Hunger pangs that wake you up at night disturb both your sleep and your diet. You don't want to go on a midnight binge that derails your entire eating plan. What you eat right before bed can help curb the middle-of-the-night munchies. Instead of grabbing typical before-bed snacks such as chips and cookies or skipping an evening meal, reach for other natural options that will not only suppress your appetite, but might increase your overall nutritional profile for the day.
When you're trying to eat fewer calories to reduce weight, eating more fat -- which has often been synonymous with body fat -- seems counter intuitive. But, eating fat from healthy sources, such as cold-water fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, actually curbs your appetite. In 2008, researchers from the University of California, Irvine, discovered that consuming fats triggers your small intestine to produce a compound that reduces hunger pangs. Before bed, have a handful of almonds, half an avocado or a tablespoon of coconut oil to keep nighttime hunger at bay.
Herbs and Spices
Foods with a high level of natural fragrance -- such as ginger, rosemary and mint -- may also help reduce your appetite. Brew fresh ginger root or peppermint into a fragrant tea that you sip just before settling into bed. Wasabi or cayenne pepper added to your last evening meal may further reduce your appetite. Supplements that include cinnamon, ground ginger or cayenne may also help.
A laxative before bed will do anything except allow you to sleep, but a snack high in fiber might actually help you sleep. The fiber fills you up and gives your stomach something to work on as you get some shut-eye. Fiber is indigestible plant material, and fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber. In particular, apples have ample fiber and pectin -- both of which squelch your appetite. In addition, apples don't spike your blood sugar like an evening snack of chips, popcorn or cookies.
Protein takes longer for your body to digest, compared to simple carbohydrates, so you feel full longer. A chicken leg just before bed may not be the most appealing snack, however. Instead, reach for whey protein mixed in water. Look for one with a minimal amount of added sugar. Most contain about 100 calories per scoop -- which isn't a lot when you're warding off an evening binge that could cost you thousands of calories.