"Dining out isn't limited to day light hours and dinner time. There's a world of choices available around the clock for hungry folks from 24 hour coffee shops and diners to restaurants catering to late-night cravings for Chinese. Now, you may have been warned against indulging your end of the day hunger pangs and rightfully so, if those after-hours calories put you over the top of your daily caloric budget. But, when those midnight munchies strike, you often can't help yourself. So here are some suggestions for midnight snacks which can actually be good for you.
Maybe You're Just Thirsty
Before you hit the late night drive-thru, make sure that hunger is really what's fueling your mania to munch. Dehydration is often mistaken for hunger. So, try drinking at least two cups of water before diving into a mid-night snack. Afterwards, you may be able to return to bed completely satisfied without eating a thing.
Late Night Sweet Tooth
If the light of the moon sends you searching for all-things-sweet, beware of ice cream and chocolate brownie cake temptations. In fact, just say "No" to chocolate because it contains caffeine which can disrupt sleep when you finally do get to bed. And the high fat content in desserts such as premium ice creams can cause indigestion when you go horizontal. So, opt for non fat yogurts if you want something cool and creamy. Or tame your bedtime sugar craving with dried fruit such as a few naturally sweet prunes which contain fiber, potassium and magnesium- a combination of nutrients that will gently aid your digestive health overnight.
Sometimes all you need is a small snack to get your through the night. And a handful of crunchy roasted nuts such as almonds offer some big nutrition rewards. This nutty snack is full of magnesium and B vitamins, both which help promote serotonin production in the brain to relax the body and mind. Not only will you cut stress, but you won't stress over the calories. Twenty-two whole almonds only equals about 100 calories.
Whether you cruise into a convenience store on your way home to quench your thirst or need something to wash down a midnight cookie snack (choose oatmeal not chocolate chip) a simple glass of non-fat milk is not only nostalgic at bedtime it's nutritious.
A glass of milk can help you sleep better because of the calcium content -- which relaxes muscles -- and increases the amount of tryptophan in the blood, which helps promote sleepiness. Avoid chocolate milk which contains some caffeine.
Certain foods are really bad choices late at night. And it's not just the excess calories. Anything high in sugar and caffeine can keep you awake when you finally do want to sleep. And while that after-hours Chinese place sounds like fun; this is not the time for deep fried or stir fried entrees or any other high fat splurges like big burgers or double cheese pizzas. They may meet your need for midnight munchies but can cause some serious late night indigestion. Super spicy foods can cause the problem, too. If you really are hungry, have a turkey (contains tryptophan) sandwich on whole wheat bread with a glass of non-fat milk. You'll satisfy your stomach rumblings, get a good night's sleep and improve your chances at being gung-ho about taking that good for you walk in the morning.