Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how the body turns food into energy. Naturally then, the foods you consume when you have diabetes are critically important to your overall health.
For those with type 2 diabetes, which affects 90-95% of the 37 million people in America who have diabetes, the body is resistant to insulin, a hormone that signals your body to use blood sugar for energy. Lifestyle changes, medication, or insulin injections are often necessary in order to lower blood sugar and keep it from rising too high. If blood sugar remains high, it can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease.
Navigating the act of balancing blood sugar can be tricky, but with the right tools and knowledge, it is possible. This list of snacks for diabetics is one of those tools. Refer back to it when hunger strikes to keep your blood sugar in check.
15 Snacks for Diabetics
A healthy diet is essential when managing diabetes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t snack. There are plenty of healthy snacks for diabetics that are delicious too, which is important. After all, it’s much easier to stick with any diet plan when you enjoy it!
Plus, if you’re adding exercise into your routine as part of your treatment plan, you may find yourself hungrier than normal. Instead of reaching for something that will spike your blood sugar, try one of these diabetic-friendly snacks.
Salty Snacks for Diabetics
All of the below snacks for diabetics contain protein, fiber, fat, or a combination of these, which are key ingredients for feeling satiated and maintaining stable blood sugar.
- Hummus and cucumbers, carrots, or celery
- A small handful of nuts, such as almonds, pistachios, or cashews
- Cheese Crisps
- Half of an avocado sprinkled with “everything but the bagel” seasoning
- Beef jerky
- Cottage cheese and tomatoes
- Crunchy chickpeas—you can roast them in the oven with olive oil and salt and pepper
- Fresh guacamole with baked tortilla chips
- Hard-boiled eggs
Sweet Snacks for Diabetics
When you’re craving something sweet, try one of these nutritious snacks, which will satisfy you without spiking your blood sugar.
- Greek yogurt with blueberries or raspberries
- Chocolate protein powder mixed into a cup of milk or nut milk, or frothed and added to coffee
- A scoop of nut butter mixed into steel-cut oatmeal
- Homemade granola—mix your favorite nuts and seeds with a little cinnamon and vanilla and roast them in the oven for 15 minutes.
- A small apple and a scoop of almond butter
Sugar-Free Snacks for Diabetics
If you’re looking for sugar-free options, non-processed foods, such as veggies, nuts, and seeds, will be your best bet. Many store-bought snacks have added sugar. So, always read the nutrition label carefully to see if sugar has been added.
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Homemade hummus with cucumbers, radishes, and other veggies
- A small handful of nuts
- Avocado with salt and pepper and sugar-free crackers
- Caprese salad with mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil
- Pickles with no sugar added
- Turkey and cheese rollups
- Seaweed snacks
What foods can diabetics eat freely?
As with the snacks above, diabetics should pursue nutrient-dense foods that are high in fiber, healthy fats, and protein. This includes vegetables, avocados, nuts and seeds, eggs, fatty fish, and lean proteins.
It is important to note that just because the list above includes some of the best snacks for diabetics, eating too much of them or eating too frequently throughout the day can contribute to elevated blood sugar. Try to limit the portion sizes of your snacks and consult your doctor or dietician on when is the best time to eat them. Often, this is before or after a workout, or a few hours after lunch, and before dinner.
Typically, when eating a diet full of fiber, healthy fats, and protein, you will feel fuller for longer and not need to snack as much throughout the day.
What foods to avoid with diabetes
The most important foods to avoid with diabetes are those that are high in sugar and carbohydrates. These foods will spike your blood sugar and send you on a roller coaster that keeps you craving them. While highly-processed foods and sweets (think donuts, cookies, cereal) are the obvious culprits, it’s also important to avoid simple carbohydrates such as bread and other baked goods. These, too, turn into glucose in your bloodstream. When you do eat carbohydrates, always make sure you’re eating them with protein, fiber, and fat to limit the blood sugar spike and increase satiety.
Find the best snacks for you
Everyone’s body is unique, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about which foods you should and shouldn’t consume if you have diabetes. There may also be foods on this list that you personally are intolerant or allergic to, and so, should avoid.
Your doctor may prescribe you a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to track your blood sugar throughout the day. This can help you identify which diabetic-friendly snacks are helping regulate your blood sugar and when, and which snacks cause it to spike. In addition, the CDC offers resources on meal planning, grocery shopping, and more.
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