When hunger strikes in the middle of the night, your first impulse is likely to grab a midnight snack. There are worse things you could do to your diet than eat a midnight snack, so it's best to grab a little something and remove hunger pangs. All things considered, a midnight snack will not ruin your diet. However, more than any other meal you consume during the day hours, you need to be extra mindful about the nutritional content of foods you eat late at night.
Understand Why You Should Eat a Low Calorie Midnight Snack
Even though your body continues to burn calories while you sleep, you don't need to take in any additional late night calories if you've eaten well during the day. Anything you eat in the middle of the night goes above and beyond your daily caloric needs. The excess will equal weight gain if it becomes a habit. Like a dessert or treat you'd allow yourself to indulge in occasionally, a midnight snack should be treated with the same sort of cautious attitude. You shouldn't beat yourself up after eating a midnight snack, but you should try to watch your calories the next day.
Know What Kind of Snacks to Eat
So we know a midnight snack isn't detrimental to your diet if you stick to healthy options, but too often it's easy to want to give into late night cravings for ice cream or left over Chinese food. Remember, you're making a big mistake if you do. If you're eating around 1800 calories a day and then indulge in a 500 calorie bowl of ice cream or carton of lo mein, you've outdone all of your good work.
If you find yourself hungry, grab a low-fat yogurt, a single serving size of plain popcorn or a piece of fruit. Other options are a glass of skim milk, a handful of almonds or a couple of cheese cubes. A midnight snack is not a free pass to indulge in any kind of treat you desire. Stick to the same healthy foods you would eat during the day. If you find yourself constantly going for calorie-laden goodies, keep them out of your house until you have the willpower to say no.
Change Your Eating Habits
A midnight snack is not going to ruin your diet if its an occasional occurrence. If you find yourself hungry just about every night of the week, though, you need to change your eating habits during the day. Try to get in the pattern of eating six small meals throughout your day. Be sure you're eating the right amount of protein, carbohydrates and fats. In short, be sure you're eating a well-balanced diet. Try to eat a more filling lunch or dinner--or both. If you satisfy your hunger in the evening, you'll have no need to consume a snack late at night.
Don't stress out if you find yourself eating midnight snacks frequently. Instead, go for healthy options while you make changes to your diet during the day. Eventually your new eating patterns will become habit and you won't find yourself hungry in the middle of the night.