Everyone craves something savoury and tasty to go with their evening coffee or tea. As a result, we often binge on unhealthy snacks, usually fried or containing oil. Such snacks are easily available and taste delicious, making them our go-to snacking option. However, it is one of the significant issues that a person with diabetes faces. With so many dietary restrictions, a person with diabetes often finds it challenging to choose the right snack for them. But, with adequate information and intelligent choices, you can easily figure out the best snacks ideas for your mid-meal cravings.
Making healthier choices while choosing snacks is beneficial for people with or without diabetes. Unfortunately, while considering snacks to be a minor portion of our daily meals, we tend to ignore the adverse effects it brings to our body. However, it causes significant harm to our bodies. Similarly, people with diabetes need to be careful about what they consume as snacks. Ideally, foods high in protein and fibre should make for a healthy snacking idea. These foods help prevent blood sugar spikes. This article highlights the best snack idea for diabetes.
Diabetes and the Role of Foods
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the blood glucose in the body is too high. Blood glucose is the primary energy source and usually enters our body through food. Insulin (a hormone) helps move the sugar from the blood into the cells, which will use it as energy. A person diagnosed with diabetes does not make the amount of insulin required by the body or cannot use the insulin present efficiently. As a result, they suffer from type 1, type 2, prediabetes or gestational diabetes.
Foods play the most critical role in diabetes management, like several health issues. The food you consume directly impacts your blood sugar levels. For example, the consumption of carbohydrates leads to a spike in blood sugar levels. Although carbohydrates are essential for your health, they impact blood sugar levels. At the same time, it is also crucial to ensure that your diet contains all vital nutrients to help manage diabetes. Therefore, research suggests that the key to eating with diabetes is to eat a variety of healthy foods. And it’s not just about eating healthy; you should eat foods from all food groups, in the amounts your meal plan outlines.
Diabetes Foods: What Food Groups Should I Consume?
A healthy diabetes management diet plan primarily consists of high protein and fibre-rich foods. However, it is essential to incorporate foods from various food groups. Some of those food groups are:
A person with diabetes can consume starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, beans, sweet corn, green peas, chickpeas. In addition, they can also consume non-starchy veggies like zucchini, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, capsicum, spinach, tomato etc. Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals. Furthermore, they have fewer calories and carbohydrates. Therefore, they can be an excellent addition to your diabetes food plan.
A study found that people who ate more whole fruits had 36% lower odds of having diabetes at five years. In addition, the study also demonstrates an association between fruit intake and insulin sensitivity markers. It means that people who consume more fruits have to produce less insulin to lower their blood glucose levels.
The best fruits to manage diabetes are apples, apricots, oranges, pears, kiwi etc.
The foods suitable for diabetes should contain whole grains like wheat, rice, oats, barley, quinoa etc. A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies showed that total whole-grain consumption was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Several studies demonstrate the role of protein in effectively managing diabetes. For example, research states that protein has a minimal effect on blood glucose concentrations. A slightly higher protein intake (20–30% of total energy) of both animal and plant protein can benefit older adults and those desiring to improve glucose control and weight loss.
The best protein-rich foods for diabetes are chicken (without the skin), eggs, fish, lean meat, peanut, tofu, paneer and chickpeas.
As per studies, there is strong, consistent, and accumulating evidence that dairy intake reduces the risk of type-2 diabetes. In addition, studies further demonstrate the diabetes protective role of fermented dairy products as a whole, including yoghurt, cheese, buttermilk, and fermented milk.
10 Best Diabetes-Friendly Snacks
Most people assume that eating healthy would mean eating tasteless and bland food, which is far from the truth. Satisfying your taste buds while eating healthy is not a difficult task. However, it gets easier if we educate ourselves on diabetes and what foods can we consume while managing it. Once you have the correct information, you can follow dietary regulations without compromising your taste buds. In the process, you don’t feel stressed about the foods you eat and easily prevent blood sugar levels from rising. Here are the ten best snacks ideas for diabetes.
1. Hard-Boiled Eggs
The protein content in hard-boiled eggs makes them an excellent snack for diabetes. One large hard-boiled egg contains approximately 6 grams of protein. Protein helps prevent your blood sugar levels from rising. At the same time, hard-boiled eggs keep you satiated for long, keeping your cravings at bay. Furthermore, hard-boiled eggs do not require much preparation, so make them your go-to-snack.
Almonds are the superfood for diabetes management. They are rich in essential nutrients, which help prevent and regulate diabetes. In addition, several studies suggest that almonds reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases in people with type-2 diabetes. Furthermore, almonds are also a rich source of magnesium, which is usually deficient in people with diabetes. About 30 grams (one serving) of almonds provide 80 mg of magnesium. Epidemiological studies prove a strong inverse relationship between dietary magnesium intake and the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
You can consume a handful of almonds as an excellent food choice for snacks. It will keep you full and prevent blood sugar levels from rising.
Avocado is low in carbohydrates and high in fibre, making it beneficial for diabetes. However, some fibre-rich foods negatively affect sugar levels. But, avocado does not negatively impact blood sugar levels. Research shows that avocados can help people manage diabetes and improve overall well-being in many ways. As a result, it is an excellent diabetes-friendly snack option for you. Since it is fibre-rich, it keeps you satiated for longer.
You can make a quick avocado toast using mashed avocado as a spread on multigrain bread to a slice of multigrain bread. To make it more delicious and protein-rich, you can add half a boiled egg or some boiled chickpeas on top.
4. Sliced Apple with Peanut Butter
Apples have a relatively low impact on insulin and blood sugar levels, making them diabetes-friendly fruit. In addition, apples are rich in antioxidants, vitamin A and C, which help reduce inflammation. As a result, they reduce the risk of cardiac issues in people with diabetes.
Peanut butter is one of the most acceptable sources of protein. It is low in glycemic index, making it healthy for diabetes. In addition, it contains magnesium, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.
You can reap all the benefits of peanut butter and apple through the mouth-watering snack by simply slicing the apples and consuming them with some peanut butter.
5. Black Bean Salad
Black bean is another diabetes-friendly superfood that has several benefits. They have a low glycemic index and reasonable amounts of magnesium, which helps regulate blood sugar. In addition, black beans have proteins and fibre, making them beneficial for gut health. Besides being nutritious and fat-free, beans are also versatile. You can use them as a great side dish or add them to salads, soups, whole grain rice, etc.
Add a few veggies like tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers in a small bowl full of black beans to make a delicious black bean salad. Then, you can enjoy the delightful diabetes-friendly snack and satisfy your hunger cravings.
6. Protein Bars
The role of proteins in managing diabetes is well-known. So, if you are looking for a portion of quick protein-rich food to munch on, you can have a protein bar. However, it is essential to read the ingredients on the label because several protein bars contain unhealthy ingredients to add to the flavour and taste. Hence, be careful with the one that you choose.
7. Yoghurt with Berries
Yoghurts are a healthy snacking option for diabetes because they are low in carbohydrates. For example, one serving of sugar-free yoghurt contains less than 15 grams of carbohydrates. In addition, unflavoured yoghurt is high in protein, making them beneficial for diabetes. For example, a recent analysis shows a 14% lower risk of type 2 diabetes with 80-125 grams of yoghurt consumption per day than no yoghurt consumption.
Studies also show that berries have an emerging role in dietary strategies for preventing diabetes and its complications in adults. Either alone or in combination with other functional foods or dietary interventions, berries can improve glycemic and lipid profiles, blood pressure, and surrogate markers of atherosclerosis.
To make this delicious snack, follow the recipe below:
- Greek Yoghurt (unsweetened): ¾ cup
- Blueberries (or any other berry): ½ cup
- Chopped strawberries: 1 cup
- Take the yoghurt in a mixing bowl
- Wash and slice your berries and put them on top of the yoghurt
- Enjoy the delicious snack
8. Roasted Makhana (Fox Nut)
Makhana or fox nuts are low in glycemic index and contain reasonable amounts of protein. In addition, they are rich in several nutrients and help prevent various diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular issues, cancer etc. Furthermore, the magnesium in makhana also helps regulate blood sugar levels and improves oxygen and blood flow in the body.
You can roast the makhana with a tsp of oil and enjoy a lightweight yet delicious snack.
9. Trail Mix
Trail mix is a healthy snack made by mixing dried fruits, seeds and nuts. Since it contains nuts, it provides a reasonable amount of protein. In addition, the seeds offer healthy fats, which help reduce blood sugar and insulin spikes.
You can make a delicious and filling trail mix at home. However, you should avoid adding dried fruits that contain high sugar.
10. Celery Sticks with Hummus
Celery sticks are low in calories as they contain only 16kCal per 100 grams. Therefore, it helps you manage weight and regulate diabetes. In addition, celery is a fibre-rich vegetable that contains vitamin C, an antioxidant beneficial for your overall health. Celery also has a complex micronutrient profile that includes high levels of magnesium. As a result, it helps with diabetes and reduces stress and anxiety.
Hummus is one of the best diabetes snacks. Besides having a low glycemic index, hummus also contains complex carbs, protein, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and vitamins and minerals. As per the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a 1/3 cup serving of hummus per day, preferably with vegetables, can be a filling and low carb snack for people with diabetes.
Other Snack Ideas for Diabetes
Besides several snack ideas mentioned above, you can consume many other snacks without letting your blood sugar levels spike. Other snack ideas are air-popped popcorns, baked potato chips and salsa, oatmeal, wheat crackers, cottage cheese, tuna salads, tuna burgers etc. Again, options are many; you just have to be watchful about the ingredients.
Diabetes-Friendly Snacks: Foods to Avoid
You should avoid foods containing trans fats because trans fats increase inflammation and lead to a higher risk of cardiac issues in people with diabetes. Hence, you should avoid frozen foods, packaged foods, and fried foods.
Excess carbohydrate intake is one of the risk factors for worsening diabetes. Although our bodies require carbohydrates to function, it is essential to consume them in moderation.
Refined sugar is very harmful to people with diabetes. It directly increases the risk of diabetes because of the impact fructose has on your liver, including promoting fatty liver, inflammation and localised insulin resistance. Hence, you should avoid refined sugar in any form. However, it does not include natural sugar from fruits and other natural sources.
Carbonated and packaged beverages like soda, cold drinks, flavoured milk, etc., contain excess sugar. As a result, they cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
Consumption of alcohol is harmful to your overall health in several ways. One of those is its impact on your blood sugar levels. While on diabetes medication, you should avoid alcohol consumption, leading to hypoglycemia.
Snacking when you have diabetes does not have to be a tricky thing. Instead, it is essential. However, we just need to control our portions and eat nutrient-rich foods. Diabetes is a lifestyle disease that stays with you for life. However, you can easily prevent it from worsening with some dietary regulations. It is only a myth that people with diabetes have to compromise on several foods. The truth is, with intelligent choices, they can easily go about leading their lives without disappointing their taste buds. So, try out these snack ideas for diabetes, and enjoy guilt-free healthy snacking.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What crackers are ok for diabetes?
A. It is essential to check the nutritional value of crackers to ensure that they are suitable for diabetes prevention and management. Every serving of crackers should be less than 200 calories, contain less sodium, carbohydrates less than 25g, and at least 1g fibre per 15g carb. Since whole grain crackers fit into these nutritional values, they are the best crackers for diabetes. In addition, you can look for gluten-free, less salty, oatmeal or other whole-grain crackers to munch on.
Q. Is cheese a good snack for diabetes?
A. Yes, cheese is suitable for diabetes. Most forms of cheese have high proteins and fewer carbs. For example, 30 grams of cheddar cheese has 0.4 grams of carbs, whereas 30 grams of swiss cheese has 1.5 grams of carbs. However, it is best to use cheese with high proteins and low carbs. You can check the nutritional value available on the label. Furthermore, the amount of consumption is also essential. Therefore, you should consume cheese in moderation.
Q. Is ice cream ok for diabetics?
A. Any food product is good or bad for diabetics depending on their ingredients and nutritional composition. Similarly, in the case of ice creams, sugar-free ice creams with no gluten or artificial sweeteners are suitable for diabetics, if consumed once every 3 months, in limited quantities.
Q. Can a diabetic have pizza?
A. Yes, a diabetic can have pizza. However, it is in their best interest to consume it occasionally and in moderation. For example, they can consume a thin crust pizza with lots of vegetables, less high-fat meats, and less cheese.
Q. What foods break down into sugar?
A. When you eat foods with carbohydrates, your digestive system breaks them down into sugar. Some foods that convert into sugar are white rice, brown rice, pasta, oatmeal, milk, starchy vegetables, candy and desserts, white sugar, soda drinks etc.
Q. What is the best evening snack for a diabetic?
A. Like any average individual, a diabetic has several options to munch on for their evening snacks. Any foods low in carbs, high in protein and fibre are suitable for a person with diabetes. For example, roasted chickpeas, a small bowl of popcorn, a handful of almonds, avocado, sprouts etc., make a healthy and balanced snack.
Q. Does diabetes cause hair loss?
A. Not always. But in some cases, diabetes can lead to hair loss. In addition, people with diabetes are more likely to undergo a condition called alopecia areata. The immune system attacks the hair follicles during this condition, and you might experience hair loss in patches on the head and other body parts.