BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Well after the sun has set and the clock strikes eight or nine, a craving for sweet or salty foods often sets in, and out of habit, we may find ourselves reaching for an unhealthy nighttime snack.  

While the occasional midnight snack isn’t a bad thing, repeated late-night junk food binges can begin to affect our bodies negatively.

Experts say that eating a small, healthy snack before bed (meaning any snack under about 150 calories) is fine.

But most physicians agree that habitually consuming large amounts of food late at night can become problematic in that it often leads to bad sleep, digestive issues, unhealthy spikes in sugar, and weight gain

According to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), nearly one out of four adults in Louisiana struggles with significant weight-related health issues. 

So, what can we do to implement healthier eating habits into our late-night routines? 

Four tips are listed below: 

Eat balanced, filling meals during the day

After speaking with your doctor or dietician to make sure it’s right for you, aim to eat three full and nutritious meals along with two protein-rich snacks every day to help control cravings and keep your belly full.

Go for a walk after dinner

Try walking after you eat your last meal of the day. Even if the walk is only 15 to 20 minutes long, physical activity helps to signal the shift from dinner to other evening activities. Walking also gives your body a chance to feel the sensation of fullness.

Enjoy your nightly Netflix binge, but swap out the buttery popcorn for something else

If you like to snack on junk food while watching television at night, then try getting into the habit of doing something else while watching television. A few ways to keep your hands busy while enjoying your favorite shows include: folding laundry, grooming a pet, giving yourself a manicure, or even knitting. 

Choose a healthy late-night snack

If you’re really craving a late-night snack, don’t feel guilty about it! You can munch on balanced amounts of healthy foods that promote sleep. Foods like whole grains, kiwi, cherries, and walnuts increase serotonin and decrease the stress hormone cortisol. Many find that they allow for better sleep.

Hopefully, one or more of the above tips will come in handy for you.

Click here for more information from LDH on how Louisiana’s residents can stay healthy and fit.