10 healthy snacks to eat when you have diabetes
When you’re managing type 2 diabetes, you probably think a lot about what you eat. A well-balanced diet is key to keeping your blood sugar under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You may be used to making careful choices when you go grocery shopping and cook meals at home.
Healthy snacks are also an important part of your diabetes plan. They can help keep your energy steady between meals without spiking your blood sugar, says Paul Montanchez. He’s a certified diabetes educator at Blue Shield of California. “In general, you should add a snack if you’re going more than four hours between meals,” he says.
But life gets busy, and you’re often on the go. Maybe you’re out running errands, at work, or traveling. Why not take along a diabetes-friendly snack when you head out the door? You’ll have a wholesome, filling mini-meal at your fingertips when hunger hits.
Balanced snacks are key
What kind of snacks are best? Ones that strike a balance between fiber-rich carbohydrates, protein, and the right kind of fats. This combination slows digestion in a way that keeps blood sugar steady.
Healthy snacks are also a good way to fit more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats into your diet. “Most people struggle to get enough nutrients into just three meals, so the right snacks can also give you a nutrient boost,” says Montanchez.
Delicious grab-and-go snacks
Here are some nutritious options to try. These ten snacks provide a good mix of carbs, fiber, and healthy fat:
- Small apple with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
- ¼ cup trail mix with dried fruit
- Hard-boiled egg with a small bunch of grapes
- ½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt with a handful of berries and 1 tablespoon chopped nuts
- Baby carrots with ⅓ cup hummus
- ½ turkey roll-up (1 whole-grain tortilla with 2 slices turkey and mustard)
- 5 whole-grain crackers with a slice of cheese
- ½ cup low-fat cottage cheese with a handful of fruit
- Handful of roasted chickpeas
- ½ peanut butter sandwich (1 slice whole-grain bread and 1 tablespoon peanut butter)
What to skip
Steer clear of packaged snacks that are highly processed. These tend to be low in fiber and high in sodium and sugar. Examples include:
- Packaged cookies
- Candy bars
- Sweetened yogurt
- Sweetened beverages
Too much sodium, in particular, can be a problem for people with diabetes. Excess sodium may cause issues for those who also have high blood pressure. In fact, people with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke, says the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Plan your snacks just as you would your meals. That way, you’ll be able to control another big variable: calories. Here are some other smart strategies:
- Keep an eye on portions. With snack options such as nuts and nut butter, it can be easy to overdo it on calories. Measuring portion sizes helps.
- Eat mindfully. Avoid eating in front of a computer or TV. Focusing on food will help you realize when you’re full.
- Stock up on portable snacks. Fill your pantry and fridge with grab-and-go snack options. Some people do well with low-sugar snack bars, such as Glucerna®, says Montanchez.
- Find the fiber. When you look at labels on whole-grain bread, tortillas, or crackers, aim for at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
- Ask for help. Talk to your doctor or dietitian if you’re having trouble regulating your blood sugar during the day. Online programs to help you manage your diabetes are also available on Wellvolution® for eligible Blue Shield members.