Smarter Late-Night Snacks

by in Healthy Tips, December 7, 2009

pizza snacks
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.

The Myth
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.
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Comments (141)

  1. I like the idea of having real food as a snack. So often, the temptation is to reach for something quick and processed. But even the best of those are only so fulling and you'll likely be having a real meal soon after, whereas snacking on real food brings nutrients and filling calories.

  2. Von says:

    I am diabetic… I need to eat something every 2 hours, so I eat right up to bedtime and then first thing when I wake up(sometimes even during the night I eat a little something). Your list is VERY helpful. I love Bran buds in Buttermilk, and I often have sugar free fat free Yogurt with my cranberry salsa: Throw into a food processor > 1 bag raw cranberries, 1 whole (unpeeled) orange, 1 or 2 apples (core & all), and a little stevia sweetener. Chop it all up, pour into a bowl and add chopped walnuts. Keep in a jar in the fridge. Great with yogurt or cottage cheese, on whole grain toast, on peanut buttered toast, with meat, in sugar free jello, lots of etcs.

    • Irene says:

      If you are a diabetic, you'll love Walden Farms Calorie Free products.
      I am currently publishing a cookbook wth thes products. They are all completely sugar free and no fat, they're made from water.
      At night you can make an egg cream, using Waldens chocolate syrup, club soda and fat free milk it is great. You can go on Walden Farms website and see all the products.

    • ammy james says:

      Awesome piece of writing, expression of your ideas are really worthwhile chance for the readers to gain and share some useful information.

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  3. pilar palisoc says:

    I always think before I grab something, I always think of small portion or portion control, I always think I will eat again. I am 5'0 ft a 120 lbs I have this weight for the last 10 months, so I think it is working for me.

  4. gray la gran says:

    one of my favorite snacks is seedless red grapes and plain yogurt (together).

  5. Diana says:

    Von,

    How long can you keep the cranberry salsa in the refrigerator? Also, how much do you use for a serving?

  6. MyMomCallsMePeanut says:

    To "gray la gran": Me too! :-)

    I also go for a warm cup of Ovaltine or a few Prunes with small palmful of Bittersweet Chocolate Morsels and Almonds (natural or roasted & lightly salted).

  7. CDK says:

    I make my own healthy hot chocolate when I need a chocolate fix… mix 1 tbl Hershey's cocoa powder with 1 package Splenda. Add 8 oz hot skim milk and a dash of vanilla extract. Yummy!

  8. mate tee says:

    Thanks for sharing such delicious snacks recipe here. I cant wait to eat so I make it today. Enjoyed the site. I will keep visiting this site very often.

  9. barbara says:

    I love all these ideas, can't wait to feel I need a snack especially the hot chocolate idea, sounds great. Anyone have a good granola recipe for a diabetic that can be made and stored? Barbara

    • Jo Jo says:

      It's not exactly "granola", but I love this on yogurt. I make a lot in a zip loc bag and store it in the firdge. Equal parts Grape Nuts cereal, Quick Oats (uncooked), handfull of almond slivers and/or walnuts or pecans (whatever nut you like).

  10. Sammyling says:

    I am so glad for the hot chocolate recipe…. I was just saying earlier tonight that I would love some, its so cold! THANKS!

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