Snacks can be an important part of anyone’s day, and especially so for those living with diabetes. Skipping or delaying meals can lead to blood sugar crashes or even blood sugar spikes. Spikes can occur because a person with diabetes may overeat after having low blood sugar, or because their body simply wants them to compensate for missed calories.
You can avoid blood sugar highs and lows by planning ahead and having healthy snacks on hand. Diabetes-healthy snacks contain little to no added sugars and a combination of carbs, fiber, protein and healthy fats to help you stabilize your blood sugar levels. Here’s a list of 10 diabetes-healthy snacks:
Fruit and Yogurt
Fruit is considered a nutrient-dense carb food because it can be a great source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Fiber helps to control blood sugar, potassium helps to maintain a healthy blood pressure, vitamin A keeps your eyes and skin healthy, and vitamin C helps with healing – all of which are important for preventing diabetes complications.1 To make snacking on fruit easier, keep chopped fruit in the refrigerator and a fruit bowl on your kitchen table. Pair your fruit with a high-protein yogurt, such as nonfat Greek yogurt.
Veggies and Hummus
Like fruit, veggies are a nutrient-dense carb food. You read that right – a carb food. Many people don’t realize that all vegetables, even non-starchy ones like broccoli, contain carbs. However, non-starchy vegetables usually don’t contain enough carbs for them to impact your blood sugar. Because non-starchy vegetables are packed with nutrients and have minimal blood sugar impact, try to eat at least 3-5 servings of them a day. A great way to get in a serving is by pairing veggies with protein-rich hummus for a snack.
Nuts and Seeds
While it may not seem like it, fat has a purpose in our diets. It protects our organs, keeps our body warm and helps us absorb and transport fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins D and K. Unfortunately, not all fats are created equal. Aim to get more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your diet – these are healthy fats. Good sources of monounsaturated fats include almonds, cashews, pecans and peanuts, and polyunsaturated fats are found in walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds.
Cheese and Whole-grain Crackers
Cheese gets a bad rap because of its high saturated fat and sodium content. However, it’s important to know that cheese is a high-quality protein food and a good source of calcium.3 If you’re still worried about the saturated fats and sodium, try choosing reduced-fat cheese or cheeses that are naturally lower in sodium, such as Swiss, goat cheese and fresh mozzarella.4 Pair your cheese with whole-grain crackers for a boost in fiber to help manage your blood sugar.
Cottage Cheese and Fruit
While cottage cheese isn’t a low-sodium food, you can find versions with less sodium. And if you’re watching your fat intake, low-fat and fat-free options are available too. A ½ cup serving of cottage cheese is equivalent to eating 2 ounces of meat or another protein. Try pairing this serving with fruit – peaches and berries are popular choices. Sprinkle your favorite Splenda Sweetener on top for added sweetness.
A Half Sandwich
A half sandwich may sound like a boring snack, but it doesn’t have to be. First, choose a whole-grain bread. For a sweeter half sandwich, make a PB&J with sugar-free jam or jelly. For a more savory half sandwich, dress up low-sodium meat with a smart cheese choice from the list above or sugar-free pickles.
Energy or Protein Balls
Energy or protein balls are a trending snack for good reason – they’re delicious and simple to make. Most protein ball recipes require no baking, too. Energy or protein balls are called a combination food because they contain a mixture of food groups (usually grains, protein and fruit). Be sure to read the nutrition info that comes with the recipe to know how to count it in your diabetes meal plan.
Depending on the ingredients, smoothies can serve as a healthy snack or a sugary dessert masking as a smoothie. A healthy smoothie should include a protein source, such as Greek yogurt or peanut butter, and fruit or veggies. Try a Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie made with a ½ serving of fruit, chia seeds (remember these are a source of polyunsaturated fat), peanut butter and an 8-ounce Splenda Milk Chocolate Diabetes Care Shake. Now that’s a nutrient-packed snack.
In summary, snacks can be essential for people with diabetes to prevent blood sugar crashes and spikes. Snacks don’t have to be boring, but they should always be healthy. The snacks listed above can be used to keep your blood sugar stable, satisfy your hunger and get a wide variety of food groups and nutrients in your diet. Enjoy.
1. Produce for Better Health Foundation. (n.d.). Key nutrients in fruits & vegetables. Have a Plant. https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/key-nutrients-that-protect/
2. American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Fats. https://www.diabetes.org/healthy-living/recipes-nutrition/eating-well/fats
3. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (n.d.). Cheese. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/cheese/
4. Cleveland Clinic. (2019, May 1). Sodium-controlled diet. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15426-sodium-controlled-die