Healthy Snacks and Sweet Treats

Snacks may be necessary for some people with diabetes on certain oral medications or insulin.

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

To snack or not to snack with diabetes? That is the question. Snacks may be necessary for some people with diabetes on certain oral medications or insulin. For example, someone on a mixed insulin regimen may find that a morning snack after breakfast keeps blood glucose levels stable and prevents mid-morning hypoglycemia. Other people may find they need an afternoon snack before exercise to keep blood glucose levels from dropping. And some people just find they can control their weight and blood sugar numbers best if they eat several small meals and snacks thoughout the day. The challenge is in finding snacks that don't raise blood glucose levels too much — in other words, lower-carbohydrate snacks.

Here are some examples of snacks with around 15 grams of carbohydrate:

  • 3 whole-wheat crackers (Triscuits) with 2 tbsp natural peanut butter = 15g

  • 1 small pear and a small handful (12) almonds = 16g

  • 6 ounces of plain, lowfat yogurt with sugar substitute = 12g

  • 2 cups of popcorn with 1 tbsp butter = 12g

  • 1/2 cup of sugar-free pudding = 12g

  • 1/2 cup of no-sugar-added ice cream

  • 1/2 cup of blueberries and 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese = 15g

  • 1 small protein bar with around 15 grams carbohydrate

  • 1 small apple with 1 tbsp peanut butter = 17g

  • 1/2 turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread with mayo = 12g

  • 4 baby carrots, 4 celery stalks dipped in 5 tbsp hummus = 15g

Here are some examples of even lower (under 15g) carbohydrate snacks:

  • Handful of almonds, walnuts, or pecans

  • Celery stalks with natural peanut butter

  • String Cheese

  • 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese

  • Hard boiled egg

  • Veggies and ranch or bleu cheese dip

  • Sugar-free jello with whipped topping

When a person first gets diagnosed with diabetes they may be fearful that sweet treats are gone forever. High-sugar, trans-fat laden foods such as regular cakes, pies, and candy are definitely not recommended, because these foods will spike blood glucose levels and are full of artery clogging fats. People with diabetes can still have sweet treats and desserts, but they must learn how to control portions and/or make healthy substitutes. When buying products at the store look for sugar-free versions of fudge bars, jello, pudding, and ice cream bars, but remember these foods can still contain carbohydrates, so read labels. When baking your own desserts, use sugar substitutes in place of sugar to decrease carbohydrates.

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Last Modified Date: June 17, 2013

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by Brenda Bell
Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...
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