Sometimes the urge to eat something post-supper is more than just an urge; it’s a need. It could be that we had dinner too early, and we actually need a little extra something to balance our insulin so that our blood sugar doesn’t crash at 3am and wake us up. Or it could be that we’re in the luteal phase of our menstrual cycle, either just pre-bleed or in the middle, and we’re burning up more cals or need some additional carbs. All valid reasons to eat a necessary part deux dinner.
Of course, there are wrong ways to go about it. Eating cake, cookies, packaged and processed foods, or binging far too late can cause inflammation, bloating, gas, or make insulin spike and load us up with calories we aren’t going to burn efficiently when we are asleep.
But late-night snacking isn’t always the root of all weight gain, and the reason we want to choose healthy nighttime snacks isn’t just for the obvious calorie factor. Empty carbohydrates can cause our metabolism to slow down, and hydrogenated oils are horribly inflammatory, making us fall asleep with gas pains and wake up to distended, bloated bellies, constipation, and skin issues.
So how do we quell the urge to snack after we’ve already had dinner, or we deem it too late? First things first: Address the feelings behind the urge. Are we actually hungry, or are we stressed? Are we heartbroken? Do we have an emotional gap we are looking to fill? If you fear the urge might be more emotional rather than real, physical hunger, try brewing yourself a cup of peppermint tea and journaling. A hot bath can dispel faux hunger as well, so make sure to nourish your soul first and foremost.
If the need is real — which it very well could be — it doesn’t mean you’re greedy or overeating. Active lifestyles take many forms, and the need to fuel is nothing to be ashamed of — it’s vital! Instead, opt for something that will actually meet your needs, and nourish your body and your desires.
While we don’t recommend going heavy on the dairy before bed, a protein rich, fermented dairy product like Greek yogurt or sheep’s milk yogurt will have significantly less sugar and tons of protein to fuel your sleep, muscle recovery, and skin health. So opt for plain, unflavored yogurt — and, if you need to satisfy a sweet tooth, top it off with a little sweetened granola or a drizzle of enzyme-rich honey!
It’s time to get rid of the guilt around eating after traditional dinner times, and simply start making wiser choices. Fuel your body — you deserve it.