparation

  • In a pan, add 1 cup of water. Add the dates into it and allow the dates to simmer for 2 minutes. (NOTE: The dates should be seedless.)
  • Remove the dates and add them to a blender. Then add chopped almonds and cashew nuts to it. For an extra sweet taste, add 1 tsp of maple syrup. 
  • Blend all the dry fruits into a nice mix. 
  • Roll out the balls and relish protein balls! 

Boiled Chickpea Avocado Toast

Servings: 1 

Preparation time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients

  • Chickpea: 1 cup 
  • Avocado: 1 
  • Brown bread: 4 slices 
  • Chilli powder: 1 tsp 
  • Salt: 1 tsp 
  • Olive oil: 1 tbsp
  • Onions: 1 cup (chopped) 
  • Green onions: ¼ cup (chopped)

Method of Preparation

  • Boil one cup of chickpeas in a cooker or a pan. Cool them and mash them using a whisk. 
  • Add one mashed avocado to it. 
  • Add 1 cup chopped onions and ¼ cup chopped green onions to it. 
  • Add chilli powder, salt, and olive oil to these ingredients. Mix them all nicely. 
  • Take four slices of brown bread and cut them into triangular sections. 
  • Add the chickpea avocado mix to the slices of bread. 
  • Toast the bread slices in a sandwich maker or on a pan.

Conclusion

There are many reasons for nighttime snacking, including emotional outbursts, stress, medical conditions, and hunger. Unfortunately, this nighttime snacking habit is contributing to excess calorie intake. And you are going to be at risk of putting on more pounds. Rather than healthy and nutritious food, people who snack at night are likely to choose carbs or high-calorie snacks. Timing, food quality, and quantity of food all affect whether late-night snacking can work for or against you. However, in unavoidable midnight cravings, you can switch to healthier alternatives. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is it bad to snack late at night?

A. You should avoid late-night snacking to prevent disorders like hyperacidity, insomnia, indigestion, and mental disturbances. In addition, late-night snacking can disturb your body’s sleep cycle and leads to improper functioning of the digestive system. However, It all depends on what type of foods you eat as a late-night snack. 

Q. What causes late-night snacking?

A. There are several reasons for craving food at late hours. However, skipping meals during the day, anxiety, stress, hormonal imbalances, menstrual disturbances, hypertension, and low blood sugar levels are the most prevalent causes of late-night snacking. 

Q. Is snacking at night good?

A. Late-night snacking may be good at times if you switch to healthier alternatives. If you eat fruits, less processed foods, or maybe drink a cup of warm milk. Then, it will aid in sound sleep. Also, eating these healthy items will not make you weigh any heavier. However, choosing carbs and calorie-dense snacks do more harm than good. 

Q. Is it bad to eat at 11 pm?

A. There should be a window of a minimum of 3 hours between your dinner and sleep. Thus, consuming meals at late hours is not suitable for health and leads to weight gain. Therefore, one must try to have dinner before 8 pm. 

Q. What should I eat at night to burn fat?

A. Try to eat a lighter meal at night, which is easy to digest and full of fibre. Oatmeal, milk, greek yoghurt, fruits, salads, lemonade, and green tea are the best alternatives to burning fat when you are asleep. 

Q. How do I stop nighttime bingeing?

A. Set a proper sleep schedule and dinner time. Don’t skip your meals, and try not to waste your time unnecessarily. Practice meditation and gratitude journaling. Create a list of things you need to do the other day and sleep calmly. Planning your caloric intake is one of the best plans for preventing late-night overeating.

Q. Does eating at night make you fat?

A. Yes, it does increase the chances of fat accumulation. If you eat a heavy meal right before sleep, you invite those extra fat pounds. Most people tend to eat foods high in calories and little or nowhere next to nutritious. Eating late at night will make you sluggish and obese. 

Q. How do I stop midnight hunger?

A. Try to figure out the reasons why you might be feeling hungry. Don’t confuse thirst with hunger. For example, avoid using electronic devices at night as they make you feel tired and hungry. Instead, drink chamomile tea before sleeping as it induces sleep. 

Q. What time is the midnight snack?

A. Late-night snack starts from 11 pm onwards. Therefore, anything you eat at 11 pm and afterwards is considered a late-night snack. Or eating after dinner or during bedtime comes under late-night snacking. 

Q. Does eating late cause belly fat?

A. Yes, eating after bedtime or late-night snacking will add more fat around your belly region. Ultimately, it will make you obese and sedentary. In addition, eating late causes gastrointestinal problems and leads to weight gain. 

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