3 Things to Eat - and 3 Things Not to Eat Before Bed
By: Alexis Supan RD • Posted on April 03, 2023
A nighttime snack is a beloved thing by many people. Whether it’s milk and cookies, popcorn, or a nightcap, many of us have a favorite treat before bed. Choosing the right food or drink before bed is an important part of a healthy, daily routine.
Before we review the healthy options, we must discuss timing. Timing is everything with evening eating. Nothing should be eaten within 2-3 hours of going to bed, as anything closer can cause disruptions to our sleep. So, for any food or drinks below, give yourself time between eating them and laying down.
Here are three great things to have before bed, and three things you’ll want to avoid.
What to Eat or Drink
1. A Soothing, Caffeine-Free Drink
A cup of tea can be an excellent late-night option. The right cup of tea does not add any undesired calories to your day and can even help improve sleep. Passionflower, lavender, and Valerian Root teas are great options for helping aid sleep. Check out the bedtime tea blends too, as they often contain a mix of all of these herbs.
Golden milk is also a smart option for a late-night drink. Packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients, it can be the perfect choice for anyone looking to boost their antioxidants or lessen chronic pain.
2. A Filling Dinner
A filling dinner is an important thing to have every evening, as it will keep you satisfied so you don’t get too hungry and make poor food choices. A meal that contains a healthy, lean protein is a good option as protein provides a long-lasting feeling of fullness. Healthy lean proteins include fish, tofu, white meat poultry and beans.
3. Nuts and Seeds
Most nuts and seeds contain magnesium (a mineral) and melatonin (a natural hormone). Both of these sleep-promoting compounds can be found in unsalted pumpkin seeds, almonds, pistachios and walnuts, making them all great choices for an evening snack. Nuts and seeds are a calorie dense food so it is important to stick to just one serving. Portion out a small handful – roughly ¼ cup – and enjoy!
What Not to Eat or Drink
1. A snack out of a bag, box or container
Late night snacks are often chosen to satisfy our cravings. While having a snack to satisfy a craving is okay, eating too many servings can be detrimental to your health. A smart way to help control portions is to never allow yourself to eat foods out of multiple-serving containers, but to instead put everything on a small plate or in a small bowl.
While it can seem like alcohol helps with falling asleep, it can lead to poor sleep quality. Instead of a nightcap before bed consider a glass of red wine with dinner.
It’s no surprise that eating sweets at night is unhealthy. While most of us know it can be a poor choice for someone trying to lose weight, many don’t know it can also disrupt sleep. Sugar is shown to have a connection to poor sleep quality and insomnia.
Instead of trying to avoid all sweets and then giving in at night, allow yourself a smart option, such as an ounce of dark chocolate covered almonds or these Oatmeal Maple and Raisin cookies after dinner.
Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!
Alexis Supan, MPH, RD
About Alexis Supan, MPH, RD
Alexis Supan, MPH, RD earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from The Ohio State University and became a dietitian in 2009. She has also earned a Master of Public Health degree from Case Western Reserve University. Alexis enjoys talking about food and nutrition with both patients and colleagues. She is passionate about educating others on how to make realistic and sustainable changes that can help improve their health and quality of life. She currently splits her time between seeing patients individually and speaking to groups on specific health and nutrition concerns or interests they have.
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