Snacking With Diabetes
Dos and Don'ts to help you satisfy cravings and better manage blood sugar..
For those managing diabetes, snacking is often seen as something to avoid or at the very least worry about. That’s probably because we associate snacking with a whole lot of food groups that just aren’t advantageous to diabetes health.
However, snacks are not the enemy. In fact, when done responsibly snacking can be a great way to enhance the control you have over your blood sugar, especially if you are currently taking insulin or other diabetes medications.
So, the next time you find yourself in-between meals and hankering for something good to eat, go for it! Just make sure you’re snacking smart. Like every other aspect of your diet, snacking will impact your diabetes health and blood glucose level. You surely don’t want to go off the rails. But there’s absolutely no reason you can’t satisfy that craving with some diabetes-friendly choices.
As always, before making any changes or additions to your diet or diabetes care plan, it’s important to consult with your personal physician and care team.
Snacking healthy is smart. So is sticking to your doctor-recommended diabetes treatment plan. At Diabetic Warehouse, we make it easy with a complete selection of diabetes equipment and supplies at prices that are up to 65% less than pharmacies and other suppliers. Shop online for glucose meters, lancets and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGM), infusion sets and other products from leading manufacturers like FreeStyle, Dexcom, OneTouch, Easy Comfort and Accu-Chek.
Think Carb Count
If you’re living with diabetes, you’re probably quite aware that carbohydrates in foods are broken down by the body and turned into glucose. Therefore carb-loaded foods lead to elevations in blood sugar levels. Common snack foods, such as cereals, breads, and potato snacks have high carbohydrate counts and must be carefully monitored and usually should be avoided.
However, carbs aren’t always a bad thing when it comes to snacking.
There are times of day that your blood sugar may drop and a snack with carbs can help keep it at the proper levels. For example, exercise can lower blood sugar, so a snack before working out can be beneficial for many people with diabetes. For others, blood sugar tends to drop at nighttime so a pre-bedtime snack might be recommended.
There are also different types of carbohydrates - complex and simple. Simple carbohydrates are found in sugary snacks, processed foods, baked goods, and sugary drinks like sodas. Just by the list you can already tell that these are the carbs you should try your best to avoid. Simple carbs are absorbed into the bloodstream very rapidly, which can spike blood glucose levels at a pace that makes it harder to manage.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are found in foods such as whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. These carbs enter the bloodstream far more gradually, which helps minimize any spike in blood sugar level. Plus, complex carb treats almost always provide the body far greater nutritional value than simple carbohydrate snacks. They also have a lot less fat, which further contributes to spikes in blood sugar and can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
As a general rule for everyday snacking, it’s best to stick with “complex carb” treats that provide a more stable blood sugar increase and are all-in-all just a whole lot better for you.
Smart Snacks - Five All-Time Favorites
So, what are some of the smart snacks you can eat guilt-free? While you will always need to monitor blood sugar and control portions, snacks that revolve around fresh veggies, proteins, select fruits, high-fiber foods, and low-fat options make the best choices. With that in mind here are five yummy favorites.1. Fresh-cut bell peppers with humus.
You can’t go wrong with this tasty treat. You get a double dose of diabetes-friendly nutrients - fiber, protein, minerals, and vitamins. Plus, this is a low-carb snack that won’t throw your blood sugar out of whack. Here’s another tasty hint - there’s no reason to limit yourself to just bell peppers. Broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, and other veggies also go great with hummus.2. Popcorn
Who doesn’t love popcorn? What you might not know, however, is that popcorn is a great whole-grain snack that’s also extremely low in calories. In fact, it’s widely considered to be one of the best-tasting meets best-for-you snacks for people living with diabetes. There is one caveat, however. Manufacturers of most pre-packed brands tend to toss in a whole lot of salt, unhealthy flavorings, and trans-fat into the bag along with the popcorn. Therefore, your best bet is to pop your own and skip the salt or seasoning (or add them sparingly). Don’t go overboard. About 3 cups of popcorn makes for a healthy snack-sized portion.3. A handful of trail mix
Most trail mix is made with a combination of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. The nuts are a great source of protein and help make that little handful feel like a substantial snack. Try to find a no-sugar added trail mix as many manufacturers tend to use sugar to sweeten the dried fruit, which can contribute to elevated blood glucose levels. As with many aspects of diabetic life, moderation is the key here. Trail mix is a high-calorie snack and can lead to unwanted weight gain if you don’t use that willpower.4. Peanut butter and celery stalks
This is a classic go-to treat for countless snack fanatics - not just those living with diabetes. Enjoying two tablespoons of peanut better with fresh-cut celery sticks provides a great source of protein that can aid in blood sugar control, while also being low in cholesterol and calories.5. Hard-boiled eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are a great snack for two big reasons. First, they are high in protein (one hard-boiled egg contains roughly 6 grams of protein) which can help keep blood sugar levels in check. Secondly, they are a substantial snack that definitely takes away those hunger pangs. Avoid pouring on the salt and pepper. Instead try topping yours with tomato or avocado for a healthier alternative.
Looking for some more diabetes-friendly snack ideas? The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has put together a handy Smart Snacks Guide full of great options. Check it out here.
Snack Time Tips
There are some steps you can take to make sure you stick to the plan and never enjoy too much of a good thing when comes to snacking.1. If it’s not healthy, take it off the shopping list
It’s a lot easier to find the willpower to avoid those sugary, salty, fatty snacks if they’re nowhere in sight. So, don’t buy snacks that you know are not good for someone with diabetes. This can seem a little unfair when sharing a household with family or friends. But those closest to you will certainly want to be in your corner when it comes managing your diabetes. Besides, the snacks that are good for you are also good for them. This is especially true for kids who can develop better eating habits and avoid future weight issues when they’re taught to snack smart at a young age.2. Don’t eat out of the bag or box
When there’s an open bag of goodies sitting right there on your lap, it can be hard to stop yourself from grabbing one more handful. Instead of eating directly from the bag, take a single serving and put it on a plate. Once the plate is empty, snack time is over.3. Always have some fresh-cut veggies in the fridge.
One way to make sure healthy choices are always convenient is to purchase precut, prewashed vegetables, such as celery, broccoli, and bell peppers, or buy them and cut them yourself. When you get a little hungry, opening the fridge and seeing those healthy choices ready and waiting makes it easier to avoid turning to something less healthy.4. Avoid High-Fat Dips & Toppings
Because people with diabetes tend to eat a lot of veggies, they also tend to try different dips. Unfortunately, a lot of popular choices are high in carbs and fat. Instead, mash up a fresh avocado to make your own guacamole, or chop up some tomatoes, onions, and cilantro to prepare your own salsa. Guess what? It’ll probably taste fresher and better anyway.5. Read nutrition labels
Labels will tell you whether your snack choice is a good one or not, something that’s not always evident at a passing glance. For instance, a lot of fat-free snacks that might seem fine, get their flavor by adding sugar, which is obviously not a good thing for someone with diabetes. Take the extra 20 seconds and read those labels and packages carefully. Informed choices are always better choices.
Done right, snacks can serve a great purpose for people living with diabetes. They can help regulate blood sugar; provide healthy nutrients; and make each day a lot more enjoyable. You just have to remember to choose wisely and understand exactly what you’re putting into your body.
If you haven’t done so already, it’s a great idea to discuss healthy snacking with your diabetes physician and care team. They’ll help you decide which indulgences are right for you and which ones you should avoid as part of your individual diabetes health and treatment plan.
Did you find this post informative? If so, we hope you’ll check out our other posts. At Diabetic Warehouse, we’re committed to keeping you informed with tips, trends, and the latest news on living with and treating diabetes. We also invite you to save up to 65% on a huge selection of test strips, lancing devices, infusion sets, insulin syringes, pen needles, and continuous glucose monitoring devices (CGM). Explore our offerings and enjoy fast, free delivery on every order at diabeticwarehouse.org.
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