Snacking just before bed is a normal thing, but this is brought on more from boredom rather than hunger, according to nutrition expert Rene Ficek at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating. Furthermore, nocturnal munching tends to be on more high-calorie snacks, like ice cream, cake, and chips, and can result in exceeding needed daily calories and therefore weight gain.
One study that contained over 400 participants, done by The Center of Obesity Research and Education, showed that late night snacking is associated with higher body mass index (BMI).
Not only can this late night snacking lead to weight gain, but it can also be linked to other health issues, like sleep and diabetes risk. According to Alyssa Cellini, nutritionist and co-founder of My Custom Cleanse, large amounts of sugar and carbohydrates that are found in snacks like ice cream and chips can offset insulin/cortisol levels and affect circadian rhythm. Sleep is highly influenced by this rhythm and if it is thrown off, you can toss and turn all night and be more inclined to hit that snooze button in the morning. High blood sugar swings and varying insulin levels are also precursors to diabetes and late night munchies can push you in that direction.
Rule of thumb: Don’t eat 2 hours before bed
Ana Goldseker, director of nutrition for Nava Health and Vitality Centers, suggests eating at least two hours before bed. This gives the body enough time to properly digest.
“You want the body to be resting at night, not digesting,” she says.
These 5 snacks should be avoided just before bed:
1. Boxed Cereal
Cereals contain carbohydrates and sugars that can spike blood sugar. There are healthier options when it comes to choosing a cereal, but even then, they contain carbohydrates that the body will work to digest, and therefore should be avoided.
2. Ice Cream
Avoid high doses of sugar and fat before bed, as this puts some strain on our digestive systems. If our bodies are working, sleep is more difficult.
Burgers can have a high amount of fat and be denser in calories. This can cause issues such as heartburn and increase the chance of a restless night.
4. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has been shown to have great health benefits. This delicious treat, however, contains caffeine and can make it difficult to fall asleep. You don’t find yourself drinking a cup of coffee right before bed, so you shouldn’t eat dark chocolate either.
5. Jalapeño Peppers and Spicy Foods
Spicy foods boost metabolism and increase body temperature. They can cause gastrointestinal distress and keep you awake.
GOOD NIGHT TIME SNACKS
If you must eat before going to bed, try these foods, which have been shown to be good slumber assistants.
• Pumpkin seeds
• Soy beans
• Dark, leafy greens
Originally posted on Healthy Magazine