Imagine it's a lazy Saturday and you're staying in, watching TV late at night. It's coming up on 11:00 and you begin to feel hungry again, even after a satisfying dinner. What's your first impulse? It's late so you don't want to have to cook anything, and you also don't want a full out meal. So what do you go for? Regardless of your decision chances are you chose an unhealthy option, and on top of that, you overate.
When you're sleeping, your body is essentially fasting for 8 hours, so it goes into reserve mode and switches gears to slow down your body's functions, including metabolism. By stuffing your face with your favorite munchie, not only will you wake up with a stomach ache, but your body stores all that food in the form of fat throughout the night. So how do you avoid this? The ideal answer would be to not eat before bed at all, but sometimes we just wanna have something to snack on while we watch TV. Here are some common midnight snacks and healthy replacement options:
The Dollar Menu Disaster:
We're all guilty of the late night run to our favorite fast food drive thru. We tell ourselves "just a couple things from the dollar menu," yet as the car pulls closer and closer to the bright beacon of a menu offering all its savory and sweet options, we are drawn in like a mosquito to the light. Before you know it, you're pulling away with a much larger bag of food than expected, and even larger feelings of anticipated regret.
Instead of getting a double cheeseburger, chicken sandwich, and large fry, make yourself a grilled cheese sandwich at home. It's quick, simple, and you feel a lot less greasy after eating it. There are many delicious variations of this simple sandwich, so change it up to keep things interesting.
The Potato Chip Massacre:
This is a dangerous one. You're sitting on the couch watching your favorite show or movie with your eyes affixed to the screen, while your hands know the exact position of the next chip you're reaching for. Before long you look down to find crumbs covering your bloated stomach, fingers coated in grease (or cheese dust), and an empty family sized bag. The feeling of intense remorse immediately floods your head and you exclaim to yourself, "WHAT HAVE I DONE?!"
Although these substitutions may not have that greasy and crunchy satisfaction, they're definitely much healthier. Try eating popcorn except instead of extra butter, lightly dust it with your favorite seasonings (go easy on the salt!). Otherwise, edamame beans are always a great snack. They are very easy to prepare: boil for a couple minutes, chill on ice, and season with coarse ground salt.
Similar to the family sized bag of chips, this one is very easy to get carried away with. The breakup, also known as "Me, my pint, and I," is the ever famous gorging of your favorite ice cream flavor. The biggest mistake you made in this situation was not scooping it out into a bowl! But that's beside the point. More importantly, ice cream is heavily saturated in preservatives, colorings, and of course sugar. So how do you indulge without greatly increasing your risk for developing diabetes?
Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese! These low fat dairy products are high in protein and calcium, and probiotics from Greek yogurt help with digestion. Add your favorite fruit to keep it fresh and interesting. Try cottage cheese with diced fresh peaches. Want to switch it up even more? Make yogurt smoothies with Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, a little bit of ice, and milk.
Although the classic snacks we know and love just taste so good, you will come to realize after trying healthy snacking that those foods just won’t be as appealing anymore. When you learn to eat clean and healthy, your body will adjust and begin to prefer the fresh, real foods over the fake processed stuff. Try it out and you'll notice the difference for yourself!