We have all been there. There are still a couple of hours until bedtime, dinner is most definitely over, and yet… you are hungry. Not starving or anything, but just peckish enough that you would not be able to sleep, and if you tried you know you’d be heading downstairs in the wee small hours to help yourself to whatever sinful treats can be found… A lot of the most common go-to snacks such as chocolate, ice cream, and cereal contain high levels of caffeine which will keep you awake. So instead head off that path immediately by deliberately choosing to have a small but satisfying snack that will pinch off any cravings without breaking your diet. Pop your pajamas on and see which of these guilt-free snacks is the one for you:
1) Banana & Nut Butter Toast
Mash up a ripe banana and spread it onto a piece of high-quality whole-meal bread on which you have already spread some nut butter, either peanut or almond. Or you can thinly slice the banana and place the rounds carefully onto the nut butter – whichever looks the most pleasing! Finally, if you need something a little bit sweet, add a drizzle of honey over the top and enjoy. While it sounds very simple, this combination of flavors somehow becomes greater than the sum of its parts! It is also filling, packed with nutrients and will be enough to get you safely through to breakfast. If you are off bread, you can spread apple slices with nut butter instead.
2) Greek Yogurt & Berries
Invest in whatever berries are in season, or perhaps buy some frozen berries. Add a spoonful or two of thick rich Greek (or Greek-style) yogurt to the berries and enjoy a protein boost that will satiate your hunger and provide a boost of necessary vitamins and minerals. The fruit is excellent for satisfying a sweet tooth without indulging in too much sugar.
3) Cheese & Wholewheat Crackers
Wholewheat will fill you up while the cheese is satisfying and will help you to get off to sleep easily. However, do take this snack with care and make sure not to overdo it. Too much cheese close to bedtime can cause extremely vivid dreams!
If you are on a lower calorie lifestyle and need something to keep you going before your next full meal, popcorn is a good choice. It can be made with minimal oil (and use a good quality one to get the best benefits) and even a relatively small bowlful is filling and provides you with some useful fibre. It can also help to maintain good blood sugar levels, which is ideal when you are relaxing ready for bed.
5) Go Dark
While chocolate should usually not be eaten late at night, being a stimulant and containing a certain amount of caffeine, just one or two squares of dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids or higher) can be just what you need to take the edge off a niggling sweet tooth. The higher the percentage of chocolate, the lower the sugar content, so go as high as you can without grimacing! Dark chocolate is a good bedtime snack if you suffer from restless legs at night – which is a sign of needing magnesium in your diet, something that dark chocolate does contain.
No matter which pre-bedtime snack you prefer, make sure to wait at least an hour before going to bed (main meals should be at least four hours before bedtime) to allow your snack to progress far enough through your digestive system so as not to cause indigestion or heartburn.