Healthy Swap Outs
After compiling this list, it seemed that pretty much all my midnight snacks were covered in the “don’t” category. But feeling hungry can keep us wake, too, which is why eating a light snack is a smart choice before hitting the sack. “You’re going eight hours without eating, which is a really long time to go without giving your body any fuel,” says Jenny Geyser, a personal trainer in San Diego. While we should try to leave at least four hours between the last large meal and bedtime, something small and easily digestible can be a sensible choice before bedtime (woohoo!).
- Switch the large, high fat pizza for a ham and grilled cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread. There’s still a hint of cheese, but not so much that will make digestion terribly uncomfortable. Plus, the whole-wheat toast digests easily and quickly.
- Switch the spicy chips for whole-wheat pretzels dipped in mild chipotle salsa. Subbing deep fried, fatty chips for more nutritious and quick-digesting crunchy pretzels satisfies the taste craving for crunchy and smoky.
- Switch caffeine-packed dark chocolate for a homemade sweet snack. Grab some chocolate graham crackers and spread them with some all-natural jam or a smidge of peanut butter. While not totally all natural or sugar-free, it satisfies the sweet tooth and gives us some fruit and protein.
- Switch cheap Chinese and other artificial foods for homemade leftovers or a quality frozen meal. In hopes of creating a better alternative, I’ve started freezing leftovers, so I have a more natural (and cheap) option waiting for me. There are also more good frozen meal choices out there lately—Amy’s Organics are some of my faves.
- Switch sugary cereal for a more wholesome one. There are a lot of healthy cereals out there that taste like cardboard, but others are truly great and satisfying—Kashi has a whole line of low sugar, wholesome, higher protein cereals that don’t taste like healthy fare. Top them with a little fruit and you have comfort, quick digestion, and even a sweet taste to finish it off. See 10 Healthiest Breakfast Cereals.
- Switch red meat and beans for turkey or ham. If it’s protein you’re craving, the key is eating small portions and lean cuts. While protein does take longer to digest than carbs, I’m not going to deny myself if it’s what I want. I’ve found that if I keep it light and low fat, I don’t develop any kind of stomachache and wake up feeling great.
- Switch canned soup for homemade soup or organic canned soup. If you’re the cooking type, make a huge batch from scratch and freeze portions in microwave-ready containers. If not, there are good brands of organic, preservative-free soups in most stores, too. Just beware of sodium and unpronounceable ingredients—try different ones until you find your preference.
Even though I was bummed when compiling the sleep-harming foods list, it really just takes a little shift in thinking to take my late-night snacks from undergrad to grownup. Here’s to catching some more ZZZs this week. Now, pass the salsa, please.