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what are best snacks for late night craving

By July 13, 2009 - 9:34pm
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Hi, Staling1s, and welcome to EmpowHer! What a great question.

Late-night cravings are tough, aren't they? They sometimes seem much stronger than daytime snack cravings, and we know we shouldn't be eating at night. Our bodies use that down time to digest the day's food and rest up for the next day.

Are you an insomniac, up late because you can't sleep? Or is this just before-bed cravings because you're watching TV and want something to munch on?

I could make you lists of healthy foods, but you know what those are. Instead of doing that, I'm going to turn the question around. What are you craving, exactly? Because if you know what you're craving, then you can figure out what might satisfy that craving without totally screwing up your day/night. You can find a better version for each specific craving.

Here's what I mean by that. If you know you constantly crave chocolate, then it would be foolish for me to tell you to eat a small bowl of popcorn, because at the end of the bowl of popcorn, you're still going to be craving chocolate. It's better for you to say, OK, what I really want is potato chips and dip, so what I'll have instead is carrot/celery sticks and low-fat ranch dressing. In other words, to find your own healthier substitute for whatever it is you're wanting.

When you're craving a snack, are you hungry? Or just munching? Because if you're hungry, focus on protein -- a glass of milk, some leftover bites of grilled chicken, some hummus on triangles of whole-wheat pita or tortilla, things like that. They will be more satisfying and generally not involve as many calories. The other part about realizing whether it's hunger is this -- if you're hungry, genuinely hungry, snacks won't do it. You can eat cookies and chips all night and still be hungrier than if you ate a good portion of lean protein.

Cereal is a good substitute for a lot of snacks. Have you seen the Special K commercial where the woman is looking at the chocolate ice cream in the freezer, but then remembers she has chocolaty Special K? A bowl of cereal that's got chocolate bits in it, along with cold milk, can be very satisfying late at night, and still be light. You could try fat-free puddings -- there are a couple dozen kinds now, and at about 60 calories each, it's not going to kill anyone's diet plan if they splurge on a couple late at night. And they satisfy that cool, creamy craving that is sending you toward the ice cream.

What you mostly do NOT want at night is either fatty stuff or just sheer bulk. You don't want to eat a whole bag of chips, you don't want to eat the whole pint of ice cream. Your metabolism naturally slows down in the evening, so fatty or caloric items carry a double wallop at night.

And another thing you can try to do is find something else to do with your hands. For me, I think half of the late-night snacking has to do with food and half of it has to do with my idle hands. I notice that when I have a piece of needlework in progress that I work on while I watch tv, I naturally eat fewer snacks.

And, LOL, don't watch the Food Channel! It's a killer!!!

July 16, 2009 - 8:22am
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