Hungry before going to bed? Checking out what snacks are on hand? Is it bad to eat before you go to bed? Growing up I always ate my dessert late, usually just before bed time - a hard habit to break. The New York Times has an article, What are the Best Snacks Before Bedtime? A reader asked them,
“I know it’s not good to eat close to bedtime, but I get hungry. What are the least harmful things I can eat – or drink – say, an hour or two before going to bed?” Most of their bedtime snack suggestions were low fat and healthy so I adapted some of their suggestions and also added some real life snacks for real people.
- Calories – if you are trying to keep off the pounds or lose a few pounds, limit the bedtime snack to 100-200 calories or 300 calories max, says Isabel Maples from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If you are trying to bulk up, then adding snacks to your day is a good way to add some calories to your day. MyPlate used to note how many “discretionary calories” a person could eat each day. These were calories that could be used for “fun” foods. Bedtime snacks are a great time to use up some of those discretionary calories.
- Choose from a food group for a healthy snack before bed : fruits, vegetables, some low-fat dairy, some nuts
- Choose foods that have some food group in them but are more fun and more of a treat. I like low-fat chocolate ice cream. Not that it is the healthiest choice but it does provide some calcium and protein.
- Yogurt and fruit
- Cereal and milk – any General Mills cereal is a good choice as all are whole grain.
- Crackers and cheese – Triscuits or other whole grain crackers
- Cookies and milk – choose some oatmeal-raisin cookies, peanut butter cookies
- Half a peanut butter sandwich – mixing carbs and protein can be more satisfying and make you feel fuller longer
- Popcorn – a great whole grain snack. If you are watching calories, choose a bag of Skinny Pop. Or Orville Redenbacker’s Naturals, Simply Salted microwave popcorn. Popcorn is a great way to add whole grains to a kid’s diet. Note to prevent choking, “According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, small foods, such as popcorn, should not be offered to a child until he is at least 5 years old.” (When Can A Child Eat Popcorn?)
- Dried fruit and nuts
- Ice cream – choose low-fat if you are watching your calories or regular if you are not. Ice cream adds some protein and calcium to your diet. A fun way to sneak a little extra calcium into a kid’s day.
- Pudding – with a dollop of real whipped cream. Pudding seems to have gone out of favor. Pudding can add calcium, protein and vitamin D to your day. Young kids can easily help make some pudding for dessert. And pudding is a great way for parents to sneak more calcium and vitamin D into a kid’s diet. Adding a dollop of whipped cream is fun and it makes the pudding even more special. Yes, whipped cream is high in fat and has some saturated fat. But, 2 Tablespoons of Reddi Wip has only 15 calories and only .5 grams of saturated fat. So add a dollop of whipped cream to your pudding as a treat.
5. Or take some of the snack advice of readers who responded to the NY Time’s article:
a. Ice cream sprinkled with some nuts
b. A slice of pizza
c. John noted: “I think butterscotch pudding and chocolate chip cookies are one of the BEST snacks before bedtime”. Not bad suggestions, John. As noted above, pudding offers protein and calcium. Add some milk with the chocolate chip cookies and you added protein, calcium and vitamin D.
Many people will say eating before bedtime is a bad idea and many people who commented on the NY Times article did say this. But as a person who likes a snack before bedtime, I ignore this advice. And for parents, kids have small stomachs and they do need snacks. A kid may indeed be hungry before bedtime even if they ate well at dinner time.