Healthy snacks can help manage diabetes in many ways. Snacking can:
The word ‘snack’ may make you think of convenience foods or pre-packaged items. However, a snack can be just as healthy as a meal. Choose a serving of healthy foods from one or two of the food groups for a great snack at any time of the day. When planning snacks, reflect on how often you eat in a day. You should eat something every four to five hours. This is especially important if you increase your amount of physical activity or find yourself skipping meals, since both affect blood glucose levels.
Some conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or gastroparesis, may cause tummy upset or bowel problems if a large amount of food is eaten at one time. If you experience pain or discomfort after big meals, try eating smaller amounts more often throughout the day.
If you often need to snack to avoid low blood glucose, this may signal that your medication or insulin dose is too high. Depending on how your medication or insulin works, it may be wise to eat something small within an hour of bedtime. A light snack at the end of your day tells your liver there is no need to pump more glucose into the body. Include a source of carbohydrate and one of protein to control both blood glucose and appetite. Contact your doctor, diabetes educator or pharmacist with questions about changing insulin or medication doses.
Consistency is key! Skipping meals and snacks can be dangerous if you are taking certain medications. For instance, if your insulin dose is calculated to include an afternoon snack but you do not eat, you risk having low blood glucose.
Include one or two of these foods in each snack. A Glucerna™ bar or nutritional / meal replacement drink can also be a great snack.
Vegetables and Fruit
Milk and Alternatives
Meat and Alternatives
|- Fresh fruit
- Pre-cut vegetables
- Fruit bars and fruit cups/cans, made with its own juice
- Dried fruit, 100% fruit leather and fruit/veggie bars (no added sugars)
- Apple and fruit sauces (no added sugars)
- Washed and ready-to-eat produce, prepared salad mixes
- Vegetable soup
- Vegetable or tomato juice
|- Half of an English muffin or bagel
- Nutri-grain bar
- Non-dipped low fat granola bar
- Dry cereals
- Half of a large homemade muffin
- Two plain cookies
|Flavoured or plain yogurt in single servings or portioned into smaller containers
- Milk puddings
- Cottage cheese
- One cup of skim or 1% milk
|Nuts and seeds (no added salt or seasonings)
- Trail mix
- Peanut butter
- Hummus (as a dip)
- Roasted soy beans
- Tuna or salmon snack pack
Choosing foods and amounts appropriate to your dietary needs at snack time can help you feel satisfied until the next meal. Since the body digests fibre and protein more slowly, these foods cause a smaller increase in blood glucose. Generally speaking, foods high in fibre or protein are lower on the glycemic index. Choose snack foods with a low GI number to help keep your blood glucose in target range.
Healthy snacking helps control appetite, prevents the risk of having low blood glucose, and helps meet Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating (www.healthcanada.gc.ca/foodguide). Keep healthy options handy and your snack schedule consistent.