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9 Worst Late Night Snacks

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9 Worst Late Night Snacks

By Allie Firestone, DivineCaroline

I’m the queen of the late-night snack. I picked up the habit as a college student living in San Diego, finishing way too many nights at 24-hour Mexican food joints. Ever since my first taste of those carne asada fries (basically nachos heaped on top of French fries), I was hooked on “the fourth meal”—fries, thick-crusted pizza, spicy nachos—you name it, I’ll eat it. Unfortunately, my favorite meal often has me scarfing the absolute worst things to put in my body at 2 a.m. Now, as a supposed grownup with a not-quite-as-fast metabolism, I wondered which foods are better choices when late-night hunger pangs strike.

According the Mayo Clinic, no particular foods help us sleep better. On the other hand, there are foods that can wreak havoc on our shut-eye. I dug around and found out which foods to avoid and which to choose to evade that next-day food hangover.

Heavy, High-Fat Meals
My beloved carne asada fries and thick-crust cheesy pizza fall into this category. These choices are bad, bad, bad if we’re looking to get a restful sleep post-feast. The cheese and oil are made of fat, which sits in our digestive tract the longest of any type of food. To push it through, our bodies require a bunch of energy—this makes it tricky to get cozy.

Fiery Food
Eating too much hot sauce or spicy chips can cause physical discomfort when it’s time to lie down—especially if you’re prone to heartburn, like me. “Spicy food also gives you an endorphin rush, making it that much harder to get to sleep,” says Lynn Smithson, a San Diego-based nutritionist. Since spiciness keeps our brains running on full power far longer than the time it takes to consume it, saving the spice-induced endorphin rush for daylight is probably a safe bet.

Caffeine
The stimulant is found in a lot more than a cup of coffee. Candy, ice cream, and especially that dark chocolate bar stashed in the freezer can contain as much as a cup of coffee does. Caffeine increases the activity of our nervous systems, keeping our thoughts racing as we lie in bed.

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Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, Insomnia,

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At DivineCaroline.com, women come together to learn from experts in the fields, of health, sustainability, and culture; to reflect on shared experiences; and to express themselves by writing and publishing stories about anything that matters to them. Here, real women publish like real pros. Together, with our staff writers, they’re discussing all facets of women’s lives from relationships and careers, to travel and healthy living. So come discover, read, learn, laugh and connect at DivineCaroline.com.

142 comments

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1:10PM PST on Feb 9, 2015

Thank you for the interesting article :)

6:21AM PST on Feb 9, 2015

I "learned my lesson" on canned soup when I was pregnant. I was swelling up like a balloon. My doctor asked, "What ARE you eating?" I replied, "I know I'm getting fat, but I've cut back about as much as I dare." "Who told you that you're getting fat?" "My husband" "Well, you AREN'T getting fat." He pushed gently on my skin and pointed out the dimple left when he removed his finger. "That's water. What are you eating? What did you have for lunch?" "Not much. Just some soup and a dill pickle." "CANNED soup? NO. And there's more sodium in that dill pickle than you should have in a whole day."

Of course, the next step was for him to tell hubby to stop telling me I'm fat. He responded with, "It's OK, pregnant women get fat." "She's NOT fat, and if you keep saying that, she could stop eating. STOP saying it. Get rid of the canned or processed food and the pickles." I dropped over 30 pounds right after birth. I had gained 40 pounds, so the doctor estimated I had actually gained 10, minus the baby etc., that is right on target... IF the edema had been better controlled.

11:58PM PST on Jan 26, 2014

great info! thanks!

4:46PM PDT on Oct 12, 2011

Thanks.

8:28PM PDT on Jun 19, 2011

thanks

2:14AM PDT on May 16, 2011

Thanks for the great info.

1:41PM PDT on May 1, 2011

Nice to know.

6:12PM PDT on Apr 27, 2011

Thanks for the info!

8:16AM PDT on Apr 24, 2011

Thank you for the info

8:02PM PDT on Apr 23, 2011

I don't even eat these foods anyways! I usually eat organic foods from Whole Foods! Well, thanks for this awesome article! :D

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