By Mitchelle Uzorka
You’ve finished your nighttime routine, started to wind down, and climbed into bed only for your stomach to start growling unforgivingly — we’ve all been there.
We’re often faced with the dilemma of wondering if it’s worth getting up to eat, and if so, what healthy late-night snacks are on hand that would satisfy those cravings and help you sleep.
Fortunately, if you’re truly hungry, a small, nutrient-rich snack under 200 calories is generally fine at night.
Below are some excellent and healthy late-night snack ideas.
• Hot Cereal;
Hot cereal isn’t just for breakfast. It’s also a great way to wind down at night.
Hot, whole-grain cereals like oatmeal are good sources of fiber. Plus, they’re generally a healthier choice than cold, more refined products.
Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium. Long known for keeping your bones strong, this mineral has more recently also been linked to better sleep.
If yogurt is your snack of choice, opt for plain and flavor it with unsweetened fruit, such as berries or peaches.
You’re trying to quell a craving, not put yourself in a full-on food coma. That’s where popcorn comes into play. The addictively crisp, salty snack is naturally light (a whopping three-cup serving clocks in at about 100 calories), so you can nosh without getting weighed down before bed. Oh, and there’s also the complex carb factor again—a whole-grain bedtime snack will stick to your ribs much longer than a cookie or bowl of ice cream…as tempting as those sound. If you want to be really healthy, you can invest in an air popper, which pops the corn kernels with—you guessed it—air instead of oil or butter.
If you’re lazy like us, you don’t want to do more cooking and dishes just for a snack. A small handful of nuts fits the no-cook bill, thanks to their high protein content and healthy fats. Gioffre says that nuts (specifically organic ones) “are nutritional powerhouses that can help regulate blood sugar level, fight inflammation, decrease hunger urges, help weight loss and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.” His go-tos? “Raw almonds, pistachios and macadamias. [They’re] high in healthy fats, they suppress hunger, optimize brain function and help you burn fat.” Plus, according to the National Sleep Foundation, almonds and walnuts specifically contain the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin. Just make sure you stick to a handful and not the whole bag—that works out to about 200 calories per quarter cup, give or take.
• Cheese and Crackers;
If you remember begging for a bedtime snack as a kid, it’s only fitting that this childhood favorite fits the bill. Pick a lower-sodium cheese like Emmentaler Swiss to keep salt and saturated fat in check (too much of both can keep you up), and pair it with around 15 small crackers (again, opt for a lower sodium version with less than 200 mg per serving so you’re not guzzling water all night, London suggests). Bonus points for choosing a whole grain cracker to further summon sleep.