Tips for healthy snacking for people with diabetes

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 the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide. Aim to include foods from at least two of the four food groups in each snack. Here are some examples:
  • A slice of whole grain bread with natural peanut butter
  • Baby carrots with hummus
  • A small container of low fat yogurt with granola sprinkled on top
  • Low-fat cheese and whole-grain crackers

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. 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 treats if you have healthy snacks close by.
  • Choose high fibre snacks such as vegetables, fruit, edamame, nuts, oatmeal and whole grain crackers. Fibre can help control blood glucose levels.
  • Try snacks that have a source of protein, such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter, a hard-boiled egg or cooked chicken.
  • Control your portions. 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 and pop 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 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. 

Bottom line 

Healthy snacking is important, especially if you have diabetes. If you need help choosing meals and snacks, speak with a Registered Dietitian.  You can work with a dietitian at a local diabetes education program (either self-refer or ask for a doctor's referral) or find a dietiitian in your area

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

Last Update – February 15, 2019

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