Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Do's and Don'ts of Bedtime Snacking

It’s bedtime, and you’re feeling snacky. This is the story of my life!  I can be good all day long, eating clean, responsible meals, no indulgences, but the minute the kids are in bed, something internally happens.  I become a gremlin.  I MUST SNACK.  Usually, I'm not even very choosy about what the snack involves. Sweet, Salty, etc. . .I do not discriminate. Do you have this problem? Do your cravings kick in at bedtime? Must you satisfy this midnight snack fetish?  As you stand in front of the fridge, you’re a little worried your snack choice might end up keeping you awake all night, so what to do? No worries. I've done my research. Here is a list of the worst foods to eat before bed. As long as your snack choice in under 200 calories, and doesn’t have caffeine, and as long as it’s not on this following list of "forbidden foods", give it a go, and satisfy that salty or sweet craving! Here are the 10 worst foods to eat before bed.

You know you’re not supposed to drink coffee, even decaf — which actually DOES contain caffeine, by the way — but why? That caffeine is a stimulant, so it’ll keep you awake, but it’s also a diuretic, which means you’ll be up and down to relieve your busy bladder all night, too. Yikes, the double-whammy! Naturally, then coffee tops most lists of the worst foods to eat before bed… or drink, I suppose.

Oh, how I do love chocolate, but it’s also one of the worst foods to eat before bed. this is such a bummer because the hubs and I love to channel surf before bed and scarf down a couple swiss cake rolls. . . at least we used to before we were shown the error of our ways. Sure, dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, but it also contains caffeine, and a lot of sugar, which will also give you a buzz you just don’t need when you’re trying to relax, unwind, and doze off.

For the lactose-intolerant or for those who suffer from heartburn, cheese can be one of the worst foods to eat before bed. It can also be heavy in your tummy while you’re trying to sleep, even if you’re not intolerant. Enjoy the cheese and crackers earlier in the evening.

Chips and Salsa or Spicy Thai may sound like the ideal bedtime snack, but wow, are you asking for trouble! The spicy peppers and other ingredients may cause heartburn, and for some, they’ll even give an unexpected energy boost. Rather than sleeping, you’ll be up cleaning the bathroom, washing your car, writing that novel…

As I mentioned with chocolates, it’s a good idea to avoid sweets before bed. The sugar will get you all buzzed up. Try a naturally sweet alternative, like a handful of fresh berries or an apple instead. These also contain sugar, but it’s a lot less likely to give you a buzz and crash later. 

Trust me, nothing will sit as heavy in your stomach as you’re trying to sleep than a big, greasy hamburger.You may think it's an absolutely fabulous idea at the time, but trust me on this one!  It’s almost guaranteed to give you heartburn, too. Skip the burger in favor of something lighter, less greasy, and less loaded with fat. You’ll sleep a lot better.

I know, I know. It seems like a night-cap makes you feel drowsy. That’s true, but did you know as soon as the alcohol works its way out of your bloodstream in a few hours, you’ll experience a wake-up, stimulant effect? It’s best to avoid alcohol 4 to 6 hours before bed for just this exact reason. It might help you drift off, or worse, pass out, but then you’ll wake up, and get frustrated as you try, and fail, to fall asleep again.

Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber, but sweetie, don’t eat them before bed! They’ll make you gassy, for sure, and that’s a horrible way to spend the night. Imagine the embarrassment of ruining sexy-time with an ill-timed toot. Save the beans for another time, during the day, when the gas will have plenty of time to work its way out when you’re not trying to sleep… or snuggle. 

Most colas contain a lot of caffeine, which by now, I’m sure you’ve seen is one of the worst foods to eat before bed (or drink before bed). Even non-cola sodas can contain a lot of caffeine, and they’re all loaded with sugary high fructose corn syrup. Stop drinking soda at mid-day to avoid staring at the ceiling, wishing you could sleep.


They’re greasy and salty and oh-so-delicious, but French fries are another of the worst foods to eat before bed. First of all, the grease from the fries may end up on your jammies, fingers, and face, requiring another bed-time beauty ritual. Also, the grease will sit heavy in your tummy as you try to sleep… avoid the fries at bed-time. If you crave something salty, why not try a handful of almonds or a few saltine crackers instead?
See, my snack-fetish friends? You can still snack at bedtime, but try to keep the snack light, not overly sweet or caffeinated, and under 200 calories (so it doesn’t sit heavy in your belly). As long as your snack doesn’t appear on the "forbidden foods" list, and as long as it meets the other criteria, dig in… then go scrub your teeth, wash your hands and face, grab your snuggly, and settle in.  Sweet dreams and happy, healthy snacking!
 What’s your favorite bedtime snack, and why?
 Does it help you sleep?
 Do tell!  I love all your feedback!

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