There's no need to deny yourself a late-night snack if you're feeling hungry, but you still have to think smart when it comes to eating late. Eating the wrong foods will disrupt your sleep while also adding a lot of unneeded calories to your day. Instead of just diving into the nearest, tastiest-looking item in your fridge, here are five types of foods to avoid at night and why.
1. Greasy or fat-filled foods. Greasy, heavy, fatty foods not only make you feel sluggish the next morning, but they also make your stomach work overdrive to digest all that food. Stay away from things like fast food, nuts, ice cream, or super cheesy foods right before bed.
2. High-carb or sugary foods. A little bit of something sweet before bed may be just what you need to rest happy, but if you gobble a huge slice of chocolate cake, the spike in your blood-sugar levels could cause your energy levels to spike and plummet, disrupting your sleep in the process. Avoid cake, cookies, or other desserts as well as carby snacks like crackers or white bread and munch on an apple instead.
3. Red meat and other proteins. Like fatty foods, eating red meats late at night will sit in your stomach and make it hard for you to fall asleep while you're digesting (red meat may affect you the worst, but eating a large portion of chicken or pork would have the same effect as well). You don't have to avoid protein altogether, just make sure you go for lean and small portions, like deli-sliced turkey breast or a cup of yogurt.
4. Spicy foods. Spices may be a natural cure-all for a range of ailments, but when you're craving something to eat late at night, step away from the hot sauce. Spicy, peppery foods may upset your stomach, and the chemicals in spicy food can also stimulate your senses, making it hard to fall asleep.
5. Big portions. Late-night snacking shouldn't turn into a late-night meal. Keep the total amount of calories under 200 so you won't have any problems going and staying asleep. You'll also feel good knowing that you didn't undo all your healthy eating habits of the day right before bedtime.
So what should you eat instead? Small, light portions that will also calm cravings and help you sleep. Try incorporating these sleep-inducing foods or these low-calorie late-night snacks that hit all your sweet or salty cravings. And remember to limit how much alcohol you drink as well, since too many drinks can keep you up at night.