The prevalence of Diabetes in America is tremendous and continues to grow. Consider these statistics*:
- 23.6 million children and adults have Diabetes;
- 24% of that total number are undiagnosed;
- 57 million people are pre-diabetic, and
- 1.6 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people 20 years of age and older each year.
Clearly, the appropriate treatment of Diabetes is critical to managing the disease and preventing future complications.
Marsha, one of Daytime’s loyal viewers, wrote to me not long ago asking about healthy snacks for those with Type 2 Diabetes, the most common form of the disease.
For Diabetics, snacks should be kept between 100 and 150 calories, since weight control is frequently a concern for people with this disease; weight loss can improve insulin sensitivity and glycemic control, reduce triglycerides, LDL or “bad” cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
By eating three or more small meals a day [comprised of high-quality carbs, protein and “good” fats] and enjoying healthy snacks between meals, you can keep hunger at bay and prevent low blood sugar.
Here are some smart snack options for Diabetics:
- Apples, oranges, and pears are fruits that have a low glycemic index. Combined with cheese, you’ll be eating a nutrient-rich snack that will help keep blood sugar stable.
- Homemade, air-popped popcorn can be a fun, creative snack. Top it with a bit of spray butter, garlic powder and pinch of French sea salt.
- Celery and almond butter is a diabetic-friendly version of a simple snack that has been a favorite for decades.
- Dried cranberries or cherries mixed with pistachios or walnuts can help stabilize blood sugar.
- A smoothie made with non-fat Greek yogurt (two-times higher in protein than regular plain yogurt), half a banana, a non-nutritive sweetener, and fruit of your choice is a nutrient-dense snack.
- Sugar-free, fruit-flavored gelatin or non-fat fruit-flavored yogurt, both with or without additional fruit, is also a good choice.
- A snack of ¼ cup almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans or walnuts contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that can actually help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering your cholesterol.
- Low-fat peanut or almond butter on graham crackers topped with sliced banana is a nice, mid-morning snack.
- Mix 1 cup of fresh blueberries with 1/4 cup of walnuts. Walnuts are thought to be good for maintaining normal blood sugar and, like all nuts, are a good source of protein.
- Place one cup sliced, fresh strawberries in a parfait cup and top with two tablespoons sugar-free whipped topping.
- Freeze 10 red or green seedless grapes in a small zipper seal bag and munch on for a refreshing snack.
- Mix 1 cup of matchsticks carrots with 1/4 cups golden or dark raisins.
- If you’re interested in nutrition shakes and bars especially designed for people with diabetes, look for products that contain protein and fiber; choose bars with no more than 5 to 7 grams of fat, and make sure those are mostly monounsaturated fats. Also, check their vitamin and mineral content; some bars contain essential nutrients like folate and calcium.
- For a more savory snack, try salsa with baked chips and a few slices of avocado.
Even if you’ve had diabetes for many years, a visit to a registered dietitian can help, since our food needs change as we age. Further, nutrition guidelines for people with diabetes also change from time to time.
*Data from the 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet (the most recent year for which data is available)