Snacks: A Healthy Necessity in a Diabetic Diet

Snacks play a very important role in the daily life of a person with diabetes, particularly those with type 1 diabetes and insulin-requiring type 2 diabetes. For these people, between-meal and bedtime snacks are essential to keep blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible and to help prevent low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Wherever you go you should always carry a supply of snacks to eat in case of low blood sugar (low blood glucose)—we keep snacks in our purse or briefcase, in the glove compartment of our car, in our office desk drawer, and in the sports bag that we carry to the gym.

Here's a list of snacks that can be purchased at most supermarkets.  The serving suggestions supply 12 to 15 grams of carbohydrate or 1 carbohydrate (1 bread/starch) exchange:

  • 1 small apple
  • 8 animal crackers
  • 4 medium fresh apricots or 7 dried halves
  • 1/2 of a banana rolled with 2 tablespoons Grape Nuts cereal
  • 1 cup cubed cantaloupe
  • 12 Bing cherries
  • 2 chocolate mousse bars (Weight Watchers)
  • 1/2 cup chow mein noodles
  • 3 dried dates
  • 2 small dried figs
  • 2 sugar-free fudgesickles
  • 3 gingersnaps
  • 36 Goldfish (adds 1 fat exchange)
  • 3 graham crackers (2 1/2-inch square)
  • 1/2 low-fat granola bar
  • 15 grapes
  • 5 kumquats
  • 3 Lorna Doones (adds 1 fat exchange)
  • 12 loquats
  • 5 slices melba toast
  • 1 small nectarine
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 3 thin sliced Norwegian Kavli flatbread (2 thick sliced)
  • 1 small orange
  • 1 small peach
  • 3 peanut butter sandwich crackers (adds 1 fat exchange)
  • 1 small pear
  • 2 small plums
  • 24 oyster crackers
  • 3 cups popcorn (popped by hot air, or low-fat microwave)
  • 3 dried pitted prunes
  • 15 fat-free potato or tortilla chips
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 2 rice cakes (4" diameter)
  • 7 Ritz crackers (adds 1 fat exchange)
  • 6 saltine crackers 
  • Stella d'Oro Sesame Breadsticks (adds 1 fat exchange)
  • 1 tangerine
  • 15 Teddy Grahams (adds 1 fat exchange)
  • 5 reduced-fat Triscuits
  • 6 Vanilla Wafers (adds 1 fat exchange)
  • 12 Original Wheat Thins (adds 1 fat exchange)
  • 13 reduced-fat Wheat Thins (adds 1/2 fat exchange)
  • 1 cup non-fat fruit-flavored yogurt (sweetened with sugar substitute)
  • 1/2 cup of either I Can't Believe It's Yogurt or TCBY frozen yogurt or Baskin Robbins, Sugar-Free Ice Cream

Seasoned Popcorn
We love popcorn and wish to share some interesting ways to season it without adding calories or fat. You'll need a hot-air popper to make the popcorn (or you can use a popper that calls for 1 teaspoon of canola oil—but that adds a fat exchange).

Using 3 cups unseasoned popped corn, which is 1 carbohydrate (1 bread/starch) exchange, you can make these diabetic snacks.

Asian Popcorn

  • Preheat oven to 250°F.
  • Spread popped popcorn on a non-stick cookie sheet and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  • Mix together 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon five-spice powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Drizzle over popcorn, and toss to coat evenly.
  • Bake 10 minutes, tossing once. Serve warm.

Italian Popcorn

  • Preheat oven to 300°F.
  • Spread popped popcorn on a non-stick cookie sheet and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  • Mix together 1 teaspoon crushed dried Italian herbs, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Sprinkle over popcorn and lightly coat again with cooking spray. Toss.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, tossing once. Serve warm.

Mexican Popcorn

  • Put the popped popcorn in a large bowl and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  • Combine 1 tablespoon dried Mexican spiced salad dressing mix with 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Sprinkle over popcorn. Toss to evenly coat. Lightly coat with additional cooking spray. Toss again and serve.

Orange Popcorn

  • Put the popped popcorn in a large bowl and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle with 2 1/2 tablespoons orange-flavored powdered drink mix (already sweetened with sugar substitute) and 1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel.
  • Toss and coat again with cooking spray. Toss and serve.

Spicy and Sweet Popcorn

  • Preheat oven to 300°F.
  • Spread popped popcorn on a non-stick cookie sheet and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  • Combine 2 1/2 tablespoons spoonable sugar substitute, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon dried orange peel.
  • Sprinkle over the popcorn and toss. Lightly coat again with cooking spray and toss one more time.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, tossing once. Serve warm.

Remember, always have a quick snack with you to help counteract hypoglycemic events (low blood glucose).  If you have type 1 diabetes, this is especially important, which is why we provided this quick list of diabetic snacks.

Updated on: April 15, 2011