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Midnight Snacks - we've all been there and done that! Either you had an early meal, got back very late from work, or may be you just can't sleep because you're hungry. A hungry stomach should never be ignored for the fear of gaining pounds from midnight snacking. It keeps you awake, gives you gas and basically, messes up the body's metabolism.
It is true that the rate of metabolism in the body reduces when you rest, but it doesn't means it stops completely. You are still burning calories as you sleep.
Here are some healthy alternatives for midnight snacking:
1. Cereal and milk:
The key here is to choose the right cereal. Pick an option which has a good amount of fiber. This with cold or warm milk is the perfect proportion of fiber to protein to keep you feeling light, satiated and happy before sleep. Avoid cereals with added sugars, they will spike up your blood sugar levels, making it difficult to sleep well.
This would be "The Chosen One" for many looking for a midnight snack. Cheese before sleeping? Why not? It's rich in calcium, and has a good amount of fat. Mix it up with whole-grain crackers and that will give you enough fiber too. A perfect snack! But if you're watching your weight, it's better to have controlled portions of this snack. String cheese is also a good option. Stack up the fridge with it, and it is easily available.
Nothing like a warm, soothing bowl of oatmeal with some fresh cut fruits and a little honey. It makes a great fiber-rich breakfast, and a good midnight snack if eaten in moderation. Eating a large amount might make you feel very uncomfortable while you try to sleep. Oats have soluble fibers that help in lowering the blood sugar levels. This even slows down the process of conversion of carbs to simple sugars. Thus, keeping you full and giving you a good night's sleep.
4. Turkey sandwich:
Slices of turkey with whole-grain bread, some mayo or mustard, a slice of tomato and some lettuce, you've got a healthy, satisfying midnight snack! Turkey provides the fat constituent and protein, while bread provides the carbs. Together, they help keep you full and provide the flavour you might be craving.
5. Nuts and fruits:
Nuts are a rich source of oils, amino acids, vitamins, minerals like selenium, magnesium, potassium, copper and phosphorus, healthy fats and also, some antioxidants. Fresh fruits are rich in water, fiber and vitamin C. These two when put together balance the amount of protein and fat required to put you to sleep feeling light but satiated. Drizzle some honey on it to sweeten it a little more. You can even make popsicles of fresh fruits with water or plain soda. Just an interesting twist to plain ol' fruits.
6. Peanut butter with banana or in a jelly sandwich:
Peanut butter just makes everything go with it so beautifully. Peanut butter has some good dietary fiber and also a good amount of potassium. But it is also loaded with calories, which is why it's better to stick to just 1-2 tablespoons of it with banana or in a sandwich. You can just slice up some 2 bananas and add a spoon of peanut butter to it. Or you can relive your childhood with a classic jelly and peanut butter sandwich. A choice of a whole-grain bread is advisable because the other two ingredients are already rich in calories.
7. Greek yogurt and fruit:
If you're craving a little dessert before bed, binging on ice-cream or indulging in a piece of cake might not be such a great idea. Have a bowl of Greek yogurt instead. Add some fruits to it and freeze it for an hour. Voila! You have a healthy solution to ice-cream cravings. You can even mix the yogurt and fruits to make a smoothie and sip on it. Greek yogurt offers a generous amount of proteins, healthy carbs, calcium and, of course, probiotic bacteria. If that's not sweet enough for you already, you can sweeten it further by adding some honey.
8. Cottage Cheese:
100 g of cottage cheese contains 12 g of proteins, 60 mg of calcium, and all of the amino acids. It has casein, a slow-metabolizing protein and also the amino acid, tryptophan. Both these are broken down slowly by our body, keeping us full for a longer time. This slow breakdown ensures that the body gets a continuous supply of tryptophan, which is a sleep inducer like many other foods. It has a mild sweet taste that makes it appealing to eat before bed. You can add a spoon of peanut butter to make it less boring if you like. It's a favorite of many athletes, weight-watchers and weight-lifters.
9. Bowl of berries:
Oh, those beautiful little, colourful wonders! They are loaded with minerals, vitamins and an abundance of antioxidants. Berries are supposed to be the most nutritious foods found on Earth. They have the right amount of water too. This balanced nutrient content and water quantity makes them healthy and light for night-time snack. Just mix all the available berries and pop them plain. If you're not fond of consuming them plain, add a dab of whipped cream, some almond milk or chopped nuts and granola. If that doesn't work either, just smoothie it up.
10. Avocado or hard-boiled egg with bread:
A plain toast at night when you're craving food doesn't sound very appealing. But some fresh avocado with salt and pepper or guacamole spread on the same toast doesn't sound so bad now, does it? The bread helps keep you satiated due to its carb content and the avocado contains the heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fat. If you don't have an avocado at hand, don't worry, just whip up a hard-boiled egg to go with the toast. The egg provides you enough protein and fat along with providing you with the taste.
11. Garden Vegetable Omelette:
A heavy 3-egg omelette loaded with cheese and butter maybe a good idea for breakfast or dinner, but it certainly isn't one for a late-night snack. An alternative of the same can be prepared with one or two eggs without cheese or too much butter, instead loaded with veggies such as tomatoes, bell peppers and onions and basil. A moderate amount of salt must be added to avoid a lot of water retention.
Never deny your body a meal when it needs one. Just remember to avoid large meals before bed. A snack that is low in calories, has a healthy ratio of carb to protein and is light for the stomach, makes an excellent midnight snack.
A little more awareness on the nutrition of the food you choose to buy could help you come up with many more healthy midnight snack ideas.
So, snack away!