Why Eating Late at Night Isn’t Bad For You, Plus 5 Things to Eat After Hours

Our mothers scolded us after turning on the light in the kitchen to find us face-deep in a bowl of ice cream. Everyone knows that “mother knows best,” and in this situation, they were.

But then there are those nights when we truly are hungry, those nights when we realized a 5 p.m. dinner just wasn’t going to cut it.

And so, that great myth that you shouldn’t eat after 7 p.m.? Not valid. Here’s why:

In this Women’s Health article, nutritionist Jaime Mass, M.S., R.D., L.D./N., says it best: “A calorie is a calorie.” She explains that your body doesn’t really have a cut-off period for calorie consumption, and what that means is that no, you shouldn’t ban yourself from food after a certain time—when you’re hungry.

The main issue with late-night eating is that it is often associated with poor choices in food and in large portions. Perhaps it stems from the mound of buttered popcorn at nightly movies or the excitement of sharing gossip over gummy worms and chocolate bars at sleepovers as a child. Either way, late-night eating has gotten a bad rep, and it’s time for the stigma to disappear.

A large part of keeping yourself healthy is to ensure that you’re getting what you need calorically, nutritionally, etc. every day without going over or under the limits. Listen to your body. By now you should know that eating slowly helps you to determine if you’re getting enough. If you’re still genuinely hungry after dinner, even after having a full glass of water, eat—you clearly need it.

Here are my favorite five healthy late-night snacks:

Carrots because you can basically eat an entire bag without digging yourself a caloric hole, and because its fibers take a while to digest, filling you up. Go veggies.

Whole wheat crackers and apple butter because the combination of carbs is one that, again, fills you up quickly while having great nutritional content. It’s a great snack if you’re craving something a little sweet.

Greek yogurt because, despite my particular distaste for yogurt, it’s a really good snack at any time of the day. Just be sure to keep your portion to half a cup.

Dark chocolate because the combination of chocolate cravings and a healthy diet is the reason for the phrase “the struggle is real.” Don’t deprive yourself—find good-quality dark chocolate and partake in a square or two.

Frozen grapes because it acts as a frozen treat while keeping your nutrition in check. The grapes taste sweeter in the fridge so they curb your sweet tooth. Make sure to, of course, portion these. Grapes have a higher amount of sugar, so you don’t want to eat more than a cup.

Any thoughts on favorite late night snacks? Comment below!

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