Late-night snacking is a cross-nation, cross-gender occurrence. Everyone, at any place, or any age has experienced it. There are even some myths related to it. Some folk stories say that if you go to sleep hungry, you won't have peaceful sleep because your soul will be out looking for food. Another, more modern myth suggests that if you do eat right before bedtime, you'll gain weight because the food will be stored in your body as fat.
We can't say anything regarding the first myth, but we sure can bust the second one. Dietitian Sarah Remmer explains that what matters isn't the time when you consume calories, but rather the total calories you consume during the entire day. The obvious late-night snacking tips are to avoid caffeine or deep-fried foods right before bed. We want to promote a healthy relationship with food, so if hunger attacks at night, we would advise you to listen rather than feel guilty about it.
Here are the foods you should reach for when the nighttime snacking creeps up on you. Note that these don't necessarily promote sound sleep, but they won't disrupt it either.
Related: Foods that Help and Foods that Disrupt Sleep
This nighttime snack will give you just enough nutrition without taking a large toll on your digestive system. Thanks to their mineral content and heart-healthy omega-3s, walnuts have been found to help fight type-2 diabetes.
It might surprise you, but dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman says that even chocolate-covered nuts are a good option. The "blood-stabilizing protein and healthy fat coming from the nuts," she says, "will ensure you're feeling full without disrupting your sleep."
2. Greek yogurt with nuts and fruits
This snack can be considered a light meal, so you can have it even an hour before bed. It also makes a great breakfast. We're big fans of Greek yogurt for its high protein value and probiotic content. As with every well-rounded meal, this one has a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Almonds and berries are a great duo, for instance, but if you're not keen on almonds, any nut will do. We'd especially recommend walnuts and pecans. Any type of berry will be excellent for its anti-oxidant component, but any other fruit will do as well.
If you'd like a bigger snack but are too tired to prepare one, oatmeal is another great option. You can add whatever you like or eat it as is.
3. Rice cakes with peanut butter
Here's another option based on the protein-carbs-fat trio. The rice cake delivers the carbs (and a much satisfying crunch) while the peanut butter takes care of the protein and fat. One thing to keep in mind, though, is the ingredients list on that jar of PB. Pay close attention to the sugar content, making sure that it's as low as possible. Peanut butter with peanut crunch works just as fine as the smooth variety.
Related: 5 Foods to Help You Sleep at Night
4. Dried shiitake mushrooms
As unlikely as it may sound, these mushrooms offer a plethora of vitamins and minerals, in addition to a good fiber and carbohydrate content. Their pungent taste isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy them, their fiber content will keep you full until morning, without straining your digestive system too much. A nice added benefit is their high content of vitamin D, which is crucial to quality, restorative sleep. Dr. Berg explains how it works in the bonus video below: