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What Should I Eat Before Going To Bed During Pregnancy?
Eating during pregnancy can be a challenge. Although you are “eating for two,” that doesn’t mean you should eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Not only is maintaining a healthy diet essential but what you eat -- and when -- can have a significant effect on how you feel.
Case in point? Eating before bed. Although you might be hungry for a snack before turning in for the night, what you choose to nosh on can mean the difference between a restful night’s sleep or waking up with heartburn, sour stomach, and other digestive discomforts.
Sleeping while pregnant can be challenging enough, finding a comfortable position with your growing belly and the aches and pains that come with it, so there’s no need to make things worse by heading to bed with a belly full of spicy hot wings.
But what should you snack on -- and when?
How to avoid pregnancy sleep discomforts
One of the most common complaints among pregnant women in the later stages of pregnancy is heartburn. The uncomfortable burning sensation in your chest and throat is caused by stomach acid moving up into your oesophagus, brought on by the pressure of your baby on your digestive system and the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy. Although this is a normal occurrence that’s to be expected, the food you eat can worsen the discomfort.
In general, pregnant women should avoid fried or spicy foods, at least right before bed. If you choose those foods, it’s best to have them earlier in the day, so you have time to digest before bed. Drinking caffeinated and carbonated beverages can also worsen heartburn (and caffeine can keep you up at night on its own), so it’s best to avoid them within a few hours of bedtime.
But what can I eat?
Avoiding foods that can cause heartburn is only part of the equation when eating before bed when you’re pregnant. If you’re hungry, you may have trouble sleeping -- and you’re likely to wake up feeling famished and cranky.
The key to eating a nighttime snack is to keep it small (going to bed uncomfortably full is just as bad as going to bed hungry, and a recipe for digestive discomfort) and choose a lean, protein-rich snack that will curb hunger for longer. Protein takes longer to digest and metabolize than carbohydrates, so you’re less likely to awaken in a few hours feeling hungry again.
In simpler terms, this means bypassing the cookies and candy and choosing healthier options that are heavy on protein.
Some good choices include:
- A small banana with a dollop of peanut butter (bananas are high in potassium, too, which can help keep those nighttime leg cramps at bay).
- Half a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread (turkey also contains tryptophan, which might help you fall asleep faster). String cheese.
- A few whole-grain crackers with cheese or peanut butter.
- A cup of low-fat, sugar-free yoghurt. Greek yoghurt has plenty of protein, and you can add some sugar-free granola or some berries for flavour.
- A handful of nuts (almonds are a great choice -- they can help you fall asleep faster!)
- Eggs. Snack on a boiled egg or two for a quick protein boost that will stave off hunger all night.
What if I have cravings
If you are craving something salty and crunchy, try some air-popped popcorn made with coconut oil and a sprinkle of salt. Skip the microwave popcorn, though, which is loaded with fat and salt, which can make you feel more uncomfortable. Better yet? Munch on a handful of fresh veggies with some hummus, for a nutrient and protein-packed snack that won’t keep you awake.
The best way to manage your late-night cravings is to eat regularly -- and healthfully -- throughout the day. Eating multiple small meals throughout the day, rather than a few larger meals, can help keep your hormones balanced and reduce your cravings, while also helping you feel fuller for longer.
Give yourself time to digest
That said if you do decide to have a nighttime snack, try to eat about two hours before you go to bed. This allows time for the food to digest and reduces your risk of heartburn. It can also keep your blood sugar and hormones regulated, reducing late-night temptations and hunger pangs.
In time, regulating your eating schedule and staying consistent can help you avoid late-night overindulgences, get better sleep, and help you maintain a healthier, happier pregnancy.
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