Thirst often mimics hunger pangs, so before you reach for a box of treats from your fridge or cupboard, hydrate yourself with a cup or two of water. You can even flavor it with sliced lemon or lime (both of which have detoxifying properties). Wait 10 minutes, and if your stomach is still grumbling, opt for a healthy snack or drink.
Low in calories and fat, milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps lull you into a deep sleep. Essentially, tryptophan is responsible for increasing the production of serotonin in the body; serotonin helps you feel sleepy. As an added bonus, the calcium and vitamin D in that cup of milk can boost the health of your bones.
Rich in antioxidants, nuts are a great nighttime nosh. Because nuts are full of fiber, they'll help you feel full longer and keep you from waking up before dawn with a hungry tummy. These nutritious nibbles also help regulate blood sugar and promote serotonin production in the body. Instead of grabbing a high-sugar snack, which can disturb your sleep, reach for a handful of your favorite nuts.
A whole grain, popcorn is the go-to snack when you're midnight cravings demand something a little salty. Not only is popcorn a good source of complex carbs, it's also low in calories (no dousing the kernels in butter, please). What's more, because it's low in fat, you won't wake up feeling bloated or with a tummyache. Just go easy on the salt.
This may not seem like the most appetizing midnight snack, but vegetables are great for late-night noshing for several diet-friendly reasons. Veggies are full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that your body can use to heal and nourish itself overnight, and they're full of water, so you'll feel less dehydrated when you wake up. What's more, vegetables are low in calories and fat, so you don't have to worry about consuming too much.
Like milk, foods loaded with carbohydrates help raise blood levels of tryptophan (the acid that promotes serotonin production). But be warned: Processed carbs, like pasta, chips and white bread, cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which may cause your sleep to be less restful. Grab whole grains like oatmeal, high-fiber cold cereal or whole-grain toast, then get to bed.
Lean protein is not only a building block for your muscles but will also keep you feeling fuller longer without widening your waistline. Lean sources of meat are lower in calories than some carbohydrate- or fat-rich foods. So if you're craving something before you roll into the sack, nibble on a few slices of turkey or even low-fat cheese to tide you over until morning.
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