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food before bed nutrition

Hunger pangs before bed: To eat or not to eat?

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 food before bedPhoto: Shutterstock

Feeling hunger pangs before heading to bed is a common feeling, but it puts you in a dilemma: To eat or not to eat?


There is general consensus that eating before bed isn’t a great idea, though you wouldn’t want your stomach to growl while you’re trying to sleep either.

Others might tell you that your body doesn’t digest food well right before bed, when in fact, your body continues to digest food even while you’re asleep – just at a slower rate. With that in mind, you could have a light snack before bed to curb your hunger without sabotaging your healthy diet.

However, you should avoid eating anything that is spicy, caffeinated, or contains high fat or sugar content. Try to have a low-calorie snack that is high in volume, to avoid going over your daily calorie limit. In general, try to keep your pre-bedtime snacks to a 100 to 200 calorie limit.

Here are some snack ideas for eating before bed:

Cereal and milk

High-fibre cereals in particular help you to feel full more easily, and are a healthy option to chips or crackers if you’re looking to have something that provides a crunch. Mix it with low-fat or unsweetened milk and you have a healthy pre-bedtime snack.

food before bedPhoto: Shutterstock


Fruits
Fruits are juicy, refreshing, low in calories and high in fibre – it’s the perfect snack before bed. When you’re craving something sweet, a whole apple, pear, banana, grapes or berries are all great sources of natural sweetness. Top it up with low-fat yogurt or a nut butter to make your snack more interesting.

Greek yogurt

A low-fat dairy product such as yogurt makes a good high-protein snack – protein-rich food moves more slowly along the digestive tract, keeping you satiated for longer. If Greek yogurt alone seems boring, mix it up with some fresh fruits like papaya or banana slices, or healthy nuts like almonds.

food before bedPhoto: Shutterstock


Dark chocolate
Milk chocolate would be great to satisfy a sweet tooth, but dark chocolate is a much healthier option for pre-bedtime – containing less sugar and more antioxidants.

Pistachios
Containing fibre, protein and healthy fats, pistachios are a great snack to help satisfy late night hunger pangs. Pistachios also contain vitamin B6, which your body needs to make serotonin, and could help you sleep better for the rest of the night.

Vegetable sticks
Vegetables are always a healthy snack option – having raw carrots, celery, bell peppers, and cucumbers only chalks up 25 to 50 calories, but they’re able to satisfy your hunger. Additionally, the vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that give you a health boost. Hummus or fat-free salad dressing is also great to boost the flavour of the vegetables as a low- or reduced-calorie dip.

Spend some time sitting up or standing up to reduce the risk of indigestion and acid reflux after having your late-night snack. Then, enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep without the feeling of hunger bothering you.
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