About half the people I see in the clinic have some form of diabetes: prediabetes, type 1, type 2, gestational, or even a rarer type 1.5. The nutrition prescription for all of them shares one similarity—watch the total carbs. Carbohydrates are the one macronutrient that most affects changes in blood sugar (proteins and fats are the other major macronutrients that have less of an impact on blood sugar). An ideal snack with diabetes would contain less than 25 grams of carbohydrate and minimal added sugars/sweeteners (less than 6 grams per serving). Even better is if it contains soluble fiber, as this can lower the glycemic load and prevent surges in blood sugar. Examples of foods with soluble fiber include beans, fresh fruit, and oats.
Usually my patients figure out what to eat for meals pretty quickly. But finding snacks can take some extra work, since they often like packaged, quick-grab items. That means deciphering food labels to make sure you know exactly what’s in it!
In general if you’re looking for less-processed snacks, try: nuts, seeds, plain yogurt, or cheese. These are naturally very low in carbohydrate with no added sugar. Just remember to stick with a snack-size portion: 1/4 cup of nuts or seeds, or 1 ounce of cheese, or 5 ounces yogurt. If you’re on-the-go, below are some very low-carb portable options—some of which you’re probably already familiar with. Clockwise from the top:
- Wasa crackers spread with Laughing Cow Light cheese and sprinkled with ground flaxseeds
- 1/4 cup mixed unsalted nuts
- Peanut butter crackers
- Peanut chocolate bar
- String cheese
I’ve also included the Nutrition Facts labels below so you can see the amount of carbohydrate and added sugars per serving. You may notice that some of these items are high in fat, mainly from unsaturated fats (= heart-healthy) in nuts. Fat tastes rich and can make a snack more satisfying. Don’t be afraid of unsaturated fats if the overall calories are controlled!
2 Wasa crackers + Laughing Cow Light cheese wedge + 1/4 tsp of ground flaxseed = 80 calories, 10 grams carbohydrate, <1 gram added sugar
1/4 cup unsalted mixed nuts = 190 calories, 7 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams added sugar
6-pack peanut butter crackers = 180 calories, 21 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams added sugar
Good Measure peanut and dark chocolate bar = 210 calories, 11 grams carbohydrate, <1 gram added sugar
String cheese = 80 calories, 0 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams added sugar
Other great carb-controlled snacks:
- A hard-boiled egg
- 1 cup of cottage cheese mixed with 1/4 cup of blueberries
- Carrot or celery sticks with 4 tablespoons hummus
- 1 cup roasted chickpeas
- Canned drained tuna or salmon mixed with 1 tbsp light mayo
- Jerky – try vegan or turkey jerky
Are there other carb-controlled snacks you love? Please share in the comments!
Disclosure: I do not have any affiliation with the brands shown above. I’m a member of the Today’s Dietitian Green Box club in which I received the Good Measure bars as a sample.