Skinny Hacks for Healthy Midnight Snacks

What to eat when you've got a case of the late-night the munchies.

Even a whole day’s worth of healthy eating habits can be undone by a post-party snack-a-thon. Try these tips to help you make food choices you’ll still feel good about the morning after.

Pay attention to your habits:
What do you tend to reach for that you later end up wishing you hadn’t? Maybe it’s the chips eaten at the kitchen counter, the ice cream straight out of the carton, or the jar of peanut butter you attack with a spoon. Or your challenge might be stopping into a convenience store on your way home from the bar or making unhealthy choices when you hit up the late night diner with your friends after a concert. Whatever it is, identify the choices you make that you don’t feel so great about the next day. Now you know what you need to change.

Plan ahead:
Don’t go out starving. Trying to “save” calories will only backfire. Remember in Knocked Up when Kathrine Heigl’s character got really drunk really fast because she hadn’t eaten all day? That happens in real life. When your inhibitions are lower, you’re likely to be less discerning about what you eat.

To avoid regrettable food decisions after-hours, don’t bring food into the house that you don’t want to eat. Stock up on healthy options that satisfy your most common cravings. For example:

  • If you’re craving something crunchy, try nuts; a bowl of whole grain (non-sugary) cereal with low-fat milk; popcorn; or sliced vegetables with hummus.
  • If you’re craving, something creamy, reach for plain Greek yogurt and stir in some cinnamon, a tablespoon of coconut flour, and a tablespoon of cocoa powder. Or try a sliced banana with a teaspoon of nut butter, or ½ an avocado with a dash of sea salt.
  • If you’re craving something sweet, add a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup to plain yogurt; spread 1 slice of toast with PB and jelly; or reach for a favorite protein bar, such as Kind, Lara, or Chia Warrior.
  • If you’re craving something salty, try ¼ cup of salted almonds or dry-roasted edamame. Single-serving cheese sticks are also a great choice, which you can pair with ½ cup of grapes or a few whole grain crackers.
  • If you’re craving something savory, make a few turkey rolls-ups or enjoy a hard-boiled egg or piece of cheese. A slice of toast with tomato and cheese is also a great way to feed your late-night pizza-tooth.
  • If you’re craving something unusual, try my personal weird-is-good favorite: a steamed sweet potato with a teaspoon each of peanut butter and jelly.

Make it convenient:
It can be all too easy to find your way to the bottom of a bag of chips or box of cereal when you’re buzzed or sleepy. Portions still count after midnight, so make it easy to keep things in check.

Pre-portion out items that come in large containers such as whole-grain crackers, cereal, nuts, and the likes to prevent having to practice self-control. Store in the cabinet or fridge in an easy-to-reach place. You can even go the extra step to place a snack for yourself on the counter or next to your bed so you have something healthy to stumble home to.

If you struggle with making healthy choices while out, scope out the menu and make a mental note of some healthy options — or even note them in your phone. For example, at a diner, scrambled eggs and whole grain toast is a decent choice. Having healthy options in mind ahead of time can help give you push you need to go with something you’ll feel good about.

Not sure where the evening will take you? Stash some nuts, trail mix, a jerky stick, or a protein bar in your purse so you’re prepared.

If you’re eating at home, chose your healthy fare, and then step away from the fridge. Sit down at a table and eat without distractions instead. It helps the brain and body register the fact that you’re eating something.

READ MORE: Healthy Hacks: 12 Snacks You Can Eat At Your Desk

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