Do you feel like you’re making healthy nighttime food choices, but you wake up the next morning feeling bloated and lethargic? Here are five ways your dinners or bedtime snacks may be making it difficult for you to get out of bed, and how you can fix them.
1. You're eating dinner late at night, and loading up on with carbs and desserts.
If you spend all day looking forward to a big dinner and dessert at night, you could be causing yourself to wake up in the mornings feeling like you barely slept! That's because big meals close to bedtime keep your body distracted from digesting food, instead of focused on getting deep, quality sleep, said Dawn Jackson Blatner, registered dietitian and author of "Superfood Swap".
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Instead, eat a small serving of protein, and if you’re craving carbs, switch to a sweet potato instead of mashed potatoes or fries. The sweet potatoes contain sleep-promoting complex carbohydrates and fiber, which can help keep you fuller and possibly reduce cravings for sugary desserts.
2. You're eating too much of the sweet stuff.
If you’re eating a box of cookies for dessert because you’re craving something sweet, keep in mind this can lead to a food hangover in the morning.
“Refined, processed and sugary carbs are empty calories,” said Blatner. They zap all of your energy to digest them, but give you nothing in return, which can leave your body depleted of nutrients. This leads to feeling sluggish and rundown in the morning. Instead, try a piece of whole-grain toast with a little almond butter.
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3. You're eating a lot of chicken and other “healthy” proteins.
While lean meats are very healthy, they can be problematic when eaten too close to bedtime. “Protein takes the longest of any food group to digest, so too much of it will make your body work too hard and not be relaxed enough to get a good night’s sleep," Blatner said.
Instead, focus on smaller, protein-filled meals throughout the day. That way, you’ll be less hungry at night and less likely to overeat (even the healthy stuff!).
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4. You're eating too much fruit.
A lot of fruit all at once can spike blood-sugar levels and can be a concern if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Too much sugar can also cause a stomachache. Instead, eat a handful of cherries or a banana. Cherries contain high levels of phytochemicals including melatonin, which can help enhance sleep quality.
Bananas are a great choice to because they contain natural muscle-relaxants magnesium and potassium, which can help with overall relaxation. A more restful night’s sleep ensures a more energized YOU in the morning!
5. You're drinking orange juice, coffee or an alcoholic "nightcap."
If you drink a glass of juice before bed and are already prone to acid reflux, you may find a cup of orange juice can make you feel uncomfortable after you get into bed. Another culprit that can impede sleep and leave you feeling less energized in the morning is coffee after 2 p.m. Even decaf coffee can have some caffeine. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it’ll keep you from getting deep sleep. So make it a rule to not drink caffeine after 12 p.m.
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While alcohol can help you fall asleep, the quality of sleep suffers due to the fact that alcohol is a toxin. “Instead of getting a good night’s sleep, your body has to work to metabolize the alcohol," Blatner said.
Replace those beverages with some tea, like chamomile or mint tea, which can help with digestion.
Remember to look at your nighttime snack as a well-balanced mini meal. Blatner suggested an apple and almonds or yogurt and berries. Keep your snacks at around 150 calories. Including a little protein with a fruit or vegetable will help you feel full without disrupting your sleep cycle, and leave you feeling lighter and more energized when you wake up.
Stephanie Mansour is a weight loss and lifestyle coach for women. Join her weight-loss challenge!