Late Night Snacking – The good, the bad and the healthy!

Late night snackingby Rebecca DaSilva, R.D., Beaumont Weight Control Center

We’ve all heard it before – “ It’s not good to eat after 7 p.m.” “Snacking at night will make you gain weight.” While there is some truth to the idea that snacking after dinner can be harmful to your waistline, if done correctly and under the right circumstances, having an evening nosh can be beneficial at times. Check out the good and bad of late-night snacking below to see if what you are munching after dinner is helpful or harmful.

The Bad

  • Eating mindlessly – if you are munching while watching TV, chances are you are not paying attention to portion sizes and could be downing more empty calories than planned
  • Eating right out of the bag/box – grabbing handfuls of snacks out of the box/bag they came in can lead you eating more than you think because you do not have a visual on exactly how much you have already consumed

  • Munching on high sugar/high fat snacks – sweets and salty-crunchy snacks seem to be a go-to late night snack, mostly because of convenience and their  “comforting” effects, however, these are usually very high in calories, fat, and sugar, not to mention how highly processed these types of goodies are
  • Going to bed early – if you are eating dinner, then soon after having a snack while dozing off in bed, the excess calories you are consuming are not going to be burned as efficiently as if you were eating earlier in the day

The Good

  • If you are a night owl – dining before 7 p.m., and perhaps having a snack around 8-9p.m. is no big deal if you are up and active until later in the evening- if you are studying, working, doing laundry, housework, or anything where you are mentally or physically active, then your evening nosh will be providing you energy to do these tasks and will most likely be burned off in the later hours you are awake
  • Controlling calories – if you are keeping the total calories of your snack between 100 and 200 calories, then a snack can be beneficial without breaking your calorie bank
  • Eating whole foods – having fresh fruit or vegetables, yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, hummus, etc. will ensure you are having a snack that will have good nutritional content, and be “worth” the calories you are consuming
  • Practice portioning – if you are sticking to correct serving sizes and putting your portion on a plate, then you will be mentally satisfied as well as physically satisfied with the amount chosen.

Moral of the story? Snack smart folks, if you want your late-night nibble to be nutritionally beneficial instead of hurting your waistline!

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