Recently updated on February 10th, 2020
Foods to eat at night? What am I talking? Well, it’s true that one should avoid eating late at night. But it holds true when you follow the principle of early to bed and early to rise. But if you are awake till late in the night, due to insomnia or social media or any other reason then hunger pangs are bound to be there. Unavoidable!
Often on weekends, my husband, Sandeep, freaks out on TV and thus sleeps late, around 2 or 3 am. In between, of course, his rumbling tummy drags him to the kitchen from where he gets hold of readymade snacks and in the morning, empty packets put me off. But, what to do? Let him remain hungry? Or allow him to pile on calories by eating junk?
This led me to think of some healthy late-night snack options. And Just when I was struggling with some healthy options of food to eat late at night, my friend cum blogger, Srishti Gupta, came forward with her excellent ideas and shared this post. Its really helpful! Thanks, Srishti. Srishti’s ideas have helped me a lot. Let us see what she says about late-night snacking.
Is Sleeping Hungry Good?
This is age-old advice that dinner meals should be smaller as compared to other meals of the day because eating heavy dinner leads to weight gain. So, some people start avoiding dinner to lose weight and they sleep hungry at night. They do not understand how sleeping hungry can disrupt their metabolism and cause nausea, acidity, and loss of muscle mass.
On the other hand, there are some other groups of people who advocate eating full at night which often causes bloating after dinner. Although, a mild exercise can help you overcome this problem. Studies say that post-dinner cardio like walking on the treadmill or outside can improve your digestion and sleep quality plus helps you relieve gas problems. Read here the health benefits of walking after meals.
But a healthy dinner is as important to your body as other nighttime activities. Whether you are on a diet or want late-night snack ideas for busy nights, the list of the foods in this article and their recipe ideas would help you eat healthily or not sleep hungry at night. Let’s know first, which foods are ideal for dinners.
Why You Should Not Eat Late At Night?
It is said that eating late at night causes weight gain. This is because the body’s metabolism slows down, calories that you eat are not burnt and are thus stored as fat leading to weight gain. Also, normally, when people eat late at night, its usually in front of the TV or laptop and thus no control on portion size too. This unhealthy way of eating is what causes health issues.
Sharing a real incidence here. One of my uncle watches TV practically till 3 or 4 am. Few years back, while watching TV, when he felt hungry, instead of snacks or biscuits, he started eating carrots. You won’t believe, but he actually ate almost half a kg carrots daily. After a few months, result? No, no weight gain. In fact, he lost some but what amazed him (and us too) that his vision improved and had to get new spectacles with reduced power (as carrots are rich in Vitamin A)
Thus, what you eat at night is really important! You need to keep a watch on your calories.
- Avoid carbs, fat and protein-rich foods.
- Eat any low-calorie food. Anything which has less than 200 calories per serving.
- Eat small portions.
- Fruits and veggies are the best to eat.
- Eat just enough to curb your hunger, not to enjoy and fill the tummy.
Characteristics Of Healthy Dinners
Dinner has many essential functions from fueling the body to having good quality sleep.
Therefore, dinner meals should be packed with healthy nutrients. Tryptophan-Rich Foods are the best choices for dinners and late-night snacks.
What is Tryptophan?
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is important not only for the proper functioning of many organs but also for sound sleep. After absorbing L-tryptophan from food, our bodies convert it to melatonin and other minerals. This melatonin is important for sleep. It has been used to treat chronic insomnia and promote relaxing hormones in the brain.
Tryptophan is present in most protein-based foods, plant-based resources, dietary proteins. The foods abundant in tryptophan are chocolate, fish, eggs, cheese, oats, dried dates, warm milk, yogurt, red meat, poultry, sesame, chickpeas, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and peanuts.
To know more about tryptophan read here.
Healthy Foods To Eat At Night
Almonds are a good source of sleep-inducing tryptophan. They also help in weight loss which makes them good healthy food for consuming at night.
Packed with nutrients, almonds also reduce the risks of certain diseases such as cardiovascular and diabetes risks, homeostasis, body weight, glucose, inflammation, cholesterol, and oxidative stress.
Almonds are used in various ways. So if you don’t not like eating them as nuts, you can try
- Almond milk to drink straight.
- Almond yogurt and almond butter are also good alternatives.
- You can add the flavor to your food by putting them on your sandwich, cereal, and oatmeal.
- Try putting 2-3 almonds on your apple or a baked potato slice and enjoy a light healthy snack.
- A handful of Honey Roasted Almonds
As you already know walnut is a top nut for your brain health. Walnuts support your health manifold.
- One is you already know that they are the best for your brain health.
- Second is they have sleep-inducing properties.
- They are also a great source of healthy fats, good vitamins, fiber, and minerals. Read more here.
- You can eat walnuts in different ways. For a healthy and late-night healthy snack, roast them in the oven and enjoy with honey, yogurt, milk, cheese or whatever you like.
- You can also include them in your boiled sprouts to make your sprouts crunchy. Add some spices if you like it spicy or grind them and mix with your Roti and Sabzi.
- Banana Walnut Muffins (With wheat flour)
Pistachios are the most melatonin-rich nuts. Melatonin is a hormone often known as a sleep hormone which lets your body realize that it’s time to go to bed.
Pistachios are also packed in protein, vitamin B6, and magnesium, all of which promote better sleep.
- If you don’t feel like eating anything at your dinner, eat a handful of pistachios.
- If you can’t sleep for any reason, eat just two of them.
- You can also make homemade ice cream containing pistachios.
- Use these in oatmeal brownies or chocolate.
- Pistachios also taste good with Mung beans and chickpeas.
- Energy Bar
4. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are also plentiful in tryptophan which provides a relaxing and pleasing sensation to your brain and helps you to sleep. Read more here.
Studies found a few pumpkin seeds consumed with a small amount of carbohydrate before bed provides your body with the tryptophan needed for boosting mood and improving your sleep.
- Have a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Flavor your pizza, bread, dessert, cookies, figs, sprouts, soup, beans with oven-roasted crunchy pumpkin seeds and enjoy its benefits.
If you have trouble sleeping and wake up more often at night, try picking certain fruits and vegetables for dinner. Banana fruit is one of those fruits that may help you fall asleep faster during the night.
They provide a great source of various antioxidants, fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and phytonutrients, all of which contribute to better sleep. Read here.
- Try a banana smoothie, banana ice cream, banana cake or pastries, muffin or simply eat them with almond butter.
- You can also use banana slices with your oatmeal and bread to make them yummy.
- Banana Walnut Muffins
- Ragi Banana Cake
Kiwi is a very healthy fruit high in serotonin. Serotonin in the body is linked to several facets of sleep, such as inducing your brain to sleep by relaxing it and maintaining sleep during the night. Read more here.
- Make kiwi smoothie with banana or simply eat your kiwis with yogurt.
- Frozen Fruit Pizza
- Kiwi jam is also a tasty food that can be used to flavor your bread or any other food.
- Kiwi also gives good taste with almonds, salt, honey or as a salad.
Figs contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and other healthy nutrients that are crucial for a night of quality sleep. These nutrients help treat insomnia by curing sleeping disorders, stimulating the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that aids in inducing sleep.
- Roast a handful of figs in the oven for 45 minutes. Flavor them with honey or enjoy them with
- Greek yogurt. Other options you can try are fig mustard, figs with cheese or butter, salad with figs.
- Figs (Anjeer) And Dates Roll
8. Tart cherries
This super-nutrient fruit contains a considerably good amount of melatonin. As I mentioned above, melatonin is a sleep stimulating hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
Tart cherry is one of the best food to improve your sleep quality. Read here about a very interesting study. You can also use grapes in place of cherries.
- Drink tart cherry juice at night if you are insomniac. Cherries can be eaten in many other ways.
- They are tangy in taste so you can use them to add flavor to foods.
- Cut them and eat with honey, make the cake or eat them with salt as a salad. Dried cherries also provide many recipe ideas.
- Til Chikki With Berries
9. Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are enriched in carbs, minerals magnesium, and zinc that work synergistically in creating melatonin which leads to improving your sleep.
- Add spices to oven-baked sweet potato and a healthy snack is ready. For flavor, you can add honey.
- Make sweet potato burgers with a slice of avocado, cottage cheese, and sauce.
- You can try sweet potato chips for other snack ideas.
10. Herbal Teas
People have used herbal teas for ages to treat several ailments and sleeping disorders. Modern studies also seem to advocate their calming effect on the mind. Herbal teas include rosemary tea, peppermint tea, lemon balm tea, turmeric tea, passionflower tea, and chamomile tea.
- Passionflower tea is a rich source of good antioxidants responsible for reducing inflammation and boosting immune health.
- Chamomile tea is a popular herbal tea that may offer a variety of health benefits including sleep quality.
- Turmeric Tea
11.Grains & Cereals
One study found that eating high-glycemic carbs like corn-based cereals before bed may increase the hours of your sleep. Eating oatmeal at night can help keep your cholesterol levels in check.
- For dessert, try some no-bake peanut butter oatmeal cookies.
- Popcorn is also a portion of good food before bedtime. But, try to skip butter in popcorn.
- Go for healthy options like whole-grain bread.
- Garlic Bread, Stromboli, Pizza Rolls
12. Soy products
Soy products like soya bean, soy milk, soy sauce, tofu are excellent sources of tryptophan, especially for vegetarians. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you can substitute tofu and eggs for pretty much any soy product, in pretty much any recipe.
People who are diabetic or obese however specially need to control the portion size they consume. Ideally, they should sleep early to avoid eating at night but just in case they need to, please check the calorie count of the portions. It would be advisable to consult your dietician or doctor to fit the meal in your diet plan. Extra calories would require you to balance your intake in subsequent meals or additional workouts.
- An ideal dinner or a light night snack is one which digests easily, doesn’t create gastric issues and promotes sleep.
- Foods high in tryptophan are the perfect choice to eat at night. Therefore, try to pick foods that are highest in tryptophan and healthy as well. You can check the list of such foods here for your healthy dinner ideas.
- Generally, all nuts and seeds are good sources of tryptophan. So, you have the choice to pick your favorites. They also contain fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants and are packed with remedial properties. Studies show eating a handful of nuts daily reduces the risk of several diseases such as cancer, respiratory issues and heart disease.
- You can also try picking certain fruits and vegetables for dinner. Some fruits and vegetables may help you fall asleep faster during the night. Protein foods such as milk and milk products contain the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan.
- Dairy products contain calcium, a mineral that plays a direct role in the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Plus, it also acts as a natural relaxant in the body. Read more here.
- Limit high fat, heavy, processed, spicy foods, fluids, and caffeine at night.
Living a healthier lifestyle in this fast-paced world is quite an effort on your part. Srishti Gupta inspires you to change your life for the better by her articles on fitness and wellness (supported by science). At her blog, she gives detailed reviews & buying guides to fitness equipment that help you invest in the right products and make the best choice for you and your family.
You can check out her blog here: https://trendtofit.com.
Hope you have found this post about healthy foods to eat at night useful. If yes, do share your views in the comments section below. Your feedback fuels my enthusiasm to post more good content.
Eat healthily & live healthily!