Good and bad evening snacks. What to choose not to lose?
It is generally a time when we relax, and it is often easy to find yourself nibbling on not-so-healthy foods whilst sitting in front of the television. If done often, it can clearly lead to weight gain. Before you get yourself an evening snack, it is important to consider:
- Are you really hungry?
- Are you simply eating absentmindedly as a way to relax or indulge after a hard day?
- Can you manage to fast until breakfast time, and avoid those extra calories you don’t need?
The bad habits
Eating mindlessly – if you are eating or nibbling while watching TV, chances are you are not paying attention to portion sizes and could be consuming more calories than anticipated.
Eating right out of the bag / box – grabbing handfuls of snacks out of the box/bag can lead to eating more than you think because you do not have visual control over the quantity of food you have already consumed. Snacks that come out of bags are typically high in sugar, fat and salt, providing little to none nutritional value, so they are clearly not the best option for a good night’s sleep. On top of that, they can easily cause weight gain without contributing anything to your health.
High sugar / high fat snacks – sweet or salty snacks seem to be the go-to late night snacks, mostly because of convenience and their comfort food” quality, however, these are usually very high in calories, fat, and sugar.
Caffeine - We all know caffeine is a stimulant, which has the effect of waking us up. Therefore it makes sense to avoid this before bed. For some people, a coffee a couple of hours before sleeping makes no difference to their quality of sleep, whilst for others, anything after lunchtime will lead to a rough night.
Alcohol – Some people feel that a glass of wine before bed is the perfect way to get a good night’s sleep, however, studies show that while the initial effect of alcohol may be to put us to sleep, it generally disrupts sleep later on in the night. This means we may wake feeling un-rested and sleep-deprived. Alcohol also contains empty calories that provide very little nutritional value, and certainly will not fill you up.
Large, heavy meals - this is a personal thing, but many people find a heavy meal too close to bedtime can disrupt sleep. Meals that are high in fat should also be avoided, as these are likely to promote acid reflux. For this reason, as well as for weight management, bedtime snacks should be low in fat and small.
The good options
- A banana
- Whole grain cereal (use low fat milk)
- Whole grain crackers (can also add a thin spread of peanut butter)
- A hardboiled egg
- A couple of slices of wholegrain toast with a spread of almond butter or a thin slice of low fat cheese
- Cottage cheese or low fat yogurt mixed with fruit – cherries are thought to be particularly good for a restful night as they are naturally high in melatonin, a sleep-inducing chemical
- A glass of low fat milk
- Plain popcorn
- Vegetable sticks with yogurt dips
- A cup of hot chocolate
- A nutritious sandwich
Which one looks good? Do you have your own ideas for healthy snacks? Let us know and share your suggestions in the comments below.
And for more information about healthy nutrition contact our Nutrition Specialist or simply book your complimetary consultation.
Regional Nutrition Manager
Holmes Place Switzerland