Does having diabetes mean your snacking days are over? Absolutely not! In fact, snacks are an important part of a daily meal plan and can help keep your blood sugar levels stable between meals. The key is to follow some guidelines when incorporating snacks into your day. Stick with fruit, vegetables, protein and whole grains, and think of your snack as a mini-meal. Keep your pantry & refrigerator stocked with healthy choices!
Just as you need to count your carbohydrates for a meal, you will need to do the same for snacks. In general, most healthcare professionals recommend 45-60 carbohydrates in a meal and about 15-20 in a snack. This can vary based on gender and activity level. Talk to your doctor or diabetes care & education specialist about the right “carb budget” for you. Here are some tips for happy and healthy snacking:
- Avoid processed snack foods. The majority of these snack items offer little nutritional value and are generally high in calories, fat, sugar, sodium, and additives.
- Choose the same types of whole, natural foods you have in your meals. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins.
- Keep your portion sizes small as this isn’t a full meal.
- Be creative! The idea is to keep the snack to 15-20 grams of carbohydrate and about 150 calories, but you can choose from a wide variety of tasty & nutritious items. While paying attention to carbs is important, including some protein and fat in your snack will help keep you full longer. Include a bit of guacamole or hummus with your veggie sticks, or some nut butter on your apple.
- Pack a few convenient snack options to take with you for times you need an energy boost. Nuts are an excellent choice for an on-the-go snack.
- Timing is important. A snack in the mid-morning or afternoon can really help manage blood sugar, keep you from getting overly hungry, and give you a little pick-me-up. Use hunger as your signal to have a snack, not boredom or fatigue.
- Use hunger as your signal to have a snack, not boredom or fatigue.
- Stay hydrated. Sometimes your body just needs water, so have a glass whenever you have a snack.
Need ideas for snacks? There are many sources, like the American Diabetes Association, Everyday Health or the great articles on our website, but here are a few suggestions we like. Portion size will depend upon your personal carbohydrate snack budget, so be sure to read nutritional information when selecting your snacks.
- Celery and a tablespoon of almond butter or peanut butter
- Cheese (1 oz.) and a few whole grain crackers or fruit
- Plain Greek yogurt and berries
- Hummus (1/3 cup) and veggies like celery, carrots & peppers
- Half a banana and a tablespoon of nut butter
- Air popped popcorn
- Lettuce wrap made with lean meat like sliced turkey
- A cup of soup – read the label if using canned or make your own
- Nuts of any kind
- Crunchy kale chips (you can make your own at home!)
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