To many people, a snack is a handful of chips or a few cookies. Unfortunately, snacks like these simply add unwanted calories, sugars, and fats. Nutrition experts look to snacks as a way of fitting in missing food groups and nutrients. Snacks also help to add structure to an eating plan, and this may be especially helpful for people with diabetes and/or those trying to lose weight. The structure of regular meal times and snacks helps some people stick to their eating plans.
For most people – even those with diabetes – snacking is optional. Do take your medications into account. Many diabetes drugs increase the risk of having low blood sugar, so you may feel that you need to snack in order to keep your blood sugar from dipping too low. If so, talk to your healthcare team to see if you can lower your dose or switch to a medication that doesn’t cause low blood sugar.
If snacking is right for you, pick something that helps satisfy your hunger and improves your nutrient intake. It may help to think of a snack as a mini meal. Plan to include things from at least two different food groups.There are plenty of quick-to-prepare, inexpensive, healthful snack options. Here are six*.
• 1 small apple with 1 tablespoon peanut butter (~ 15 g carbohydrate, 150 calories)
• 2 tablespoons peanut butter spread on 3 celery sticks (~200 calories)
• 1 hard-boiled egg with raw carrots (~ 100 calories)
• 6 ounces nonfat plain yogurt with ½ cup unsweetened applesauce and cinnamon (~ 30 g carbohydrate, 150 calories)
• Sweet ‘n Salty Popcorn Mix: Place 3 tablespoons of unpopped popcorn kernels into a brown paper lunch bag. Flatten the bag and fold the top down. Microwave on popcorn cycle. When done, add 3 tablespoons salted peanuts and 2 tablespoons chocolate chips (~ 24 g carbohydrate, 200 calories, 2 servings per recipe)
• Chickpea nuts: Drain, rinse and dry the chickpeas from one can. Toss with 1 tablespoon canola oil and your favorite seasonings (such as garlic, chili powder and a dash of salt). Spread out and bake on a cookie sheet at400 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-45 minutes, or until crispy. (~ 15 g carbohydrate, 130 calories, 4 servings per recipe)
• Serve with a glass of milk or a couple of whole grain crackers. Be sure to count the carbohydrates and calories in these too.
*If the carbohydrate content is not listed, the snack is not considered high-carbohydrate. Calorie and carbohydrate amounts are approximations.
By Jill Weisenberger, MS, RD, CDE
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.