In this article, we will discuss what are some good snacks for diabetics. We all like to snack but what happens if you or a family member has been diagnosed with diabetes.
We were faced with this dilemma when our young grandson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Many times we would be out hiking or bicycling or sailing and decide we want a snack.
Or how about movie nights, who doesn’t love to sit around with a big bowl of popcorn while binge-watching Harry Potter like we do with our grandkids.
Do we need to change our snack options because of Alex’s diagnosis?
How often does he require a snack?
How do I know when he needs a snack?
Why are snacks important?
We all like to snack, some of us more than others.
Some people have a higher metabolism than others and require a snack to tide them over till the next meal.
Our level of activity can also affect whether we require a snack between meals.
This is often the case with kids.
When my kids were small they required a snack between meals and at bedtime but they were always very active.
Our grandchildren are the same.
Alex is a little different because of his type 1 diabetes.
What he eats for a snack is dependent on his blood glucose numbers.
For example, if he is running a little low then we give him snacks with protein and carb. For example, cheese and crackers or peanut butter and bread.
If he is running high, his snack would be veggies and hummus or sour cream which he loves.
These between-meal snacks really do help keep his blood sugar levels balanced between meals.
Fast easy daytime snacks.
With diabetes, it is important to frequently check blood glucose levels.
There have been times when Alex went low but he wasn’t hungry. So how do we treat a low when he really doesn’t want to eat something?
Well, we have found that because Alex is so young (5-years-old) he responds incredibly well to apple juice. A mere 1/4 cup is enough to start raising those blood sugars which is the goal when treating a low.
Here are a few of Alex’s favourite daytime snacks:
- celery and peanut butter or cheese whiz (usually when he is high)
- raw veggies and sour cream or hummus
- cheese and multi-grain crackers
- granola bar (only if he’s low)
- apple juice
- strawberries/raspberries/blueberries with natural Greek yogurt
We keep the snacks fairly small because we have found it doesn’t take much food to affect Alex’s blood sugars. Also, if his snack is too big he won’t be hungry enough to eat his meals.
Since his insulin dosage is dependent upon his carbs eaten at mealtime, we need him to eat his meals.
Some days his sugars are pretty good or even a little high and he doesn’t want a snack. On those days we don’t bother with a snack. There is no point in forcing food that isn’t wanted and isn’t medically necessary.
Do blood sugars really change at night?
Overnight is a very long time to go without food or drink especially for a diabetic.
When it comes to diabetes the numbers can change quickly which is why frequent monitoring is so important.
Before diabetes, all our grandkids enjoyed bedtime snacks each evening.
After Alex was diagnosed it became more important to have that bedtime snack.
It really does help keep him more stable throughout the night.
There are still times he goes low in the night and we need to wake him for some juice.
Once Alex started wearing a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) nighttime checks were much easier. Then he only required a finger poke if he was low.
It certainly made night-time checks much easier and faster, simply scan him and if he’s good to go back to sleep.
Alex has become a pro at this. If you go to check him and he is laying on the arm that needs to be scanned just tell him you need to check him and he rolls overexposing the necessary arm.
A few weeks ago when we had them on the boat for our mini-vacation I needed to do a night-time finger poke. I told Alex I needed to poke his finger and he just stuck out his finger and let me do what needed doing without even fully waking.
He then drank his juice through a straw and even then, he didn’t need to fully wake.
What a champ, he just takes it all in stride. Just proves how resilient kids really are.
When our grandson was initially diagnosed, our daughter and son-in-law worked closely with doctors and a dietitian to help determine the best diabetes management plan for Alex.
Part of that plan is eating a healthy well-balanced diet which includes snacks.
For Alex a bedtime snack is important for a couple of reasons:
- to help maintain stable blood sugar levels overnight
- to help prevent being hungry at the night
So does it always work to stabilize his sugars overnight?
No, of course not.
We are talking about diabetes here, its very nature is to be unpredictable at best.
And, when you are talking about a child with type 1 diabetes, well they are constantly growing and changing.
What worked yesterday may not work today and tomorrow is another guessing game.
You never know for certain how his little body will react to food, drink, exercise, sleep, literally everything he does in the course of a day.
This is what makes working with your diabetes care team is so important.
We try to ensure that bedtime snacks include a balance between a carb and a protein.
Alex’s favourite bedtime snacks include:
- plain yogurt with berries
- peanut butter sandwich, usually 1 piece of bread folded over (without sugary jam)
- hard-boiled egg with toast
- cheese and crackers
Keep in mind these snacks are what a 5-year-old boy likes and are only meant as helpful ideas to think of the types of snacks you might enjoy.
Use your imagination to come up with unique, creative, tasty, and healthy snack options.
Snacks to treat lows
With our grandson, apple juice is almost always effective.
Sometimes we give him five skittles, then test him in 15 minutes. If he isn’t coming up yet we will give him 5 more.
This seems to work well.
Occasionally, we make up a batch of ‘Sweet Cereal Chews’ to keep on hand for treating lows. Alex really likes these as he knows he can only have them if he is low. You can check out the recipe I used from my copy of the Company’s Coming Diabetic Cooking.
Know the signs
Regardless of whether you are a diabetic or a caregiver of a diabetic, it is important to know the symptoms of both high and low blood sugars.
High blood sugar can occur at any time but is common after a meal. Usually, insulin will be injected either before eating or just after eating and the dose is dependent upon the number of carbs eaten. Sometimes we don’t always get this exactly right and the blood glucose levels remain high.
Symptoms of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) include:
- excessive thirst
- frequent urination
- trouble concentrating
- blurred vision
- weak, tired feeling
- unplanned weight loss
- tests high with a blood glucose monitor
Sometimes we give a little too much insulin, or it has been too long since Alex has eaten or he has been more active than usual his blood sugars can drop. This can and has happened quite quickly.
Symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) include:
There are actually three levels of hypoglycemia.
- Level 1 (mild)
- blood glucose is less than 70 mg/dL but more than 54 mg/dL
- may experience sweating, shaking, nausea, extreme hunger, nervousness, dizziness
- Level 2 (moderate)
- Level 3 (severe)
- the person is unable to function because of mental or physical changes
- this is where the person is unable to take fast-acting sugar themselves and requires assistance, they may be unconscious or have seizures. They need to be treated with a Glucagon Emergency Kit.
Keep in mind that some people may experience some or all of these symptoms and some only a few.
Every diabetic reacts differently to food, drink, exercise, stress, and even sleep. This makes it so imperative to work closely with your diabetes care team to determine the best plan for you.
Children grow quickly and their bodies will respond differently as they grow.
With women, your hormone levels throughout the month will affect your diabetes management.
Watch for symptoms and treat highs and lows immediately.
In this article, we discussed what are some good snacks for diabetics and I even shared a few that we give our grandson Alex.
We also discussed the advantages of snacks to a diabetic, particularly a bedtime snack.
We now understand that snacks are an integral part of a good diabetes management plan.
Snacks will help maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day or night.
It is important that those snacks be healthy.
Naturally, if blood sugars are a little low eating carbs will help return those levels to being closer to the range.
If blood sugars are high you will want to avoid carb-laden snacks and opt for lower carb options such as raw veggies and hummus or plain yogurt with berries.
It won’t take long to know how your body reacts to different foods and this will help you better decide on the appropriate snack choices for you.
My favourite cookbook offers great recipes for meals and snacks, you can check it out here.
I am not in any way a medical practitioner, please do not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another healthcare provider. We only share our experiences.
What are your favourite diabetic-friendly snack ideas?
Do you enjoy a bedtime snack each night?
Leave your tips in the comment section below.