“So, you’re not supposed to eat after a certain time of night, right?”
I get asked this ALL. THE. TIME. And my answer is always the same... “It depends.”
First of all, if you know me and my nutrition philosophy, you know I don’t think there really is a “supposed to” when it comes to nutrition and, also, that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. However, the answer to this question can depend on what you’ve been eating the rest of the day.
For instance, are you snacking because you’ve had balanced meals/snacks throughout the day and want something to hold you over through the night? Do you have a health condition, such as diabetes, which would make bedtime snacking potentially very important? Or did you skip meals all day and are now starving and just want to cram some junk food down to fill the void from the lack of nutrients all day? Or are you emotionally eating? Or maybe something I haven’t listed here, but the point is.. there are a lot of things that can contribute to whether snacking at bedtime is a good or not so necessary idea, but I would always redirect someone back to mindful eating. Ask yourself if you’re eating because your body is need of some fuel or are you eating because of boredom, stress, etc.?
All that being said… bedtime snacking CAN be beneficial and even lead to a better night's sleep! HOORAY (that’s what you wanted to hear, right?)! Let me tell you how...
The first thing is… you want to make sure your snacking is part of a balanced day. Meaning you’ve been eating nutritious, balanced meals/snacks throughout the day and haven’t been over doing it. The second thing is, making sure the snack is balanced and nutritious itself. So, probably not ice cream or chips (every now and then.. yes, of course indulge because balance is important, but not on the reg). When I say “balanced” snack I mean a snack composed of a variety of macronutrients (protein, healthy fat/complex carbs). This is important because a balanced snack will slow digestion, keeping you satisfied longer, offer more nutrition and regulate blood sugars better throughout the night which can help you sleep better throughout the night, too... wink, wink.
Here are some ideas for healthy snacking:
-Apple and almond butter
-Grain free crackers or veggies and hummus
-Gran free chips and guac/salsa/bean dip
-Greek yogurt with fruit and grain-free granola
-1/2 a sandwich
-Certain health bars
-Drink Sleepyhead hot bevs along with one of these tasty snacks to help you wind down and get a good night’s rest
-Handful of mixed nuts
MS, RDN, LDN