It’s bedtime and you are feeling hungry so what should you eat? We often reach for the wrong bedtime snacks and think they are absolutely healthy, but then have trouble falling asleep without knowing the reason.
Believe it or not, what you eat before going to bed can greatly affect your sleep quality. It’s difficult to go to bed when you are starving and there’s no shame in having a snack right before hitting the sack, but you should make healthy choices and avoid overeating. Your bedtime snack choice should be under 200 calories and it shouldn’t contain caffeine.
Read on to discover some of the worst foods to eat before bedtime and make sure you avoid eating these things at all costs. Otherwise, you can gain undesirable body fat, disrupt your sleep and jeopardize your health.
1. Nut butter
Almond butter, peanut butter, or any other nut butter can cause weight gain if you make it a regular bedtime snack. Although numerous studies show that peanut butter can help lose weight, there are also researches that show peanut butter can cause weight gain.
When I suffered from eating disorder, I consumed nut butter each night and gained about 25 pounds, and it was not only a terrible habit, but it also was embarrassing. If you are feeling snacky late at night, don’t reach for any nut butter. I suggest you to drink a big glass of unsweetened almond milk. Almond milk contains calcium that will help take away your cravings, calm your nerves, and help you sleep better.
You can sweeten your almond milk with stevia or cinnamon, and your healthy and tasty bedtime snack is ready! If you still want to eat some peanut butter before bed, feel free to do it, but make sure you consume it in moderation and don’t make it a regular bedtime snack.
It’s a common myth that a great amount of alcohol can help you sleep better. While alcohol tends to have a drowsy and a lethargic effect, it doesn’t make your sleep more refreshing and revitalizing. Alcohol can lead to dehydration and reduce the restorative functions of sleep.
You can even wake up in the middle of the night and stay awake until the early hours of the morning. Therefore, if you want to have a deep and long-lasting sleep, avoid drinking alcohol before going to bed.
Otherwise, the next day the bags under your eyes will tell you that alcohol is one of the worst things to consume before sleep. If you suffer from occasional or chronic insomnia, you should be aware that alcohol can make it worse in the long run.
3. Candy bars
As tempting as candy bars might be, they are one of the worst things to eat before hitting the sack. A recent research has found that 7 out of 10 people who consumed junk foods such as candy bars before going to sleep were more likely to suffer from nightmares that night. Candy bars are high in sugar that produces nightmarish brain waves.
I decided to eat candy bars late at night, just for experiment, and I can tell that the first night I didn’t notice any changes in my sleep and I didn’t experience any nightmare, but the next two nights were difficult. Not only did I suffer from terrible nightmares, but also I couldn’t sleep the whole night then, and in the morning I was so drowsy that I couldn’t go to work.
To tell the truth, I didn’t think it was because of candy bars, but once I started eating healthy again, all my nightmares vanished. Sure, it’s up to you to decide what to eat before you go to bed, but researchers don’t recommend eating candy bars right before sleep.
More: 10 Ways to Sleep Better
4. Ice cream
I’m sure ice cream is a favorite food of most of us. It actually comprises double-whammy properties. Ice cream is a great comforting food but it’s also one of the worst foods to consume before sleep.
Even if you are trying to gain weight, don’t eat ice cream late at night. Ice creams are packed with fat that is digested at a slower rate, and it’s high in sugar that cause nightmares and can keep you up.
The taste of ice-cream is definitely calming, but unfortunately, the results are absolutely terrible. Instead of eating ice-cream, try to drink a glass of unsweetened milk. I know it’s not as delicious as ice cream, but it’s much healthier.
It may sound obvious, but you should never eat chips before going to sleep, especially if you want to drop a few unwanted pounds. Chips are one of those tasty foods that are difficult to stop eating.
Stay away from chips in the evening when you are more likely to keep on and on, whether in front of the computer or television. It’s easier to lose count and overeat when you are distracted.
Try snacking on some raw vegetables such as carrots and red bell peppers, or reach for a small handful of almonds. You will get a crunchy texture of chips and the fiber will fill you up faster than chips. Studies show that chips as well as soda provide only empty calories, and they don’t have any health benefits.
6. Red meat
It’s not recommended to consume any meat before sleep, because it takes longer to digest. Red meat, especially processed meat, is particularly bad food to eat late at night. The thing is that red meat is packed with fats and proteins, which is not actually bad, but it keeps the body busy breaking down it the entire night, causing discomfort and sometimes cramping.
Avoid a night full of twisting and turning and keep your systems at peace by eating healthy bedtime snacks. Red meat has also a higher insulin response and it can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, so it’s better to avoid eating it in the evening. A hard-boiled egg is a great bedtime snack that you can eat instead of red meat late at night.
If you’re trying to gain a few pounds, you can eat bread late at night. However, if you’re on a diet and trying to lose weight, stay away from this bedtime snack.
My friend needed to put on weight and she did nothing but have a sandwich each night. She put on 10 pounds in a month with just little effort. The thing is, bread contains carbs and yeasts that can cause your body to put on weight, as well as crave more carbs and eat more at night. But if you are trying to gain weight, it doesn’t mean that you should eat sandwiches the whole day and night.
There are a lot of healthy ways to put on weight and eating bread isn’t a healthy way. Instead of reaching for sandwiches, consider eating a small bowl of hot oats. This is also a source of carbs, but it will not lead to weight gain like sandwiches will.
While one slice of your favorite pizza isn’t the end of the world, are you sure you can stop at only one slice? Yes, pizza is tasty and easy to make, but it contains mega calories so eating it right before bed will make you gain weight faster.
The tomato sauce that layers your pizza contains high levels of acidity that can lead to acid reflux. Plus, the greasy toppings can give you heartburn.
If you want to wake up in the middle of the night and stay awake until the morning, you can still eat your pizza before bedtime. But if you want to have a high quality sleep, avoid it at all costs. Though, you may want to try a vegetable pizza with carrots and red bell peppers, but without that layer of tomato sauce and without any other unhealthy foods.
While chocolate is not loaded with a lot of fat and sugar, it does contain caffeine. It also contains stimulants such as theobromine, which is well-known to make your heart race a little. Due to this you can stay awake at night and it can also cause sleep deprivation.
People who don’t get enough sleep each night tend to suffer from high levels of cortisol, which can cause muscle tissues to break down. I’m a big lover of dark chocolate and I have never thought that eating dark or any other chocolate before bed can affect my sleep.
However, according to some studies chocolate is one of the worst things to eat right before bedtime. The good news is that we can enjoy this treat during the day, of course, in moderation.
10. Coffee flavored food
Coffee drink, java chip ice cream, coffee flavored candies, or anything that has coffee in it are all unhealthy bedtime snacks. If you eat one of these snacks before going to sleep, you will stay awake for longer and it will be difficult to fall asleep fast. Even if you fall asleep, you might wake up in the middle of the night due to the caffeine fluctuations in the body.
Some of you may say that coffee doesn’t keep you awake at night and you don’t have trouble sleeping after drinking a cup of coffee right before bed. But, how do you feel in the morning? Sleepy, tired and lack of energy?
Perhaps you think it’s not because of coffee flavored food, but it’s actually because of it unless you are sick. Avoid any coffee flavored food at bedtime for a great night’s sleep and better health.
Eating pasta, even with nothing else on it right before bedtime, is never a good idea. Yes, it’s a quick and easy fix for people who want to combat their craving before hitting the sack, but it’s actually not a healthy bedtime snack.
Pasta is packed with carbohydrates and has lots of calories, which are prone to settling around your waist. Eating pasta before bed will also spike your insulin levels, as well as blunt nighttime HGH (Human Growth Hormone) production.
This is not good since around 80% of this fat-burning and muscle-building hormone is released during sleep. Avoid it by saving the carbohydrate-rich food like pasta to eat earlier in the day.
12. Pastries and sweets
I hope you don’t stock pastries such as fritters, turnovers, donuts and sweets such as cupcakes, cakes or cookies in your house. If you do, you will be more likely to eat them at night. The problem is, your inhibitions are very low late at night because you are tired or stressed from the day, and you can reach for sugar to boost your energy levels.
However, the best thing you can do when you are tired is to go to sleep. Don’t reach for those sweets and pastries at night, if you don’t want to put on about 5 pounds a week or if you don’t want to wake up hungry in the middle of the night because of low blood sugar. If you are super hungry before bedtime, opt for healthier foods such as Greek yogurt with frozen berries or whole-grain crackers with hummus.
Yes, it’s surprising to see celery on the list of the worst foods to eat before bedtime, but you should avoid it right before going to bed in order to have a deep, uninterrupted sleep. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with eating celery in the evening, but it’s a natural diuretic and it can increase your rate of urination more than usual. This means you will wake up a few times during the night.
Don’t eat too much celery before bed or don’t eat it at all. You can reach for carrots instead. They are loaded with Vitamin A which is good for your skin and for your vision, and it won’t disturb your sleep.
I like to eat carrots, red bell peppers and a little bit of celery with homemade hummus before bedtime, but I do it in moderation. Green smoothie is a healthy bedtime snack as well.
14. Too much fruit
Most of us find fruits to be a healthy thing to eat right before bedtime and I’m not saying a little serving of some fruit is bad. But too much fruit is lots of sugar and it can cause gas since the sugar ferments on top of any other food in your intestines. It’s hard on your digestion and can be very painful.
Consume a small serving of your favorite fruit and see how you feel. It’s not recommended to eat more than a cup before bedtime.
Greek yogurt with some frozen fruit is one of my favorite bedtime snacks that help me get rid of my intense cravings in no time. You can also eat a little bit of nuts and fruits, but don’t overeat them.
If you are watching your weight, cereal is another food to avoid eating at night. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with eating one bowl of whole-grain cereal at night. Just stay away from sugary cereals, or you will get a sugar high right before bed and you can forget about a good night’s sleep.
Personally I think a bowl of oatmeal with milk is much healthier than cereal and I don’t recommend eating any cereal, even in the morning. Researches show that cereal can be bad for us and it can cause numerous health issues, if consumed regularly, especially before bedtime.
To tell the truth, I think it’s okay to eat everything you want at night, but do it in moderation. But according to numerous studies, the aforementioned foods are not recommended to eat before sleep. Try to avoid these foods and you won’t have trouble falling asleep.
What’s your favorite bedtime snack?