Healthy snacks for diabetics don’t have to be boring and flavorless. It’s a myth that diabetics have to eat restrictive diets filled only with highly specialized foods. Diabetics like everyone else, just need to eat healthy foods low in fat, salt, and sugar. To manage blood sugar levels, diabetics do need to be careful when it comes to carbohydrates, including starches and sugars. That’s why we’ve curated a list of nutrient-rich recipes that keep refined sugars and unhealthy carbohydrates to a minimum. Anyone, including non-diabetics, can use this list to achieve a vibrant and healthy snacking life.
1. GO A LITTLE NUTS
Nuts make a healthy diabetes snack because they’re great for heart health and can help to reduce your risk for heart disease — plus they’re at the top of the quick-and-easy snack list. “But portion size is important,” Palinski-Wade says. “Ten peanuts or pistachios are considered one serving, so eating the kinds with the shells on can help slow down your snacking.” Nuts are also a great source of healthy fat and fiber and low in crabs, meaning they help regulate appetite and may improve blood fats, but won’t have a large impact on raising blood sugar.
2. DIP YOUR FRUIT
Fruit spread with, or dipped in, a nut butter offers healthy fat with a good source of fiber, and it’s a quick and easy snack. But Palinski-Wade says to be cautious about selecting the right fruit: “Choose whole fruit that’s lower on the glycemic index scale to prevent spikes in blood sugar.” For example, a small apple with 2 teaspoons of almond butter is a good choice and feels filling. “Make sure to measure your fruit servings, since eating too much fruit can increase blood sugar levels,” Palinkski-Wade adds. A good way to tell: A baseball-sized apple is one serving.
3. GET POPPING
The butter-soaked variety served at the movies isn’t a good choice, but when it’s made in a healthy way, popcorn is a great diabetes snack. “Popcorn is a terrific whole-grain choice with 3 cups having only 15 grams of crabs,” Palinski-Wade says. Remember to keep it light though, and skip the buttered, salted, microwave-bagged kind. Instead, lightly spray olive oil over the popcorn for a source of healthy fat without adding too many calories to your type 2 diabetes diet. Crandall suggests mixing this quick-and-easy snack with a serving of nuts and sprinkling with a little nutritional yeast, an herb seasoning mix, or a dash of garlic powder or cinnamon for extra flavor.
4. MAKE A GREEK-YOGURT DELIGHT
When you’re craving something sweet, reach for a healthy snack with Greek yogurt. A great source of protein, it typically contains less sugar than other types of yogurt, making it particularly good for a diabetes snack. For a quick-and-easy snack, top 1 cup of low-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon of chopped walnuts. Sprinkle with cinnamon for extra sweetness and flavor or just add your favorite berries for a boost of fiber and nutrients — both important when you’re following a type 2 diabetes diet.
5. SAVOR FLAVOR WITH SPREADS
Craving a crunchy, creamy combo that packs plenty of nutrition? Use your favorite veggies as dippers or as a base for a creamy, high-protein spread. For instance, spread two large celery stalks with a tablespoon of peanut or other nut butter, Palinski-Wade says. Or create a single-serving healthy snack of carrot sticks dipped in 1 tablespoon of hummus. Need more zest in your quick-and-easy snack? Crunch on sliced bell peppers dipped in ½ cup of prepared black bean dip for a zesty, healthy snack.
6. ENJOY A SMOOTHIE
Maybe what you really want is a milkshake, but a high-fat, high-calorie soda fountain drink isn’t exactly part of a healthy type 2 diabetes diet. Instead, whip up a fresh fruit-and-veggie smoothie. Include nutrient-packed spinach for a great source of fiber. In a blender, mix 1 cup blueberries, ¼ cup spinach leaves, ½ cup low-fat Greek yogurt, and ½ cup pineapple coconut water, Palinski-Wade says. Add a straw, and you’ve got a satisfying, healthy diabetes snack.
7. GET A BOOST FROM EGGS
Eggs may get a bad rap because the yolks are high in cholesterol, but eggs are actually very nutritious and can fit into most diabetes diets. Eggs are a rich source of protein that only contain about 70 calories and are packed with vitamins and minerals like phosphorous, vitamins A, D, and B complex vitamins. Palinski-Wade suggests serving a hard-boiled egg with a small sliced tomato for a quick-and-easy snack. Just be sure to keep your daily total cholesterol intake below 200 milligrams.
8. TOSS YOUR OWN TRAIL MIX
Trail mix is a handy, portable, and non-perishable snack that’s easy to stash in your desk, car, handbag, or briefcase so you never have to worry about being hungry. It’s also a quick-and-easy snack that incorporates several of the recommended foods for a healthy diabetes diet, including grains, nuts, and fruit. However, the store brands can be high in sugar, so you’re better off making your own, which is a cinch. For one serving, combine ½ cup of bran or other whole-grain cereal, 2 tablespoons of raisins, and 12 almonds. Shake it up and you’re ready to dig in.
9. MAKE A MINI-PIZZA
When you’re craving the comfort of pizza, opt for a mini-sized version that doesn’t skimp on flavor or ruin your type 2 diabetes diet. For a healthy snack, Palinski-Wade recommends toasting a whole-grain or whole-wheat English muffin and topping it with 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce, some sprigs of fresh spinach, a few sliced mushrooms, and a 1-ounce sprinkling of shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese. Zap it in the microwave for a few seconds to melt the cheese and get that warm, gooey pizza taste. This healthy snack has grains, protein, vegetables, calcium, and a lot of delicious flavor that tastes more indulgent than it really is.
10. MAKE A FRESH FRUIT PARFAIT
Create your own parfait to pack for the road or enjoy at home, perfect for healthy diabetes diet. Layer ¼ cup granola with ¼ cup blueberries, ¼ cup raspberries, and ¼ cup low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese. This combination will help you feel full and regulate your blood sugar. “Including a good source of fiber, lean protein, or healthy fat will help you stay full and satisfied, reducing your cravings for less-healthy options throughout the day,” Palinski-Wade says.