Most of us, diabetic or not, are prone to a dip in energy levels and the odd hunger pang striking, typically mid-morning and afternoon. As a diabetic, the best way to optimise your blood glucose control is to ensure that you don’t go more than five hours without eating. So if, on a typical working day, you eat breakfast at 7am, lunch at 1 and dinner at 7pm, a snack at say 11 and 4 is actually a good thing. Furthermore, snacking is a good way to fit extra nutrients into your diet and to prevent overeating at mealtimes.
So, yay, you can carry on snacking. However, if your previous habit involved a trip to the coffee shop for a Latte and a cake, or popping to the corner shop for a Coke and a Mars Bar, you will have to take a different approach to the grazing ritual. But rest assured, there are plenty of really tasty, healthy things to snack upon: you just need to plan ahead and stick to some basic principles.
- Protein and fat raise the blood sugar level at a slower rate than carbohydrates.
- Carbs are fine, but the amount consumed for a snack should be kept between 15g and 45g. The GI should be low where possible; grains whole and fibre levels high to slow the release of glucose into the blood stream.
- Be mindful of calories and saturated fat levels. As a diabetic, you are more than twice as likely to suffer from cardio-vascular disease and this risk is compounded if you are overweight with high levels of bad cholesterol entering your blood.
- Always read labels and, certainly in the early stages, weigh everything that isn’t packaged in discreet units: portion size is important.
As I wrote the above, I suddenly realised that I have probably put many of you off and reaching for a stress busting bar of chocolate. Don’t worry: we are all big fans of the snack and have spent several years working out what tastes good and what works: some we all love, some only one or two of us love and me…I love ‘em all!
CARROT STICKS AND HUMMUS
Carrots are low in calories and sugar; an excellent source of vitamin A and packed with the powerful antioxidant, beta-carotene. Hummus is much more calorific (so remember to get a reduced fat variety and weigh it) but is a fantastic food for diabetics. The chickpeas are full of protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates for a steady energy release. The tahini, or sesame paste, are a great source of many minerals and fibre and lower the level of cholesterol in the blood.
RICE CAKES AND PHILADELPHIA LIGHT
Rude Health Multigrain Thins are a good choice (only 28 calories each, very low in fat and over 1/2g fibre in each) as are Kallo Wholegrain with added sesame seeds. Philadelphia Light is yummy, comes in a variety of flavours and is not bad in terms of calories or saturates: don’t forget to weigh it until you know what a 30g portion looks like.
LEAN HAM SLICES ROLLED AND STUFFED WITH PHILADELPHIA LIGHT
A great protein rich snack, but watch the fat levels.
Straight up (with lemon juice and black pepper) is also a great protein fix. Just as an aside, wild salmon has about half the fat and a third less calories than its lazy, overfed, farmed cousins.
NUTS OR SEEDS
Protein and nutrient rich, high in fibre and low GI: nuts and seeds are really good for you. The downside is that they are very calorific due to a high (good) fat content and a portion size looks small (although they are surprisingly satisfying).
BAKED GOODIES FOR THE SWEET TOOTHED DIABETIC
Take a look at my Home Baked Goodies post for some diabetic friendly baked goods to enjoy with a nice brew when the munchies strike.
APPLES AND BANANAS
If you’re really watching your calorie intake, apples are a great snack: no fat or cholesterol; low in calories and high in fibre and vitamin C. Bananas are more calorific, but are also a great source of fibre and antioxidants with the added benefit of high levels of potassium, known to help regulate blood pressure and heart function.