The word snack usually brings to mind foods like chips, cookies, crackers, or pretzels. Often times I hear that people feel guilty about snacking and snack choices, but snacking can actually be a healthy choice. For many people snacking helps to control hunger and blood glucose levels. Snacking can even be an opportunity to eat healthy foods that you are missing or not getting enough of at mealtimes.
Most people snack at least one time a day. Previous recommendations for people with diabetes were for 3 meals and 3 snacks daily. Current recommendations are for individual meal plans that may or may not include snacks based on needs and preferences. Here are some steps to get you on the right tracking with snacking.
Too often snacking turns into mindless eating. Eating to get through the afternoon slump, eating while bored or stressed, or eating while watching TV at night aren’t mindful choices. Before eating a snack, stop and ask yourself “Am I hungry” and “Is this snack part of my meal plan”? If you answer yes to either of these, you should eat and enjoy your snack. If your answer was no to these questions then try to avoid snacking.
Time it Right
It’s important to know your meal plan. Snacks may need to be included if there are more than 4 hours between meals. Know what time your snacks should be. Avoid grazing throughout the day. This will not only glucose levels but could also leave you feeling full before a healthy meal.
Planning ahead is so important for healthy snacking. Plan out healthy snacks to have at home and snacks to bring to work or school. Portion snacks into a small bag or container. Eating from the package leads to overeating. By planning ahead for snacks you can avoid impulse eating from the vending machine or fast food.
Make it Healthy
The amount of carbohydrates people need are different so snacks can vary in their carb content. Some people may can choose very low carb snacks and others may need some carbs with their snack. It is important that you try to include some protein, fiber, and/or healthy fats in your snack. These nutrients help to keep you feeling satisfied with minimal impact on glucose. Think beyond the usual snack choices and try for real whole foods. You can plan ahead to make healthy snack choices that increase nutrient intake without any guilt.
Ideas for Snack (around 15 grams of carb)
Almonds and 1 small orange
Greek yogurt (6 oz.)
Carrots and peppers dipped in 4 tbsp. hummus
Avocado slices on 1 slice wheat toast
Small apple with almond butter
Edamame (1 cup in pods)
Cashews and ¾ cup blueberries
Cottage cheese and ¾ cup pineapple