Smarter Late-Night Snacks by Toby Amidor in Healthy Tips, December 7, 2009
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With a jam-packed refrigerator and junk food lurking in every corner, late night snacking can really mess up your attempts at healthful eating. Here are some tips for those who like snacking after dark.
There are many myths surrounding evening eating — like “you shouldn’t eat after 8 p.m.” or “don’t eat before bed.” The truth is, if you don’t get in all your allotted calories throughout the day, an evening snack may be part of your healthy eating regimen. However, if you’re commonly snacking after a full day of eating (that is, three meals and several snacks), then you may just be adding in extra calories that can promote weight gain in the long run.
Healthy Snack Ideas
Before you head for the fridge, ask yourself if you’re really hungry. If you’re just in the habit of grabbing food out of boredom, reach for a glass of water or a hot cup of tea instead. If you’re truly hungry, then eat a healthy and filling snack (ranging from around 150 to 200 calories) such as these:
- Turkey roll ups: Roll deli-style turkey slices with low-fat cheese. Add some spiciness with a touch of salsa or Dijon mustard.
- Soup: A cup of warm soup can do wonders. Choose broth-based soups (i.e. chicken, minestrone or bean) and avoid the creamy ones.
- Cheese and crackers: 5 to 6 whole-grain crackers with 1 to 1.5 ounces of cheese
- 1/2 a sandwich: scrambled eggs and tomato or peanut butter and jelly
- Cottage cheese and fruit: 1/2 cup of cottage cheese topped with fresh fruit
- English muffin pizza: Top with tomato sauce and 2 tablespoons of shredded part-skim cheese
- Cereal and milk: 1 cup of a whole-grain cereal with low-fat or fat-free milk
- Snack bar: Check out some of our healthy picks
- Oatmeal: 1/2 cup of oatmeal is packed with fiber, which helps fill you up
Snacking for Less
We can’t ignore those times where we just grab food for the heck of it (it’s a bad habit, so recognizing that you’re doing it is the first step). If you’re finding it difficult to break the habit, at least be prepared by having some very low-calorie foods handy.
- Fresh fruit and veggies: Have them washed and ready to eat in an area that’s easily visible
- Sugar-free gelatin: They run about 10 calories per 1/2 cup. If you make a batch from scratch, add in fresh fruit for a more nutritious snack
- Sugar-free ice pops: If you’re looking for something cold, these run around 30 calories a piece (better than hundreds of calories from ice cream)
- Baked chips: Go for a low-calorie dip such as salsa and remember a handful is a serving (about 15 chips)
- Sugarless gum: Try breaking the snacking habit by chewing on some sugarless gum.
- Step away from the food: Redirecting your urge to eat (when you’re not really hungry) is another option. Take a warm bubble bath, read a good book, go for a walk outside or listen to your favorite music are always other options.