If you’re a parent of a teen, you know that late night snacks can become part of the evening routine. These 5 healthy late night snacks will help your teen stay on track with a healthy diet.
As the mom of teens (and now young adults), I know that snacks for teens can be a bone of contention. Nearly every night, my 18 year old son comes downstairs for a pre-bedtime snack. And if I’m to be honest, it’s not always a “healthy snack.”
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Why teens eat late at night
- The potential consequences of late night snacking
- Five healthy late night snacks to have on hand for your teen
Why Do Teens Eat Late Night Snacks?
The number one reason for late night snacking is hunger. You and I know that teenagers are growing at a rapid pace due to the growth spurt. And all this growth produces an uptick in appetite and more hunger.
The second reason is that teens may not be eating enough during the day. It’s not uncommon for teens to skip breakfast, light-load on lunch (especially girls), which can encourage hunger later in the day. And, hence, late night snacking.
Late night snacks may also be tied to a habit that has developed over time. For example, if your teen does homework in his room, taking a break may involve changing the scenery by coming downstairs to the kitchen, and grabbing something to eat. Over time, this can be the habit or routine.
Last, snacking at night can be due to boredom. Contrary to eating because one is hungry, eating out of boredom or emotions, also known as Eating in the Absence of Hunger, is associated with being disconnected to one’s appetite cues and overeating.
Late Night Snacks: What are the Consequences?
Snacking in the evening can have a few consequences. The most recognizable one is unwanted weight gain.
Eating late at night, and then going to bed, doesn’t give the body a chance to metabolize (or burn) the calories that were consumed. If the snacks contribute more energy than the body needs, over time, weight gain can happen.
Obviously, this can be a useful strategy for the skinny kid who needs to gain weight. But, also problematic someone who is in a healthy place.
Another consequence that I can see is the decline in the quality of the diet. This can happen when snack foods include sweets or treats which may add extra added sugar and fat to the overall diet.
So, what your teen chooses to snack on, and how much he eats, can make late night snacks problematic or a healthy addition to his diet.
Guidelines for Choosing Late Night Snacks
There are several healthy snack foods when the late night munchies come calling. I’ve outlined some that I have around my house, but this is not a an exhaustive list. Use the following rules of thumb when deciding what to have on hand for your teen:
- Snacks are nutrient-rich (has noticeable quality and quantity of nutrients).
- The higher the calorie content of the snack, the more attention to proper portion sizes.
- They are easy to grab and eat.
5 Healthy Late Nights Snacks for Teens
Here are my favorite snacks to have on hand:
Pop on the stovetop or in the microwave. A crunchy, salty and satisfying snack! Want to know what is the healthiest popcorn? I’ve reviewed 9 microwave popcorn brands to help you!
2. All-fruit popsicles
I like to munch on these myself in the evenings when I get a hankering to snack. All-fruit popsicles tend to be low in calories, sweet and slow to eat. Want to add them to your shopping list? I’ve reviewed the healthiest popsicles in the grocery store to guide your selection.
3. Low sugar cereal with milk
There’s nothing like a bowl of cereal before going to bed. You can count on it being nutritious as long as you target the low sugar versions. Here are 17 of the best cereals for kids (and there’s a list you can print).
4. Frozen fruit
Grapes, cherries and mango are all delicious snacks, especially when they’re frozen. I keep a stock of bagged frozen fruit from the grocery store in my freezer, or I’ve frozen trays of raspberries or green seedless grapes. They’re a great option for a healthy late night snack.
5. Homemade soda
I know some teens want a flavorful drink, and are perfectly satisfied with sipping their snack. But opting for a sugary soda late at night isn’t a good idea. Instead, try making a healthier version of soda by mixing 100% fruit juice with sparkling water or club soda. I’ve got 5 homemade soda ideas to spark your creativity.
Need More Help with Snacks for Teens?
What’s your teens favorite healthy late night snack?