Nutrition Articles

Eating with Diabetes: Smart Snacking

20 Diabetes-Friendly Snack Ideas

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What to Eat: Diabetes-Friendly Snack Ideas
So how do you meet these calorie and nutrition goals in a healthful way? Here are several diabetes-friendly snack ideas that meet the nutritional criteria above. Select a snack that fits into your daily meal plan for calories and carbohydrates but also meets your personal taste preferences. Keep in mind that different foods and food combinations (carbs, protein and fat) affect every individual's blood sugar levels differently. The following chart merely shows some options, but you'll still need to monitor your blood sugar response and find the best food combinations for you.

Snack Carbs Calories Protein
Frozen fruit juice bar, 1.3 oz 11 g 45 1 g
Orange, small (2.5-inch diameter) 11 g 45 1 g
Light popcorn, 3 cups popped 12 g 60 2 g
1/2 sandwich, with 1 slice each bread and lunch meat and 1 oz cheese 13 g 149 15 g
3 saltine crackers with 1 oz cheese 13 g 172 9 g
Apple, small (2.5-inch diameter) 14 g 53 0 g
Sugar-free pudding, 3.7 oz container 14 g 60 2 g
2 graham cracker squares with 1 Tbsp peanut butter 14 g 153 5 g
2 light Wasa crackers with 1 large hard-boiled egg 15 g 138 8 g
3 saltine crackers with 1 Tbsp peanut butter 15 g 153 6 g
Mixed berries, 1 cup fresh or frozen 17 g 70 0 g
Pear, small (1/3 pound) 22 g 81 1 g
Pudding, 4 oz. container sweetened 24 g 130 1 g
Sandwich,  2 slices bread, 1 slice lunch meat and 1 oz cheese 25 g 204 16 g
6 saltine crackers with 1 oz cheese 25 g 231 10 g
Low-fat chocolate milk, 8 oz. 26 g 158 8 g
Light popcorn, 7 cups popped 28 g 140 4 g
6 saltine crackers with 1 Tbsp of peanut butter 28 g 212 7 g
5 graham cracker squares with 1 Tbsp peanut butter 30 g 242 6 g
Yogurt, 6 oz. container (low-fat, fruit-flavored) 33 g 174 7 g


If you have trouble selecting appropriate snacks or practicing portion control, pre-packaged meal replacements (including snack bars and shakes) can be a smart solution for some. In their Evidence Analysis Library, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) states that "Substituting one or two daily meals or snacks with meal replacements is a successful weight loss and weight maintenance strategy." Not all energy bars or weight-loss shakes will meet the needs of people with diabetes, so look for products designed specifically for diabetics, and be sure to read labels to determine if the product you're considering meets your nutritional needs.

Here are a few examples of daily eating schedules that include 1-3 snacks.

1 Snack Example 2 Snacks Example 3 Snacks Example
7 a.m.—Breakfast
12 p.m.—Lunch
5 p.m.—Dinner
9 p.m.—Snack
7 a.m. – Breakfast
12 p.m.—Lunch
3 p.m.—Snack
6:30 p.m.—Dinner
9 p.m.—Snack
6 a.m.—Breakfast
9 a.m.—Snack
12 p.m.—Lunch
3 p.m.—Snack
6 p.m.—Dinner
9 p.m.—Snack


As you can see, snacks can be especially beneficial for people with diabetes, and there really are endless options that can help you stay within your daily nutritional goals.

Source
Adult Weight Management Meal Replacements, American Dietetic Association Evidence Library, accessed September 2011.
Diabetes Care, January 2003.
For more specific information or help, talk to your health care provider. The American Diabetes Association's National Call Center also offers live advice from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday at 1-800-DIABETES or 1-800-342-2383.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian.
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About The Author

Amy L. Poetker Amy L. Poetker
Amy Poetker is a licensed and registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with a master's degree in dietetics. Amy, who has spent most of her career working in diabetes education, is dedicated to the treatment of that disease and the prevention of related complications. See all of Amy's articles.

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