Bedtime snack for a diabetic who gets hungry at night?
May 21, 2017 5:29 PM   Subscribe

I cannot sleep when I'm feeling hungry. I often get hungry at night -- not just "oh, my stomach's a little growly" but "I need to eat something NOW" hungry. I would just eat a granola bar or something, except for the complication of type-II diabetes. I don't want to raise my blood sugar too much, but like I said, can't sleep if I'm hungry. Fellow diabetics, what snack recommendations do you have?
posted by sarcasticah to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
My mom is a huge proponent of night cheese. Also any kind of salami/cured meat thing where a little bit is a lot of flavor. She also does this thing where she'll portion leftovers for her and my dad for full meals and then make a couple teeny tiny portions of nighttime snacks with the remaining amounts, all ready to go. When I first visited after she started doing this and tried to raid the fridge I was very perplexed by the teeny tiny portion of meatloaf until she explained. She says she tried to get into hard boiled eggs, which is my preferred nighttime protein snack and one thing her doctor suggested, but she just doesn't like eggs enough for that.
posted by Mizu at 5:36 PM on May 21, 2017 [13 favorites]

Cheese and kosher pickles. Or 5 olives and three thin slices of salami.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:45 PM on May 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Anything low carb, higher protein would be ideal (protein is the most satiating macro-nutrient, followed by fat, then carb). As already suggested, cheese is great. Lean meats. Jerky. Nuts. Eggs.

(Not a diabetic, but a dietetics student.)
posted by Defying Gravity at 5:46 PM on May 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

My wife is Type 1, and often will have a bit of almond butter before bed.
posted by primethyme at 6:03 PM on May 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

My husband usually has a smallish handful of nuts before bed.
posted by heathrowga at 6:24 PM on May 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Not a diabetic, but I eat like one (keto diet). Cheese strings are awesome for this, already pre-packaged and ready to go. A couple slices of deli meat. Pepperoni sticks. A handful of almonds.
posted by cgg at 6:26 PM on May 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

Actually it is high fiber, with a protein component. The high fiber in a no sugar slice of whole grain bread, and a coupla ounces of meat of cheese, with fluid, is recommended for people with diabetes as an evening snack. They say that the brain is the largest consumer of carbohydrates in the body, and the brain controls everything. It is possible for the brain to run out of sugar at night, and give the sleeper night terrors, to make the liver break down other materials to make sugar for the brain to use. So placating the system with long chain carbs before bed is a good plan. Just not so many calories that is causes weight gain, a low quantity so that it doesn't cause reflux.
posted by Oyéah at 6:37 PM on May 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a low carb high protein shake when I don't want to eat too late.
posted by answergrape at 6:54 PM on May 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I do love me some cheese. My current evening snack routine is an apple (which I know is bad, sugar-wise, but I also have a delicate-snowflake stomach, and an apple helps me digest and settles any issues said delicate-snowflake stomach may be having) and either a handful of almonds or some cheese. The problem is more that I have the snack, get distracted and don't go straight to bed, and then when I do get into bed I'm all hungry again. I should get some of the shakes for that purpose, maybe.
posted by sarcasticah at 7:21 PM on May 21, 2017

Type 1 here, half a sandwich or salsa+cheese and a premeasured amount of chips work out well. Also, celery and peanut butter. Or even your apple and peanut butter. Check the label and make sure theres no sugar added. I also like chopping some of my favorite veggies together and tossing it with oil and vinegar. Or go the texas caviar or tabbouleh route. Eggs can work well. Look into high fiber foods too. Good luck!
posted by Bistyfrass at 7:42 PM on May 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ah, you want something to keep at the bedside? When I travel, I take the 100cal packs of almonds for this purpose, so I don't end up with almonds going stale or scattered all over the place.

They're a little pricy, but these Pure Protein crunch balls are fine and do the job.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:22 PM on May 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

I keep boiled eggs in the fridge for this (or should I say steamed 12 minutes for reliably semi-soft yolks). Satisfies my hunger without waking up my appetite.
posted by STFUDonnie at 8:26 PM on May 21, 2017

Dried chickpeas, optionally with malt vinegar if that suits you. They go with a lot of flavorings.
posted by rhizome at 8:35 PM on May 21, 2017

Response by poster: Well, I'd rather not eat in bed, since then I have to get up and brush my teeth again, and I never want to do that, so ideally I'd like something that I can eat right before bed. I do like almonds, and we normally have at least a couple of the bags of lightly-salted ones from Trader Joe's in the house.
posted by sarcasticah at 8:37 PM on May 21, 2017

Type I diabetic here. For laziness, you can't beat a spoonful or two of peanut butter straight from the jar before bed. It makes a nice big slow-digesting lump in your stomach.

When you get the "have to eat right now!" feelings: Is your blood sugar low? Are you able to test it?
posted by clawsoon at 8:40 PM on May 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Raw apples specifically are said to lead to cravings in a lot of people. Might be just a myth but I've heard it in 'low glycemic diet' circles (I follow that diet for health reasons but have not observed the apple --> craving effect). So maybe instead of extra bedside snack you could experiment with skipping or substituting the apple? Just a thought.
posted by The Toad at 8:45 PM on May 21, 2017

I've found that ice cream makes for a pretty good bedtime snack. The key is portion control.
posted by asterix at 9:30 PM on May 21, 2017

The goal is a mix of protein and snack-level carbs. I'm also a T2, well-controlled, and I've tried hard-boiled eggs (indigestion), cheese (lovely, but doesn't prevent a low), a small Hawaiian roll with cream cheese (fair), peanut butter on a spoon or a cracker (fair), Triscuits with whatever.

The only thing that's worked perfectly for me since the 5+ years since diagnosis, without fail, are Nature Valley Protein Bars (I do the Peanut Butter Dark Chococlate ones); they come in a variety of nut versions. Since the goal with a snack is 15 grams of carbs to keep one steady (or prevent a low), the protein bar's 14 grams of carbs is just about perfect; I don't wake up hungry or low in the middle of the night, and it has no impact on my morning numbers. I'm a vegetarian and don't ever get enough protein, so the fact that they have 10 grams of protein is an added boost for me.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 10:34 PM on May 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Those are okay, The Wrong Kind of Cheese (ironic username for this topic!)? I like those, too -- those are the ones I usually go for when I take my morning meds, since a couple of them are to be taken with food. I worry about the sugar in those, though.
posted by sarcasticah at 10:39 PM on May 21, 2017

Response by poster: Oh, clawson -- not to threadsit, but I wanted to answer your question. I don't think my blood sugar is actually low when I feel like that. I think it's lower than it has been, and my body needs to get used to that. I'm not actually hypoglycemic. (Well, not now -- my doctor had me on two diabetes meds at the same time, and that did make my blood sugar go way too low, so I'm just on one now.)
posted by sarcasticah at 10:40 PM on May 21, 2017

If it's the fiber in the apple that seems to help settle your stomach, maybe try something with a lower GI hit, and add some protein and fat - like, a couple celery sticks and some nut butter? And maybe schedule your snack a little differently, so you eat snack, read a little while eating it, then immediately brush teeth and to bed. Set an alarm for a reminder if need be, until the habit takes hold.
posted by rtha at 11:05 PM on May 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am not diabetic, so feel free to ignore me. But I do sometimes get hungry right at bedtime and can't sleep until I get up and find a snack. I've tried pushing back my dinner until about 2 hours before I go to bed. Back when I was having acid reflux issues this would have been a no-go, but right now it's helpful.

Also - plain yogurt.
posted by bunderful at 5:28 AM on May 22, 2017

Lots of good suggestions above. N'thing cheese sticks. Convenient and a good portion size.

If I need more than that, I'll instead go for a few crackers (something with some fiber preferred) with a generous amount of peanut butter. That's enough fat and protein to slow things down and spread it out over the night.

If you pick the brand and flavor carefully, ice cream also works but, again as mentioned you have to watch the portion size. I rarely go for this but on really warm summer nights it's lovely.

(I've considered trying my post-long-ride protein shake but haven't gotten around to it yet. IsoPure makes low/zero carb powder in dutch chocolate or vanilla that I really like the taste of. It makes for a very long-lasting non-spiking food.)
posted by introp at 7:32 AM on May 22, 2017

I just remembered my other trick for just curbing hunger-feeling that isn't necessarily associated with a big blood sugar drop: fiber gummies. Useful on multiple fronts, but yes you absolutely need to take them and give yourself 5-10 minutes to get the last of them out of your teeth, then brush.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:06 AM on May 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have sampled and use many low carb, high protein/fiber snacks. There are a bunch of prior posts on this I would definitely recommend searching as people have had many great suggestions. I typically try to minimize grains (although I love grains, I tend to feel that they are not actually 'healthy' as they had been touted up until recent times, even whole grains).

My favorites:
- Wild Zora jerky
- Laughing Cow cheese or string cheese
- Moon Cheese (mozzarella)
- Nakd bars
- Larabars
- KIND bars
- Greek yogurt or Icelandic skyr (Siggi's) with Un-granola (or KIND granola)
- Cottage cheese (I'm weird and I like it with horseradish but you can have it lots of ways, I know a lot of people like a little pineapple on it)
- Pure Protein shakes (Costco)
- Seaweed/Sea Snax (flavored) - not filling but good for something salty
- Chicken Melts (Costco) - a little fast-food esque but they take 1 minute to make and they taste good.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:50 AM on May 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

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