When craving something sweet, salty, or crunchy during the day, you will often find yourself reaching out for cookies or pretzels. While these snacks are not only satisfying and convenient, they are also loaded with carbs. Frequently snacking on these foods can prove dangerous for individuals with diabetes.
Indeed, it can be confusing to select healthy snacks when you have diabetes. Fortunately, you don’t have to keep on eating bland snacks to ensure blood sugar management. Focus on healthy snack items that are high in healthy fats, protein, and fiber. These nutrients are ideal for managing your blood sugar.
Things to Consider When Planning Diabetes-Friendly Snacks
Snacking is a great way of managing your blood sugar. Not having snacks between meals can result in fluctuations in the blood sugar levels. Planning your snacks can also help to preventhigh carbohydrate consumption.
Carbohydrates are processed by the body in the same way as sugar by sending them directly to the bloodstream. As a result, your blood sugar levels spike. Therefore, focus on snacks that have a low GI (Glycemic Index) score as it helps in stablaizing the blood sugar levels.
When planning and choosing diabetes-friendly snacks, focus on what, how, and when you will be snacking. Here are a few things to consider:
- Opt for snack items that you don’t have to heat up or cook. You can prepare them a night before and enjoy them the next day.
- The snacks should have around 10 to 20 grams of carbs.
- They should be loaded with protein and fiber – the main elements for balanced and stabilized blood sugar snacks.
It is normal to crave snacks around two to three hours after you have had a main meal. If you are feeling hungry earlier, you must evaluate the nutrients you are consuming in your meals. Perhaps, you are eating meals that have a high amount of carbs and fewer amounts of fiber and protein.
Healthy Snack Ideas for Blood Sugar Management
Here are some snacking ideas that can help in maintaining your blood sugar levels throughout the day:
If you want to curb your craving for something crunchy and salty, popcorn is a perfect snack! It does have a high amount of carbs, but about one fifth of the carbs are in the form of dietary fiber is low calorie and loaded with fiber.
Fiber helps improve your blood sugar management and can reduce the HbA1c (Hemoglobin A1C – a measure of long-term blood glucose control) and fasting blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Popcorn is a convenient and portable snack option, which means it can be easily stashed in your office desk or snacks cabinet at home without worrying that they might go bad. Whenever hunger strikes you between meals, pop them in the microwave and you will have a filling snack in less than two minutes!
If you are using store-bought popcorn, try to stay clear of kettle-popped ones as they contain added sugar. The trick with popcorn is to focus on the portion size. Don’t munch on them mindlessly from a huge bowl, opt for a small cup instead.
Hard Boiled Eggs
Another healthy snack for blood sugar management is hard-boiled eggs. The amount of protein in them is what makes them outshine other snacks. A large hard-boiled egghas 17.1g of protein that can prevent your blood sugar level from rising.
One study found that individuals with type 2 diabetes, consuming two eggs every day, experienced a drastic decrease in their fasting blood glucose levels. Those individuals also had a reduced HbA1c.
Have one or two hard-boiled eggs as a snack; you can even top them up with avocado or other healthy toppings.
Sweet Potato Toasts
This is a great snack, particularly if you are restricting refined bread from your diet. You can recreate gourmet toasts using a sweet potato base. All you need to do is cut up slices of sweet potato and pop them in the toaster. You will have crispy toasts ready to be splattered with a healthy topping, including almond butter, tahini, and avocado.
Berries Mixed in Yogurt
Yogurt with berries is another delicious diabetes-friendly snack to curb your sweet cravings, while keeping you full for longer.
Berries are loaded with antioxidants that may decrease the inflammation in your body and prevent cell damage in the pancreas – the vital organ that releases hormones to reduce blood sugar levels. Berries are a great fiber source as well. For instance, one cup of blueberries has 3.6g of fiber.
On the other hand, yogurt contains probiotics that enhances the ability of your body to metabolize sugar-containing foods. It is also loaded with protein that can help you in managing your blood sugar levels.
Therefore, the combination of berries and yogurt makes for a powerful and delicious snack. Mix them together or layer them with granola to create a parfait.
Raw Veggies Sticks
Raw vegetable slices or sticks are a great snacking idea. It is a good way of adding an extra veggie serving for the day. Cut up cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, green or red peppers, carrots, or tomatoes and nibble on them between meals. You can also create a delicious dip to go with them, including hummus, salad dressing, or nonfat yogurt.
Eggplant Slices and Salsa
Eggplant slices with salsa can add an interesting twist to your snacking needs. Create a bean salsa to up your consumption of fiber and protein.
Smoothies are a great source of nutrients, particularly fiber and protein. It is also another way of increasing your intake of veggies and fruits. You can either create an all-fruit smoothie or mix it with a vegetable, like a cucumber or spinach.
You can also make a smoothie bowl, topping it with nuts and fresh fruit. It is best for snacking on the go as you can make it in a mason jar and eat it whenever you feel hungry.
Apple Slices Dipped in Peanut Butter
Slice up an apple and dip it in peanut butter for a healthy and delicious snack for blood sugar management.
Apples contain a high amount of nutrients, like potassium, vitamin C, and B, whereas, peanut butter is loaded with manganese, magnesium, and vitamin E. These valuable nutrients help with diabetes management.
Peanut butter and apples contain a higher amount of fiber as well. A medium apple with 1 oz of peanut butter offers 7g fiber; making this snack ideal for maintaining your blood sugar levels.
Apples have been specifically researched for the role they play in diabetes management. They contain antioxidants that prevent pancreatic cell damage.
This is already a popular snack choice for many. Avocado toast is trending and for good reason. It is loaded with nutrients and is filling.
Spread one-fourth avocado on top of whole-wheat bread and top it with garlic powder, ground pepper, chili flakes, or any other salt-free topping. This snack contains healthy fats and high-fiber carbs that will keep you full for hours.
If you want to avoid bread, you can mix diced avocado with half cup chickpeas, hot sauce, and lemon juice for a high-fiber delicious snack.
Chickpeas are an extremely healthy legume, packed with protein and fiber. One cup of chickpeas contains 13g fiber and 15g protein, which makes it a great snack option for diabetics.
According to this study, regular consumption of chickpeas prevents diabetes progression as they can improve blood sugar management. One study concluded that individuals consuming chickpeas every day for six meals experienced stable insulin and blood sugar levels after meals in comparison to individuals following a wheat-based diet.
A simple way to add chickpeas in your diet is to toast them and eat them as snacks between meals. Roasted chickpeas are crunchy. Season them with your choice of seasoning and olive oil to boost its flavor. You can also create a chickpea salad by adding raw onions, tomatoes, corn, and other vegetables.
Nuts are nutritious, tasty and crunchy, making them a wonderful snack option for individuals with diabetes. They are full of protein, healthy fats, and have a low amount of carbs. Pack a snack of one to two walnuts and five to six soaked almonds every day to keep you full.
Cottage cheese contains minerals and vitamins, a high amount of protein, and is low in carbs. It also helps with blood sugar management. A study found that individuals who consumed cottage cheese reduced their blood sugar by 38% in comparison to individuals who consumed only sugar.
This effect is mostly contributed to the high amount of protein present in cottage cheese. It is best to opt for cottage cheese instead of the low fat varieties since it is more beneficial for managing blood sugar levels due to its healthy fat content.
These healthy and delicious snacks will make sure you stay full and energized between main meals, while also assisting with your blood sugar management strategy.
Tips for Diabetes-Friendly Snacking Success
Here are some useful tips to help you plan your healthy snacks and to avoid snacking mistakes while managing your blood sugar levels:
- Make sure to have a prepared snack with you to avoid munching on unhealthy snacks. This will help you in preventing a situation where you start feeling your blood sugar levels dropping but don’t have any healthy snacks with you. It is best to prepare your snacks on the weekend for the entire week.
- Create portioned snack bags to take with you to work or while traveling. Keep a list of restaurants or cafes on your phone that offer snack bars or shakes for individuals with diabetes. That way even if you forget to take prepared snacks, you will still have healthy options.
- Follow a meal routine for snacks, just like your main meals to avoid the risk of your blood sugar levels fluctuating. The key to proper blood sugar management is following an eating schedule every day.
- Whenever you eat a new snack, check your blood sugar before and after eating it.
- Remember that carbs are not really your enemy. However, refined carbs like pasta and bread can be risky for your blood glucose level. Therefore, opt for healthy alternatives like whole-wheat bread and pasta that are high in fiber and protein.
- Always try to plate your snacks, just as your main meals. If you eat right out of the bag or don’t have portioned snack bags, then you are more likely to overeat.
- Protein is excellent for individuals with diabetes but all protein sources are not equal. Animal protein might play a contributing factor to insulin resistance. Research has shown opting for plant-based protein instead of animal proteins is better for diabetes management and prevention.
- Limit your consumption of processed snacks and replace them with unprocessed and whole foods. Processed foods include an excessive amount of unhealthy fats, sodium, as well as other additives and chemicals that may be harmful to your blood sugar management.
- Never skip your main meals and snacks as this will only result in mindless munching and snacking later in the day.
- Change your snacks every day to add variety and make it appealing for your taste buds. While eating an apple for a snack every day is healthy for you, it also increases your chances of sneaking in unhealthy snacks out of boredom.
- Practice mindfulness when you snack. Think about what and why you want to eat food. This is bound to make a major difference. Stress eating is common among many individuals, but when you plan your snacks and are mindful, your chances of stress eating reduce.
- Eat your snacks and main meals without any distractions. Avoid indulging in front of a screen to prevent over-eating and improve your blood sugar management.
- Don’t label carbs or other foods as off-limits. Having diabetes doesn’t mean you have to punish yourself by not eating the foods that you love. You can always enjoy chocolate cake or chips occasionally. The trick is portion control. If you are craving for chips, take them out in a small bowl and enjoy them instead of munching on them directly from the bag.
Snacks are a great way of controlling your blood sugar levels between main meals. Having pre-packed snacks on hand provides you with a healthy alternative to the tempting candy bowls, pastries, or donuts at work or on the go.
Be mindful of the snack choices you make. You don’t have to obsess with carb control, in fact we wrote a blog post specifically about different carb control diets for blood sugar management. Create a balance, monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and stay active. You can definitely enjoy the joys of food even if you are a diabetic patient.
Mix and match the snacks from this guide or experiment with other delicious diabetes-friendly snacks in our Hydrate and Regulate Blood Sugar EBook, click here for a FREE download. Be sure to consult your dietician or doctor to create the right meal plan for you according to the type of diabetes you have, as well as other health factors.