Many of my clients with diabetes ask me if it’s OK to snack. The answer to this question is definitely yes! It is important, however, to choose foods that are nutritious—not just empty calories (meaning regular sodas, candies, and other sweets).
Some tips about snacks
- Snacks should have fewer carbohydrates in them than your meals do; they should also be lower in calories.
- 1-3 snacks per day is reasonable. If you are having multiple snacks between meals, this may indicate that your last meal was too small to satisfy your appetite.
- If you take fast-acting insulin, be sure to ask your doctor whether you’ll also need to take insulin with snacks.
Benefits of snacking
- When people need to reduce their portions at meals, snacks can help to meet the demands of hunger and to regulate appetite.
- Snacks help provide energy during the daytime, when people are busiest. Snacks help provide nutrients that the body needs, like vitamins and minerals.
- By helping to stabilize blood glucose levels, snacks reduce the risk of hypoglycemia between meals.
Set carb goals
Having a carbohydrate goal for snacks is important. Most women who are trying to lose weight, as well as men who are not very active, should aim for a snack that contains 15 grams to 20 grams of carbohydrate (see below). This will be about 100 to 150 calories. Men and women who are active can have up to 30 grams of carbohydrate per snack (200 to 250 calories). Snacks may also include a small amount of fat (5 grams or less) or some protein.
Snacks with 15 grams of carbohydrate
- 1 slice of toast with 1 tsp. of margarine
- 1 slice of bread with 1 oz. of meat, with lettuce and tomato (half a sandwich)
- 1/2 cup of ice cream
- 1 small piece of fruit with 1 oz. of cheese
- 6 crackers with 1 to 2 tsps. of peanut butter
- 1 granola bar
- 6 oz. of light yogurt
Snacks with 30 grams of carbohydrate
- 1 sandwich (made with 2 slices of bread)
- 6 crackers with 15 grapes and 1 oz. of cheese
- 1 ice-cream sandwich
- 1 small order of French fries
- 1 protein bar
- 1 packet of instant oatmeal (flavored and sweetened)
- 1 cup of low-fat milk and 5 vanilla wafers
Supplement with snacks
Choose snacks that supplement your meals. If, for example, you don’t eat fruit at meals, include fruit in your snacks. Have cut-up vegetables with your snacks to increase your daily vegetable intake. Looking to increase your calcium intake? Choose a light yogurt or 1 cup of milk at snack time. Healthy snack choices can be an important part of your daily meal pattern. Keep your carbohydrate goal in mind, and enjoy!