We all know by now that early dinner is one of the best habits for good health. The downside is that once you have eaten early and are awake till late, hunger strikes again! Well, we don't recommend late-night snacking as a rule because the digestive system and the metabolism as a whole go into a rest and recovery mode at night. Our body clock (located in the brain at the suprachiasmatic nucleus) takes its cue from sunlight. It sets the circadian rhythm of our body which, in turn, affects all the bodily functions - from hormone release to immunity and to stress. So, it is advisable to not eat very late and to avoid heavy snacking at bedtime. In this article, I will address this in two parts:
- Bedtime snacking because you are awake and hungry
- Snacks for late-night shifts
(Also Read: 5 Healthy Bedtime Snacks That Can Amp Up Your Metabolism)
Here Are 6 Snacks You Can Have After Dinner And Before Bed:
The best strategy here is to keep it light and nutrient-rich rather than just sugary snacks. Eating or rather munching mindlessly will add extra calories that the body doesn't need and will convert them to fat for storage. So, both the choices and the portion or serving sizes can help you achieve health. Here are some healthy options for the late-night hunger pangs.
Milk is an ideal bedtime snack. It is nutrient-rich and has carbs, proteins, calcium and phytonutrients. It also contains tryptophan which helps in good sleep. To boost immunity drink yellow milk that is our traditional haldi milk. About 200 ml is enough.
2. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are nature's small gifts that are big on nutrients. Loaded with healthy fats, proteins, fibre and antioxidants, these provide satiety and protect against non-communicable diseases. Have one ounce or 28-30gm of nuts and seeds a day.
(Also Read: 5 Healthy Bedtime Drinks To Get A Good Night's Sleep)
3. Gajar halwa
Yes, you read that right! A homemade gajar halwa made with fresh carrots, less ghee and nuts and sugar can be a satisfying snack for the body and mind. Carrots provide fibre and beta carotene a very important antioxidant, while the ghee adds satiety along with flavour. Keep your portion for the night and stick to one small bowl full.
Soups made with fresh vegetables can be filling and a satisfying warm drink in the winter months. If you avoid the butter, they are almost calorie-free. They also bring the nourishment of the vegetable that is the base ingredient and if you have blended the vegetables and not sieved the soup they add a good amount of fibre too.
5. Bhuna chana
It is a good munch if you want something crunchy and salty. A handful is enough; they need chewing and will help you spend time eating them. In addition, the fibre, phytonutrients and proteins add health.
6. Roasted makhana
Roasted foxnuts are a healthy snack too. They are low calorie-dense, so when you eat 30gm it converts to a big bowlful and keeps you full. They are good sources of minerals and phytonutrients. But roast them, do not fry.
The thumb rule for choosing a snack is portion control and at least two nutrients other than calories.
For those working night shifts, it's easy. Have an early dinner by about 8 pm then fix two snack times and do not munch through the night.
Here Are 4 Snacks You Can Have If You Work Night Shifts:
1. Fruit with nuts
Seasonal fruit will provide calories, minerals and vitamins to keep you energise; whereas nuts and seeds add proteins and fibre to your diet and will ensure a slower release of energy keeping the calories going longer.
2. Milk with nuts and seeds
A perfect healthy combination full of proteins and nutrients, milk with nuts and seeds will keep the body fit and will prevent hunger pangs. Keep this for the hungriest time.
A smoothie with the goodness of oats' fibre, fruits' antioxidants and nuts' proteins makes it an another healthy and filling snack that goes a long way in keeping the energy up while providing nourishment.
4. Multigrain Bread Sandwich
A multigrain bread sandwich with lots of lettuce, tomatoes and paneer makes for a quite filling snack for night shift workers. Wash this down with some antioxidant-rich green tea.
Eating the right amount at the right time is the cornerstone for a healthy body. Choose fresh ingredients and keep processed to the minimum. That is all it needs to stay healthy.
Stay safe stay healthy!
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About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.