10 Foods to Avoid Before Bed and Healthy Alternatives

It’s late at night and you’re about to go to sleep, but a snack before bed just sounds so good. Studies have proven that munching before bed can cause weight gain and restlessness, but don’t lose hope! Don’t go to bed hungry anymore. The Front Door has compiled a list of the delicious foods to avoid before bed as well as a healthier alternative. Happy snacking!

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1. Wine and Alcohol

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A glass of red wine before bed might seem like it can help you relax and fall asleep faster, but it actually will prevent your body from experiencing REM. Alcohol can cause you to wake up multiple times throughout the night, so skip the drinking!

Instead: Drink skim milk. Milk contains an amino acid called tryptophan and the hormone melatonin that induce sleep.

2. Coffee and Soda

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It’s no surprise that caffeinated drinks are bad before bedtime, and for good reason. Caffeine can stimulate the central nervous system for hours after consumption and leave you wide awake and restless.

Instead: Drink tea. Teas like valerian tea, hop tea, and lemon balm tea act as sedatives that will make you drowsy and calm before drifting off. Tea also helps combat anxiety and reduces levels of sleeping disorders. But stay away from green tea! Green tea can give you an energy boost and make it difficult to lower your heart rate before resting.

3. Ice Cream

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Late-night ice cream in bed is always a favorite, but ice cream is loaded with fat, making it one of the top foods to avoid before bed. You’re not going to burn any of it off before you fall asleep and all the excess sugar is going to give you energy.

Instead: Eat cottage cheese or low-fat Greek yogurt for your dairy fix. Cottage cheese is rich in protein that will keep hunger from striking throughout the night while low-fat Greek yogurt is great for settling your stomach and isn’t high in calories.

4. High-Sugar Cereals

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A bowl of cereal is an easy meal, but your favorite brands will make your blood sugar spike and crash—making it hard to sleep.

Instead: Don’t skip out on cereal; just choose something healthier. Fortified cereal like granola and brands with whole-grain along with skim milk will satisfy your hunger without being unhealthy.

5. Spicy Foods and Hot Peppers

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Spicy food and hot peppers are good for getting your metabolism pumping, but they won’t do much good for helping you fall asleep. Spicy foods can also trigger heartburn and increase body temperature, making it hard to stay asleep.

Instead: Enjoy a bowl of vegetable soup. Vegetables like carrots and cauliflower are full of healthy plant chemicals and low in carbohydrates, making soup a great alternative.

6. Cheeseburger or Steak

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You might think a high-protein dinner will keep you full at night, but it can actually lead to sleep disturbances. Heavy meats are one of the main foods to avoid before bed because they can cause you indigestion and acid reflux since you’ll be lying down with a full stomach.

Instead: Eat turkey. Turkey meat is a good source of tryptophan, which makes you sleepy and is a much leaner meat that will be a healthier source of protein before bed.

7. Pretzels and Chips

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Skip the salty snacks! Pretzels and chips are full of salt and carbohydrates and the calories won’t be burned off right before bed.

Instead: Snack on sweet potato fries or lightly salted popcorn. These low-calorie snacks will give you your salt fix and fill up your stomach without providing excess carbohydrates.

8. Chocolate

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Just like coffee, chocolate contains caffeine that will keep you up at night. Chocolate can increase arousal and decrease your ability to develop and sustain stages of sleep.

Instead: Eat an apple with peanut butter. This delicious snack is nutritious and full of protein that will fill you up before bed and satisfy that sweet tooth craving you have.

9. Fruit Juice

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It doesn’t matter what flavor, fruit juice contains a lot of sugars with no fiber to allow for an insulin release. By drinking juice, you might cause your blood sugar to spike during the night or give yourself heartburn due to the acidity.

Instead: Munch on cherries, bananas, or apricots. Natural fruits such as these are full of melatonin that will put you to sleep and contain natural sugars that will digest better in your body.

10. Pasta or Pizza

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Pasta and pizza might be one of the most craved nighttime foods, but don’t indulge on Italian, as these are foods to avoid before bed. If you are going to enjoy pasta or pizza, make sure you eat them earlier in the day since they are full of calories, carbohydrates, and saturated fats that your body won’t be able to digest before bed.

Instead: Have a couple of hard-boiled eggs. These are full of protein that will fill you up without a ton of excess calories.

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