Smart snacking with diabetes
Choose nutrient-rich, lower-carbohydrate snacks for healthy blood-sugar control.
While meal planning is often the focus for people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, accounting for nutrient-rich, lower-carbohydrate snacks is important, too.
“Snacking with diabetes usually means re-wiring the brain to think of snacking in a new and different way,” said Becky Gregory, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, a registered dietitian at the Vanderbilt Eskind Diabetes Center. “The old idea of eating cookies or chips as a snack is not ideal for anyone. Good snacks for those with diabetes can be different for each patient, especially depending on their medication.”
Snacks are a great way to curb hunger between meals and serve an opportunity to add fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat/fat-free dairy into your daily eating plan. Not only do they provide energy to fuel your day, but they also contain key nutrients such as fiber and both vitamins and minerals that are necessary for overall health. The key to snacking is portion control, as the carbohydrate content of a snack serving affects blood sugar. Monitoring portion sizes aids in healthy blood sugar control and weight management.
Instead of munching on chips from the vending machine or sneaking a few pieces of candy from the office treat bowl, plan ahead and bring one of these healthier snacks instead:
5 grams of carbohydrate or less
- 1 hard-boiled egg
- 1 cup light popcorn
- 1/3 cup raspberries
- 1 low-fat string cheese stick*
- ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 2 tablespoons nuts (e.g., almonds, cashews)*
* Top picks from Liz Smith, RD, LDN, CDE, a registered dietitian at the Vanderbilt Eskind Diabetes Center
10-20 grams of carbohydrate
- 1 cup watermelon or 1 small apple
- 1/3 cup hummus and 1 cup raw vegetables. Becky Gregory, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, recommends selecting vegetables such as snap peas, cucumber slices, sliced bell peppers and broccoli florets.
- 2 celery stalks with 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1, 5.3-ounce low-fat strawberry Greek yogurt
- 5 whole-wheat crackers and 1 low-fat string cheese stick
- 1 slice whole-wheat bread plus 2 ounces low-sodium deli turkey and 1 ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese
Looking at both the serving size and carbohydrate content on a product’s Nutrition Facts Label is one of the most accurate ways to determine how many grams of carbohydrate you will be consuming. For snacks that don’t contain a Nutrition Facts Label (e.g., apple, baby carrot sticks), try using the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference or a registered dietitian-rated four-star phone app such as Diabetes Companion or WaveSense Diabetes Manager to look up the carbohydrate content of a certain food or beverage item.
For more suggestions on snacking with diabetes or information about living with diabetes, please consult a registered dietitian in your area.
Lindsay MacNab, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, health nut and deep dish pizza addict from the wonderful windy city of Chicago. A 2015-2016 dietetic intern at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Lindsay was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs and received both her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Diet & Exercise from Iowa State University.