Late-night snacks can be the perfect companion to a good book, television show or movie. And contrary to popular belief, eating late at night is no more likely to promote weight gain than calories eaten at other times of the day, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To prevent overconsumption of calories during snack time, you should consume nutrient-dense foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat protein with serving sizes not exceeding 200 calories.
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Whole-grain crackers, pretzels or tortilla chips consumed with low-fat cheese or sour cream dip make a delicious healthy snack. Three cups of air-popped popcorn make a filling, fiber-rich snack under 100 calories. The National Institutes of Health also suggests 1 cup of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk as a nutritious late-night snack.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits such as blueberries, sliced strawberries or bananas, grapes or dried fruit such as raisins can be eaten alone or as a topping to whole-grain cereal or low-fat yogurt. A medium apple, a medium banana, 1/4 cup raisins or a cup of blueberries or grapes contains around 100 calories or less. Vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, cauliflower or celery can be eaten with low-fat dips for a nutritious late-night snack. One cup of carrots at 45 calories, broccoli at 30 calories or bell peppers at 30 calories eaten with 2 tbsp. hummus or low-fat salad dressing or dip makes for a 100-calorie snack.
Protein-based snacks can be filling and prevent overconsumption of excessive calories during snack time. Two tbsp. of sunflower, pumpkin or flax seeds or 3 tbsp. of almonds, peanuts, cashews or pecans makes a healthy snack for around 100 calories. One large hard-boiled egg at 75 calories, 1 cup of low-fat yogurt at around 100 calories, 1 oz. of low-fat cheese at around 80 calories, or 1/2 cup of fat-free chocolate milk at around 75 calories make protein-rich, low-calorie late-night snacks.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that you should listen to hunger cues so that snacking is a response to hunger and not to anxiety, stress, or habit. In addition, if you find that snacking has become part of your daily late-night routine, perhaps eat dinner later, hold off on dessert until later in the evening or go to bed earlier so you can ensure that your snacking is due to your body's hunger response.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Temptations of the late-Night snack
- University of Illinois Extension: Healthy snacks
- National Institutes of Health MedLine Plus: 4 Top healthy snacks
- Ladies Home Journal: 200 snacks under 100 calories
- Centers for Disease Control: How to use fruits and vegetables to help manage your weight
- Eating Well: Quick and healthy snack recipes and cooking tips
- Real Simple: 9 Healthy predinner snacks