How Diabetics Can Avoid Carbohydrates in Snack Foods

How Diabetics Can Avoid Carbohydrates in Snack Foods

If you have diabetes, you know eating right is important to staying healthy, and that means eating healthy snacks as well as healthy meals. The problem with snacks is that so many contain high levels of carbohydrates that spoil your attempts to manage blood glucose levels. Learning how to identify healthy snacks lets you control those between-meal cravings with ease.

How carbohydrates affect diabetics

Snacks can help you keep your blood glucose levels stable, but if the snack contains a high level of carbs, you're working against yourself. Carbohydrates are broken down into sugar as they pass through your body, causing your blood glucose levels to spike, and you know how uncomfortable you are when that happens.

The good news is you can eat many snacks that aren't overloaded with carbohydrates. You just need to prepare your own list of snacks that can satisfy your hunger without causing problems.

Choose snacks by the numbers

If you want to evaluate a snack food by the numbers, look for one of two things. First, look at the level of carbs a snack food contains. A serving of carbohydrates is 15 grams, and you want to keep snack food as close to that level as possible.

The second thing you can look at is a food's glycemic index (GI), which calculates how much a particular food raises blood glucose levels. According to the American Diabetes Association, low GI foods rank at 55 or less, medium ranks at 56-69, and high is 70 or more. A number of online sources show carbohydrate and GI levels for various food products.

Choose snacks based on recommendations

If you're not interested in analyzing snack food, learn to identify healthy snacks and choose those that appeal to you. In general, a healthy snack is made up of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy products. Here are some examples.

  • Homemade or light popcorn: Popcorn is high in fiber, and one-half cup of unpopped corn only contains approximately 5-7 grams of carbs. Don't load the popcorn with butter, and use spices to enhance flavor. Try using garlic powder, allspice or a small amount of grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Cottage cheese, crackers and fruit: Take one-quarter cup of nonfat cottage cheese, put it on two whole grain crackers and garnish with one-quarter cup of grapes, and you have a refreshing snack that has approximately 21 grams of carbs. The protein in the cottage cheese helps lower your blood sugar and makes you feel full.
  • Hummus: Hummus is a delicious spread with its own unique flavor. One tablespoon of hummus contains approximately 2 grams of carbs. Add some raw vegetables, green olives and whole grain crackers to make a healthy snack.
  • Baked vegetable chips: If you're addicted to crunchy snacks, you can make your own using fresh vegetables, helping you avoid the fats and preservatives in a bag of potato chips. For example, try tossing some kale leaves in a small amount of olive oil, and then spreading them on a cookie sheet and heating them in the oven until crisp.
  • Frozen fruit treats: Rather than an ice cream bar, snack on frozen bananas or grapes.

Start snacking healthy today

Keep in mind that it's not necessary for you to include snacks in your meal plan. If you don't get hungry between meals, and you can control your blood sugar with three meals a day, don't worry about planning between-meal snacks.

If you do get hungry between meals, or if you tend to develop low blood glucose throughout the day, well-planned snacks are the right solution for you. Start today by choosing the type of snacks you enjoy and making it easy to access them wherever you are.