Living with diabetes doesn't mean that you need to bid farewell to your afternoon snack. Rather, it means that your snacks should be chosen carefully, within the context of your personal care plan.
To snack or not to snack?
It's a rather existential question for a simple bag of chips, but it's an important one to ask all the same, especially if diabetes nutrition is a focus for you. Healthy snacking can be a good way to lower blood sugar.
People eat for many reasons besides hunger, such as out of boredom or habit, feeling strong emotions or as part of a social event. In fact, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) reports that snacking habits have doubled over the last three decades.
Before you reach for a handful of pretzels, ask yourself if you are really hungry. Consider the control you have over your diabetes nutrition and whether that snack is contributing to your good health. If it is, snack away! If not, make a healthier selection or wait for your next meal.
Healthy snack options
Snacks get a bad rap. Too often, the word "snack" implies a high-fat, high-salt, and high-carbohydrate food. In reality, a midday bite can be an opportunity to fuel your body with essential nutrients.
A quarter cup of blueberries or a few carrot sticks are a refreshing treat and provide you with important nutrients, as well. The USDA lists carrots as an excellent source of vitamin A, while the American Heart Association recognizes blueberries for their antioxidants.
An ounce of nuts or two boiled eggs can give you the protein you need to squash your hunger until dinner. For stronger hunger pangs, reach for half of a peanut butter or turkey sandwich, or a banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter.
If you need a crunch to get you through the day, some light popcorn can fill you up without letting you down. The ADA explains a serving size is three whole cups, with only 12 grams of carbs. Plus it's high in fiber, the UDSA notes.
Guidelines for snacks
The ADA outlines several important points about including snacks in your meal plan.
- Measure your snacks to help control portion sizes.
- Plan ahead by bringing snacks from home, which will cut down on impulse snacking.
- Count the carbohydrates in your snack if that's part of your diabetes nutrition strategy.
- Have healthy snacks on hand so they are ready when you are.
- Consult with your registered dietitian or healthcare team for personalized suggestions on snacking, especially if you are at risk of episodes of low blood sugar.
While mindless snacking isn't a good choice for anyone, a thoughtful snack choice can be an important part of diabetes nutrition. To keep your blood sugar steady throughout the day, keep your pantry stocked with fresh fruits and veggies, protein, and snacks with fiber, such as popcorn. Having the right options available when hunger strikes means you'll be more likely to make a healthy snacking decision.