Late Night Food Ideas for The Perfect Midnight Snack
One of the most common factors affecting sleep is hunger. A lot of people experience late-night snack cravings.
Whilst it is not recommended to eat big meals just before you go to bed because it could you up at night, going to bed hungry can have the same effect.
It is all about striking a balance between satisfying your hunger while not overindulging.
This article covers:
So, let's get into it.
Why Do We Get Hungry at Night?
There are several schools of thought on why a person experiences hunger pangs at night. Some researchers believe that it comes down to the body's internal clock.
It could be your circadian rhythm, which is also responsible for telling your body when to go to sleep and when to wake up, may also be prompting cravings for different foods at night.
Although there are those that believe that these cravings may be evolutionary, there are those that believe that late-night hunger cravings were designed to ensure that our ancestors got enough calories.
That being said, there is also evidence that your own eating habits and behaviours have a lot to do with your cravings too.
For example, if you routinely don't get enough calories during the day, then you are likely to experience hunger cravings at night. It is your body's way to encourage you to get your calorie allowance.
The amount of sleep that you are getting may also be the culprit. When you don't get enough sleep, the production of the hunger and fullness hormones are disrupted. This disruption leads to inconsistent hunger triggers.
If you routinely miss out on sleep, then it might explain why you experience cravings late at night.
Finally, some people snack at night because they are emotional eaters. However, emotional eating is not always as a result of stress or sadness. Instead, there are a number of things that can trigger emotional eating.
Maybe they’re snacking has nothing to do with hunger at all. It could be boredom, or it could be a reward or even a punishment. If your late-night snacking is down to emotional eating, then you might want to reconsider your relationship with food.
The Pros & Cons of Late-Night Snacking
When it comes to late-night snacking, there are both pros and cons. Firstly, there is some evidence that going to bed with food in your belly actually helps you to fall and stay asleep.
Some foods even induce sleep. In any case, it prevents hunger from waking you up.
If you frequently experience cravings for a late-night snack, then having a snack after your dinner can help to curb them, minimizing the disruption later on.
It is also thought that protein before bed can boost the metabolism and increase muscle mass which is great for athletic individuals.
Finally, not allowing yourself to eat late at night when you are hungry can be incredibly detrimental.
This restriction can snowball until you aren't allowing yourself to give in to any of your cravings. This, in turn, can negatively impact your mental health and compromise your body image.
That being said, there are also downsides to late-night snacking.
Firstly, most people are much more likely to choose unhealthy snacks that are high in sugar and fat and eating too much of these foods can be bad for your health and lead to weight gain. Giving in to these cravings can be the start of a cycle.
It can disrupt your body's hunger cues. If you snack at night, you are more likely to want to eat a smaller breakfast or skip it altogether, which pushes back your hunger cues for the day.
This means that it is likely that you will want to snack the following night and so on. Finally, depending on the foods that you choose to indulge in, you might find that you suffer from indigestion and heartburn while you are lying in bed trying to sleep.
Finding Late Night Food Delivery Near Me: What to Look For
When it comes to late-night snacking, often the food in the fridge simply won't do. You have cravings to satisfy. This means food deliveries.
However, with so many options out there, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices. So, how are you meant to choose?
Well, first things first, you need to think about what you are in the mood for. Is there a specific type of food that you are craving? Check out the menus of your options. Do they have what you are looking for or not?
When the cravings hit, you want them to be satisfied as quickly as possible. Take this into account when choosing your food delivery.
Do they have a time guarantee?
Will it take 30 minutes, 45 or maybe even an hour for your food to get to you. How long are you willing to wait?
The quicker the food comes, the hotter and fresher it will be, allowing you to enjoy it and then head to bed. The last thing you need to think about is how much money you want to spend.
If ordering food is something that you often do, then it could get expensive quickly. However, there is nothing wrong with splurging on the occasional treat.
If you are only ordering a little snack, then ask yourself if it is worth the expense. You could also look for options that offer discount codes or vouchers, which you can use to make your purchase cheaper.
Foods to Avoid When Snacking at Night
There are some foods that can help you to sleep, and there are some which can disrupt your sleep.
Although again, an occasional indulgence won't do you any harm, these foods should not be consumed at night as part of your routine. For example, there is a belief that a nightcap helps you sleep, hence the term 'nightcap' however.
At the same time, it is true that consuming alcohol can make you fall asleep more quickly, it simply ends up disrupting your sleep later in the night, and it can make it a lot harder for you to enter REM sleep.
A lot of people tend to crave starchy snacks in the evening, but starchy snacks and carbohydrates in general break down into sugars.
Ingesting too much sugar late at night can spike your glucose levels which in turn makes you feel more alert keeping you awake.
However, it can also lead to a sugar crash which can disrupt your sleep. On the flip side, eating a lot of salty food before bed can dehydrate you; this means repeated wake-ups to rehydrate and then urinate.
Eating spicy foods before bed can mean that you are more likely to experience heartburn and indigestion, the discomfort of which can keep you awake.
However, it isn't just spicy foods that can lead to this; acidic foods can too. In addition to spicy and acidic foods, simply eating too much late at night can have a similar effect. When you lie in your bed at night, gravity doesn't aid digestion anymore.
The digestive process slows down, meaning that the food sits uncomfortably on your stomach, leading to acid reflux and heartburn.
Ideas For Late Night Meals You'll Love
When it comes to making a late-night meal for yourself, it is arguably all about ease. So it needs to be quick and simple enough to make.
Occasionally, these late-night meals can be a little indulgent and made out of unhealthy foods. For example, if you are craving something sweet, then you could simply pull the ice cream out of the freezer and make yourself a sundae of sorts.
Then, use whatever you have in the cupboards to top it, like chocolate, popcorn or candy.
If you want something warm, then you could make yourself a mug cake. There is a tonne of recipes out there that you can use to create your single serving of cake in a mug.
They tend to be made up of equal parts flour and sugar, an egg and a splash of milk and oil too. You can customize them to your liking by adding chocolate or berries or topping them with ice cream or a sweet spread.
Speaking of sweet spreads, if you are prepared to do a little more work, then you could make yourself some French toast roll-ups.
Start by flattening some white bread and removing the crust, then spread your Nutella or Biscoff or whatever you have to that effect. Next, roll up the bread, dip it into your French toast mix and fry. It's as easy as that.
If you don't think that anything sweet is going to hit the spot, you'll have to go for something savoury. A grilled cheese is always a good idea. They are easy enough to make, and they should satiate your cravings. Of course, you can customize it to your preference and use whatever you have in the fridge.
In the same vein, you could make yourself a mini pizza. Again, you could use whatever you have; bread, baguettes, bagels or wraps all work well.
This is also a good way to use any leftover veggies or meat from the previous week. Once you have constructed your pizza, it needs to go under the grill or in the oven for a couple of minutes and voila.
Finally, if you don't want anything warm, then make yourself a normal sandwich. There seems to be something about a sandwich at night that just tastes better. But, again, use whatever you have; it can be as elaborate or as simple as you can be bothered to make.
The Best Ingredients for A Healthy Late-Night Meal
If you want something healthier, then you might want to reconsider the ingredients that you include in your meal. If you want something more filling but still quite healthy, then you could choose to have a bowl of cereal.
Most cereals contain high-glycemic carbohydrates, which can help you to go to sleep more quickly.
If you keep the portion size relatively small, then the snack won't be high in calories either. Milk also contains calcium which affects the production of melatonin sleep hormone.
Fruit can also make a good late-night snack. Berries, in particular, are loaded with fibre, making you feel fuller and satisfying your craving. They also contain minerals like magnesium which relaxes nerves and muscles, making it easier to fall asleep.
If you want something to go with the fruit, then you can always opt for a yoghurt. They go well together, but yoghurt is also an excellent source of calcium, which, as mentioned above, can help you to sleep.
If you can, you should avoid yoghurts with added sugar because they are simply empty calories, and sugar can keep you up too.
Fresh veggies make an excellent late-night snack too. They are often incredibly low in calories while being filling enough to satisfy your hunger.
For example, you could choose carrots, cucumber or celery. If you wanted to enhance the flavour of your veggies and the indulgence, then you could pair them with a dip. Use whatever you have or make your own using Greek yoghurt or low fat cottage cheese.
Popcorn also makes a great snack, in part because it is a high volume, low-calorie food meaning that you can eat a lot of it without going too far over your calorie allowance.
This does depend on the popcorn flavour and toppings, though. Opt for plainer flavours like sweet or salty and avoid the butter.
A similar argument could be made for nuts. They are filling, and they have a range of nutritional benefits; they are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. This can also be said for nut butters which make a great pairing with fruits. Peanut butter and apple slices make a popular snack, as do banana and almond butter.
How To Enjoy Late Night Food And Stay Healthy
When it comes to indulging your cravings and staying healthy, it is all about making the right choices. For the most part, you should avoid high-calorie foods late at night.
When it comes to creating your meal, you should avoid adding in too many extra or unnecessary calories.
For example, forgo the oil and opt for a low-calorie cooking spray. If a snack will suffice, then try to choose low-calorie options or even fruits and vegetables if you have any. This isn’t to say that you need to measure your calories daily, counting everything you eat, but a general awareness can help you to stick within your recommended allowance.
On the whole, an occasional blowout on calorific foods won’t do any long-term damage, but if you frequently find yourself indulging your cravings in this manner, your health could be compromised.
Things to Remember After Your Snack
Once you have eaten and indulged in your late-night food cravings, there are a number of things that you need to remember to do before going to bed.
Firstly, you need to put everything away. Cleaning up after yourself when you are tired and want to head to bed feels like a chore, and it is. However, if you leave food out, then it can go off overnight, leading to more waste.
Next up, the dishes. When making food late at night, you should try to limit your use of cooking utensils. This minimizes the washing up that needs doing.
After you have eaten, you should sort out all of the pots and pans that you have used. Ideally, you should wash, dry, and put them away. If that is beyond your capabilities, you should at least rinse them and put them in the sink. Waking up to a dirty and messy kitchen can cause stress.
If you have cooked, then before you go to bed, you should double-check that you have turned off the stove or oven properly.
If you’re tired, you might forget, and this could be incredibly dangerous. You should also check that you have shut your fridge and freezer too. Although leaving them open isn’t dangerous, it can lead to high bills, breakages and spoilt food.
Finally, don’t forget to brush your teeth. Some people brush their teeth early and end up eating again after. If this is the case, you really ought to brush your teeth again.
The Bottom Line
Having a snack before bed might be an occasional treat, or it might be part of your routine. Either way, it can impact your health if you approach it in the wrong way. It is about moderation.
On the whole, you should avoid snacks that are full of salt, sugar or fat because of the effects they can have not only on your overall health but on your sleep habits too. Although, a rare indulgence won’t do you any harm.
To get the latest updates on food news and great recipe ideas, sign up for our newsletter. You’ll get the latest recipes and food inspiration sent directly to your inbox.