Tips for healthy snacking for people with diabetes

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Snacking can be an important part of your meal plan if you have diabetes. But how many snacks should you have each day? And what should you snack on? Learn more about healthy snacking and diabetes below.

Do I need to eat snacks?

You are more likely to need snacks throughout the day if you:

  • Eat your meals longer than 4-6 hours apart and/or eat small meals

  • Take certain medications

  • Exercise

  • Often have low blood glucose levels

Your dietitian can help you find out how many snacks you need (if any), when to eat them, and which foods to choose.

What is a healthy snack? 

  • A healthy snack is based on Canada’s Food Guide. Aim to include vegetables and fruits, whole grains and/or protein foods.  Here are some examples:

  • A slice of whole grain bread with no sugar added peanut butter

  • Baby carrots with hummus

  • Yogurt with fresh or frozen blueberries and pumpkin seeds

  • Whole grain crackers with cheese

  • An apple and almonds

More healthy snack ideas 

Healthy snack ideas for people with diabetes – Small Snacks
Healthy snack ideas for people with diabetes – Large Snacks

How much carbohydrate should my snacks have? 

It depends on your blood glucose levels, the medication you are taking, when you exercise and when you eat meals. Your dietitian can help you figure out how much carbohydrate you should have in your snacks. 

Tips for healthy snacking

  • Keep healthy snacks at your desk, in your bag or in the car. You will be less likely to choose snacks higher in sugar and fat if you have healthy snacks close by.

  • Choose  high fibre snacks such as vegetables, fruit, legumes, edamame, nuts, oatmeal and whole grains. Fibre can help control blood glucose levels.

  • Try snacks that have a source of protein, such as nuts, beans, edamame, fish, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter, a hard-boiled egg or cooked chicken.

  • Portion out your snacks ahead of time.  Instead of snacking directly out of a bulk-sized box or bag, take one portion and eat it from a plate or bowl.

  • Remember that carbohydrates in beverages also need to be counted. Juice, pop and other sweetened beverages like iced tea, have high amounts of sugar and should be avoided.

Sugar-free snacks 

Sugar-free snacks like cookies, candy or ice cream can still contain carbohydrates, which need to be counted in your diet. They may also be high in fat, sodium or calories and low in fibre and other important nutrients. Many sugar-free snacks also contain sugar alcohol  as a sweetener, which can cause an upset stomach, bloating and diarrhea in some people. Try to choose a variety of healthy snacks instead of just sugar-free snacks. 

Snack recipes to try

Almond butter spiced apple
5 minute lentil hummus
Crispy chickpeas and pumpkin seeds with lime
Chocolate raspberry quinoa pudding
No bake toasted oat granola bars

How can a dietitian help?

A dietitian is an important part of your diabetes care team. Your dietitian will give you a personalized meal plan to help control your blood glucose levels and help you feel energized. They will make sure you are getting enough carbohydrates, fibre and other important nutrients to be healthy. Connect with a dietitian today!

Bottom line 

Healthy snacking is important, especially if you have diabetes. Use Canada’s Food Guide to help guide you. If you need help choosing meals and snacks, or with carbohydrate counting, speak with a dietitian. 

You may also be interested in: 

Diabetes Menu Plan for prevention and management
Eating Well with Diabetes: South Indian and Sri Lankan Diets
Eating well with Diabetes: North India and Pakistan diets
Diabetes and Carbohydrates
This article was written and reviewed by dietitians from Dietitians of Canada. The advice in this article is intended as general information and should not replace advice given by your dietitian or healthcare provider.

Last Update – February 24, 2023

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