Many claims on social media often say it is bad to eat before bed because it causes weight gain, heart diseases and obesity. However, eating a bedtime snack can be more beneficial than harmful.
Your body sends you signals when you start to feel a little hungry. This is called a physical hunger where the body needs more food to replenish its energy. When you are bored, sad or stressed and feeling hungry even after eating a meal, this is a psychological hunger.
When you are hungry a few hours after dinner and can recognize that this is a physical hunger, as in your stomach starts to growl and you are feeling a little hungry, the trick to having a night time snack is to be mindful of what and how much you are eating.
Being mindful during your meals
When it is time to eat, you should pick meals that are well balanced.
- Carbohydrates – from grains, fruits and vegetables
- Protein – from meat, fish, milk, eggs, lentils, tofu and nuts
- Fat – healthy fat
- Omega-3 fatty acids – fish, walnuts, flaxseed
- Monounsaturated fats – olive and canola oil and most nut
- Polyunsaturated fats – soybean, sunflower, sesame and safflower
Making meals taste pleasant and to your taste is a major factor to feeling satisfied with your meal, and to prevent you from feeling psychological hunger.
Knowing when to stop eating is also a major factor. Eating slowly may help your stomach send signals to the brain saying that you are full. This will help prevent you from overeating. Moreover, you do NOT have to finish your plate. This is a common misconception that makes people overeat.
To eat or not to eat
Now, it is a few hours after dinner, and you feel a bit hungry. You are physically hungry after a well-balanced meal and thinking if you should eat. I say, just eat! Grab a light healthy snack that is small and nutrient dense.
- Fruits – berries, apple, cherries
- Vegetables – edamame, carrots, celery
- Air-popped popcorn
- Dark chocolate (unless you are sensitive to caffeine)
Eating a snack before bed is fine as long as you limit the amount you eat by checking when you are full as well as eating foods that are nutrient rich. So, if you are truly hungry, just eat!