Snack is not a “four-letter” word. Snacks are important in the daily life of a person with diabetes, particularly those with type 1 diabetes and insulin-requiring type 2 diabetes. If there are more than four or five hours between meals, the person runs the risk of low blood sugar, and getting so hungry that he overeats at the next meal. Between-meal and bedtime snacks are essential to keep glucose tablets, wherever they go, particularly when driving or exercising.

The best snacks are healthy, convenient and carbohydrate-controlled. Healthy means higher in fiber, low fat, less salt, and no or very little sugar. Convenient snacks do not have to be refrigerated, like snack bars and packaged snacks. Most important is the amount of carbohydrate the snack offers - a serving, or choice, is about 15 grams of carbohydrate. Your meal plan may designate the amount of carbohydrate for snacks. To slow the rise of blood sugar, and keep you full longer, you can include some healthy protein with your snack.
 
Here are some tips in selecting your snacks:
· Do not eat right out of the bag - count out your allowed serving, put the food items on a plate, and enjoy. There are single serving raisins, pretzels and other snack foods to help us with portion control.
· Look for fresh snacks in the produce department - baby carrots, fresh fruit.
· All crackers, bread and English muffins should be whole grain.
· Watch the calories while you control the carbs. A snack should be about 150-200 calories.
· Select nutrition bars carefully. Granola type bars are high in sugar and low in protein. Find bars that are more balanced - with 7 or more grams of protein. There are handy nutrition bars designed for diabetes that slow the rise of blood sugar with special formulations. (Extend Bars, Glucerna Bars, and Choice Bars).
· You can also drink your snack - a glass of milk, or lower calorie meal replacement drink.
· Satisfy your sweet tooth with label reading - 6 grams of sugar per serving is manageable in a diabetic diet. Find chocolate low sugar popsicles, or low fat puddings as treats.
· All cheeses should be low fat or reduced fat; cottage cheese should be skim or 1%.
· Milk should be 1% or skim.
· Popcorn should be light microwavable or air-popped.
· Sugar-free cookies and candy are neither particularly calorie-saving nor cost saving. Sugar alcohols are used to make the products “sugar-free.” Sugar alcohols are listed on the label - and sometimes too much causes gas and bloating. Watch your portion here.
· If the fiber content is more than 5 grams per serving, you can subtract half of the fiber carbs from the total carbs. So, the total effect of the carbohydrate in the items is less on your blood sugar.
 
Here is a list of snack ideas:
 
Less than 10 grams of carbohydrate
· 2 stalks celery, 4 bell pepper rings, cucumber slices with 2 tbsp. onion dip
· String cheese (1 oz.) 
 
10-15 grams of carbohydrate
· Almonds or peanuts (½ cup)
· ½ cup Cheerios and ¼ cup milk
· 1 Graham cracker, 2 tsp peanut butter and 3 oz. milk
· Popcorn (3 cups)
· 7 Wheat Thins and 1 oz. cheese
· 4 oz. Light Yogurt
· ½ c applesauce no sugar added
· ½ cup sugar free pudding
 
15-20 grams of carbohydrate
· 1 small Apple and 1 tbsp. peanut butter
· 6-8 animal crackers
· ½ large Banana and 1 tbsp. peanut butter
· 2/3 cup Cheerios and ½ cup milk
· ½ cup Cottage cheese, ¼ cup pineapple chunks and 5 Wheat Thins
· 5 caramel corn mini rice cakes with 2 tbsp. peanut butter
· 1 slice toast and 1 oz. low-fat cheese
· 5 Triscuits and 1 oz. low-fat cheese
· Sun chips-10
 
25 grams of carbohydrate
· 1½ graham crackers, 2 tsp. peanut butter and ½ small banana
· 1 slice cheese melted on ½ English muffin and 6 oz. milk
· 1 packet plain instant Oatmeal prepared with 4 oz. milk, cinnamon & Splenda
· baked potato chips 
 
30-35 grams of carbohydrate

· 1 cup Cheerios, 8 oz. milk and 1 tbsp. chopped walnuts
· 2 Graham crackers, 1 tbsp. peanut butter and 8 oz. milk
· 3 cups Popcorn, 1 small piece of fruit and 1 oz. cheese
· 3 RyKrisp crackers, 1 apple and 1 oz. low-fat cheese
· 1 cup strawberries & ½ cup vanilla yogurt mixed w/½ cup cottage cheese
· 1 oz. string cheese, 5 Triscuits and 1 piece of fruit
· 1 oz baked tortilla chips and ¼ cup salsa
· 2 fig cookies and ½ cup skim milk
 

And for some more great diabetes-friendly snack ideas, visit the "Snack" section of the DiabetesCare.net Recipe Center.

 

Reviewed by Clara Schneider MS, RD, RN, CDE, LDN - 05/13