A tailored diet that includes healthy snacks can help a person with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of symptoms and complications.
Eating regular meals with healthy snacks in between
In this article, we suggest 28 snacks that may help a person with diabetes keep their blood sugar levels in the recommended range. We include snacks rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats, as well as foods that may help stabilize blood glucose levels overnight.
Some snacks rich in protein include:
- roasted chickpeas
- beans, such as kidney, black, or pinto beans
- tempeh and tofu
- soy nuts
- turkey slices
- smoked salmon slices
Protein is crucial for the growth and repair of tissues. It also helps a person feel full and less prone to overeat.
However, different sources of protein have different benefits and risks. Some animal proteins, such as red meat, may
On average, an adult female should consume around 46 grams (g) of protein each day, and an adult male should consume around 56 g.
But protein needs vary, based on factors such as height, weight, activity level, and state of health. Overall, protein should represent 10–35% of a person’s daily calories.
People with diabetes might try some of these high fiber snacks:
- smoothies with kale
- sprouted, whole grain breads
- whole grain, bean, or chickpea pastas
- spinach and other vegetable chips
- carrots dipped in hummus
- sweet potato
- trail mix
Carbohydrates in high fiber foods take longer to digest than those in low fiber foods. This can benefit a person with diabetes because slower digestion reduces the chances of blood sugar spiking. Fiber also provides dietary bulk, which can help a person feel fuller.
Females aged 19–30 years should consume 28 g of fiber a day, and males 34 g. People over the age of 30 require slightly less dietary fiber.
The following snacks contain fats that can be beneficial for people with diabetes.
- oily fish, such as mackerel and sardines
- almonds, pistachios, or walnuts
- sesame, flax, or chia seeds
However, it is important to focus on the right types and amounts of fat. Obesity and higher levels of body fat are risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
For adults, 20–35% of their calories should come from fats, and less than 10% should come from saturated fats. However, as with all dietary recommendations, this can vary from person to person.
A person with diabetes might try these low sodium snacks:
A low sodium diet may lower blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors associated with diabetes.
A person might try the following before bed:
- low-sodium cottage cheese
- hard-boiled eggs
- sugar-free Greek yogurt
- casein-based protein supplements
A person with diabetes may experience high blood sugar levels in the early hours of the morning. For some people, eating a small, high-protein snack may help stabilize their levels throughout the night.
Some foods are not recommended for people with diabetes, especially those that raise blood sugar rapidly. These include:
- Sweets and some baked goods: Sugary foods, such as cookies, cupcakes, and candy, can raise blood sugar levels and cause weight gain.
- Sugary drinks: Sodas, sweetened fruit juices, energy drinks, and some alcohol mixers contain high sugar levels and can cause blood sugar to spike.
- Energy bars: Snack and energy bars, including those with dried fruit, may have “healthy” on their labels but contain added sugar.
Overall, checking the sugar contents on labels can help.
Beyond choosing the right foods, it is important to understand how fluid levels affect appetite and have reliable ways to manage any cravings.
The following strategies can support healthy snacking for people with diabetes.
Drink water instead of soda
Thirst can feel like hunger, and drinking water throughout the day can help a person feel full.
Meanwhile, limit the intake of sodas, sweetened juices, and other sweetened drinks, as these can contain a lot of sugar. Coffee and tea are suitable in moderation, but adding cream, sugar, and other flavorings can increase the caloric content and elevate blood sugar.
People with diabetes may also benefit from opting for water instead of diet drinks with artificial sweeteners. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed many of these sweeteners safe for human consumption, their overall health benefits remain invalidated by large-scale studies, according to a
Limit processed foods
Processed and packaged foods can contain high levels of sodium and sugar. Check labels carefully to see whether these products fit into healthy dietary planning.
Follow a routine
It can help to have meals and snacks at the same times each day and to keep a food diary.
Spacing meals evenly can
A person with diabetes may benefit from having regular healthy snacks as part of a tailored diet plan. This snacking can help stabilize blood glucose, promote feelings of fullness, and reduce any cravings.
Everyone’s situation is different, however, and a person with diabetes should ask their doctor or a registered dietitian to recommend the best options.