Snacks are an integral part of most of our diets but they are also an important aspect of managing diabetes and blood glucose levels. The following article is filled with snacking tips to help you make some different choices, inspire you to move away from the same old snacks and help you to snack better!
I am always on the hunt for different healthy snack options. Not only as part of staving off the pangs of hunger between meals but also because they form a really important part of our overall diabetes management strategy.
Every meal, every snack, becomes a calculated decision, and sometimes, it can feel overwhelming. But here’s the good news: snacking doesn’t have to be the enemy! In fact, with the right choices, snacks can become powerful allies in maintaining stable blood sugar and keeping your energy levels steady.
Over the years, I’ve accumulated a few tips and tricks that have transformed snack time from a stressful battle into an enjoyable experience. Today, I want to share with you my top 10 snacking tips to help you change the way you think about snacks so that you can start to snack better too!
Demystifying the Glycemic Index: Your Key to Smart Snacking
Before we dive into specific snack ideas and tips there is one important concept to understand and that is the glycemic index (GI). This handy tool measures how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods are digested slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar, while high-GI foods are digested rapidly, leading to spikes.
To learn more about the glycemic index then take a look at my article on HIGH VS. LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX FLOURS.
For individuals managing diabetes, focusing on low-GI snacks can be really helpful. low GI snacks help maintain stable blood sugar levels, reducing the need for frequent adjustments and ensuring you have sustained energy throughout the day. Sign up below to get my helpful low and no carb snack guide to help inspire you:
My top 10 snacking tips
Snacking serves as a pivotal opportunity to help maintain steady blood sugar levels throughout the day, yet the options can often be overwhelming. With a focus on optimising both taste and nutritional value, below are my top 10 essential tips to aid you in selecting snacks that align with the goals of blood glucose control and effective diabetes management.
1. Prepare your snacks in advance
Ease and convenience always have such a pull when it comes to snacks. This could be because the hunger monster is firmly in control by this point or your blood sugar levels are dictating that you need food. When you are at this stage, it can be incredibly tempting to simply reach for the biscuit barrel. (which has its place, but certainly not for every snack). So one of the things I do, which helps, is to prepare snacks in advance.
A little bit of planning goes a long way when it comes to snacking with diabetes. By taking the time to prepare and pack nutritious snacks ahead of time, you’re not only making life easier for yourself, but you’re also giving yourself the tools you need to stay healthy and happy, no matter what the day throws your way.
For example her are a few things that help me:
- I try to keep some kind of lower or no-carb baked good available for everyone throughout the week. Examples would be my QUICK ALMOND BISCUITS or the savoury version EASY CHEESE BISCUITS. These are made with almond flour so they are carb count free from an insulin delivery perspective and are full of nutrients and essential fats.
- Keep a box of chopped fruit & vegetables in the fridge- As I chop vegetables for the packed lunch boxes in the morning, I cut extra to keep them handy to grab from the fridge. But if you are not making packed lunches try and chop some as part of your morning routine.
- Always Keep a fully stocked fruit bowl in a prominent position in the kitchen
- Try keeping a storage jar accessible full of different nuts and seeds. A handful of nuts and seeds make a really nutritious and easy snack.
2. Focus on Nutrition
It’s easy to get sucked in by flashy labels boasting low calorie counts or supposed health benefits plastered all over ready-to-go snacks. But just because something claims to be “low-calorie” or “healthy” it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice for managing your diabetes – or your overall health, for that matter.
In fact, a lot of those pre-packaged snacks are often chock-full of highly processed ingredients, artificial fillers, and other sneaky additives that can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels and send blood sugars on a roller coaster.
Therefore try to think about the nutritional value of snacks rather than counting their calories. Look for snacks or prepare snacks packed with fibre, protein, and healthy fats – these elements form the foundation of a snack that will leave you feeling satisfied while keeping your blood sugar levels steady. Consider options like nuts and seeds, fresh fruits or vegetables paired with hummus, Greek yoghurt topped with fruit and nuts or whole-grain crackers served with cheese. Not only are these snacks delicious and filling, but they also deliver the essential nutrients your body requires to maintain vitality and energy.
Another great tip is to choose whole foods and focus on fibre. Fibre slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, helping to prevent spikes in blood glucose levels. And most whole foods are packed full of it!
3. Check the labels
This may seem obvious and is probably something that is second nature for many living with or caring for a person with diabetes. But this is such an important step in helping to pick a better snack.
By paying attention to nutrition labels and ingredient lists to identify hidden sugars, unhealthy fats, and excessive salt in packaged snacks will make you a more mindful eater. If you are buying off teh shelf then choose snacks with minimal added sugars and ingredients you recognise, i.e. you would have it in your cupboard at home.
Becoming super familiar with nutritional labels and in particular ultra processed can really help you understand the nutritional values in your foods and help adjust your choices. It may help you to decide if you would rather avoid that particular snack or perhaps see if you can find a better alternative or try making it yourself.
4. Choose balanced snacks
Think about how you compile your snacks. Pair carbohydrates with protein and healthy fats to slow down digestion and help to stabilise blood sugar levels. As a rule I always try to include 2 to 3 of the major food groups in every snack:
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Healthy Fats
Using different combinations will help you to achieve a greater nutritional balance with your snacks. But it should also help you to feel fuller for longer and keep blood sugar levels a little more balanced.
Some great options we choose are:
- Sliced apple and some nut butter (fruit, protein and healthy fat)
- Whole grain crackers and cheese or my blended cottage cheese spread (carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat)
- Carrots and hummus (vegetable protein and healthy fats
- Wholegrain seeded toast, cream or whipped cottage cheese and a variety of sweet or savoury toppings (carbohydrate, protein, fruit, vegetables and healthy fat)
5. Be prepared and take more nutritious snacks with you
Now of course taking snacks with you goes without saying when you are a person living with diabetes. However, this doesn’t always have to mean a processed, often high-sugar option. We all know that life can get hectic, and sometimes finding the time to grab a healthy snack feels like mission impossible.
But with a little bit of planning, you can make sure you always have nutritious options on hand, no matter where your day takes you. So along with the hypo treatments (and maybe snack bars or biscuits under 15g of carbs), perhaps you could also think about preparing in advance some more nutritious on-the-go snacks.
Aim for snacks that are rich in fibre, protein, and healthy fats – these are the building blocks of a snack that’ll keep you satisfied and your blood sugar levels stable. Here are some more nutritious on-the-go options I like:
- a low-sugar oat bar (GRAZE have a great selection)
- packs of nuts (I love the boxes at the checkout in Lidl) or make up a little box yourselves
- A little bag of mixed fruit and nuts
- Savoury oatcakes (Nairns have a great range or Lidl and Aldi both have versions which are slightly kinder on the wallet)
6. Eat snacks for enjoyment
This snacking tip is really important!
Living with diabetes can reshape your relationship with food as I discuss in more detail in my post TYPE 1 DIABETES AND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD and snacks are an important part of your diabetes management.
When it comes to snacks, finding joy in what you eat is key – especially when you’re managing diabetes. Sure, snacks play a big role in keeping your blood sugar in check, but they’re also about more than just numbers. Let’s face it, living with diabetes can sometimes feel like a constant balancing act. Sometimes, you have to grab a snack even when you’re not particularly hungry, whether it’s to treat a low or just keep your levels steady.
But here’s the thing: snacks shouldn’t just be about necessity; they should be about enjoyment too. Whether it’s a satisfying handful of almonds, a juicy piece of fruit, or a decadent square of dark chocolate, snacks can – and should – bring a little happiness to your day. That is why it really helps to think about snacks as part of your meal planning.
Giving yourself permission to enjoy your snacks can actually make managing diabetes a whole lot easier. It’s all about finding that sweet spot between eating what you love and keeping your health in check. So make your snacks as good as you can so that you can really savour and enjoy them. And shift your mindset away from seeing them simply as an annoying part of your diabetes management.
7. Get Creative in the Kitchen
Snacks can be a fun part of our daily diet and the choices and flavour combinations are endless. Particularly if you use the rule above on choosing balanced snacks. Also, they are great for making with kids.
Be as imaginative as you can. Have a good rummage around your cupboards, walk around the supermarkets to see whats new and you can discover. Don’t be afraid to experiment, sometimes it works and you never know, you may discover the next best viral snack!
Keep a good selection of fresh foods along with a variety of sauces and flavourings so that a little can be added to your snack creation which takes them to the next level.
8. Practice healthy snacking
Eat your snacks mindfully, which really is a rule that applies to how we eat all of our food.
It is so easy to get caught up in the many distractions that are available to us today. But as with any food we eat, we really should be doing this slowly and without distractions, such as watching TV or looking at our phones. This allows us the time to appreciate what we are eating, savour the enjoyment and let our brains register it properly.
9. Eat breakfast twice a day!
What? Have you gone completely mad? No, not quite! There are in fact lots of really good breakfast foods which are great for snacking on later in the day as well and there is plenty of inspiration here on WHK.
Here are some delicious and nutritious breakfast foods that also double as satisfying snacks which also help to stabilise blood sugar levels, making them an excellent choice for managing diabetes.
Hard-Boiled Eggs: Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition, packed with protein and essential vitamins and minerals. Hard-boiled eggs make for a convenient and portable snack that can be enjoyed anytime, whether it’s mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
Greek Yogurt: Greek yoghurt is another protein-rich option that can serve as a satisfying snack between meals. Opt for plain Greek yoghurt to avoid added sugars, and customise it with toppings like fresh fruit and nuts.
Oatmeal: Oats are rich in fibre, which aids in digestion and helps regulate blood sugar levels. I love baked otas which you can batch cook or even a small bowl of nutritious overnight oats
Whole Grain Toast: Top it with mashed avocado and a sprinkle of sea salt for a dose of healthy fats, or spread it with some delicious HOMEMADE SUGAR FREE JAM.
Smoothies: Breakfast smoothies are a convenient way to pack in nutrients from fruits, vegetables, protein, and healthy fats. Blend up a smoothie with ingredients like spinach, berries, Greek yoghurt, and almond milk for a refreshing and nourishing snack.
Nut Butter: Nut butter, whether it’s peanut, almond, or cashew, is a delicious and nutritious snack option. Spread it on whole grain crackers or apple slices for a satisfying combination of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates.
10. Snacking at Bedtime
Snacking at bedtime is a common practice for many individuals, whether it’s to satisfy late-night cravings, prevent overnight lows, or simply unwind before sleep. However, the choices we make during this time can significantly impact our overall health, especially for those managing diabetes.
While snacking before bedtime can serve a practical purpose, such as stabilising blood sugar levels overnight, it’s essential to be mindful of the types of snacks we consume during this time. Opting for highly processed or sugary snacks before bed can disrupt sleep quality, lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, and contribute to unwanted weight gain over time.
Instead, consider swapping out those less-than-ideal bedtime snacks for healthier, more nutritious options. Choosing snacks that are rich in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates can provide sustained energy and promote feelings of fullness throughout the night.
What is a healthy bedtime snack?
Whole, minimally processed foods are the best options and some suggestions I found included:
- plain yoghurt
- sliced turkey or chicken breast rolled up with a little cheese
- cottage cheese with berries
These options provide a balance of macronutrients and essential vitamins and minerals, making them ideal choices for bedtime snacking. In fact, we have certainly found that dairy-based snacks like a glass of milk with a plain oat biscuit have really helped us beat some long night time lows.
Snacking Tips in a Nutshell
Snacks are an essential part of our diets, effective blood glucose control and overall diabetes management. By incorporating these 10 tips into your snacking routine, it will help you to make more informed choices that also support your well-being.
Snacks should be enjoyed, savoured and as balanced as possible, to help ensure that they meet your nutritional needs as well. Try choosing snacks that include 2 to 3 of the major food groups and have fun creating these combinations. Being a little more prepared and considered in your snack choices will go a long way in helping you snack better. But remember consistency and balance are key, so listen to your body and make adjustments as needed to support your health and well-being. Happy snacking!
I hope you enjoyed reading these snacking tips! Please leave a comment below and perhaps share your top snacking tips or favourite snacks that you enjoy!
Healthy Snack Ideas
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