It’s a bore always having to think about the carb – and especially sugar – content in food. Carbs seem to be everywhere: an inescapable part of eating. But that’s not necessarily so!
There are plenty of foods that have very few carbs. Even if you do want the carbs (since they do give you energy, after all), they don’t have to be the kinds of carbs that give you an instant blood sugar spike.
Low sugar snacks with diabetes can be great for feeding the craving for snacks while also giving you energy and nutrients without sending your blood sugar spiralling. And we’ve come up with a list of 10 of these snacks!
10 low Sugar Snacks with Diabetes
1. Piece of cheese
If you want a quick nibble of a snack, then a piece of cheese could do the trick. Cheese, being largely made up of fat, has usually very few carbs. This includes both soft and hard cheeses.
Try to go for the higher quality cheeses; the more artificial cheeses (such as American cheese slices) may have added sugar and other surprises. Do check how many carbs your cheese has.
And, of course, be aware of keeping a balance with not too much fat in your diet. Our Nutrition Consultant, Sidse explains in her post on diabetes and food, fat is an important part of a diet. However, too much fat could, potentially, lead to insulin resistance, which we refer to in our post “What food for Diabetes”.
In small amounts, though, a piece of cheese could let you experience the delight of a snack without the worries of out of control blood sugar.
2. Veggies in a cheese dip
On the topic of the soft cheese: it’s a great dip. But what do you dip into it? Well, non-starchy vegetables are low-carb (and low-calorie, if that’s important), while being nutritious and fibrous. That fibre slows down the absorption of sugar, which can lead to more stable blood sugar.
So, find a non-starchy vegetable that’s long and stable enough to hold the weight of the soft cheese! This can include broccoli, cucumber, and celery.
Do be aware of carrots though: they are the classic dipping vegetable but they still contain a moderate number of carbs. It’s not necessarily bad to have carrots – you just need to be aware of the carbs they could be providing your body with.
3. Meat slice
Often, pure meat is mainly a source of protein (and fat, the extent of which depends on the type of meat). However, meat is not usually a source of carbs, meaning you don’t have to worry so much about blood sugar if you want a quick snack with meat.
The easiest kind of meat snack will be some form of (non-processed) cold cut, such as a slice of ham. That way, you can just take a small, ready-prepared slice. It’s great for a quick fix when having cravings, such as cravings that might come with diabetes and periods.
The meat could even be mixed with other low sugar snacks with diabetes, like the celery mentioned above. If you want to take your quick meat slice snack to the next level: fill celery sticks with soft cheese, wrap them in Parma ham, and bake them at 190°C/Gas 5 until they’re as cooked as you want them to be.
4. Roasted veggies
If you’re roasting, it also won’t take too long to roast those non-starchy vegetables. This can spice up your selection of veggies – quite literally because you can add whatever spices you want.
In its simplest form, a roasted vegetable can be cooked with just a little oil and salt, which won’t send your blood sugar overboard. We’ve got a recipe for roasted brussels sprouts here!
Other non-starchy vegetables which are great for roasting include kale, broccoli, asparagus, artichoke, mushrooms, and leeks.
Plus your mum will be happy that you’re eating your greens!
5. Energy ball
You’ll probably have seen a recipe for some form of energy ball in a trendy dieting cookbook. Since they’re supposed to be healthy for everyone, they’re also perfect as low sugar snacks with diabetes.
Energy balls or energy bites are usually described as “no-bake”, meaning they ought to be fairly quick and easy to put together. Ingredients tend to be simple, nutritious, and contain little sugar, such as oats (great for fibre and keeping blood sugar stable), peanut butter, dark chocolate chips, and honey.
They are wonderful in their simplicity because you can adapt the recipe to your tastes. Find a recipe, and if you want (for example) walnut or banana in your energy ball, then go for it!
Make sure to keep note of how many carbs are in the balls. Want help with that? Check out “How do you Count Carbs in Homemade food?”!
Do you want help with adding the carbs into your insulin calculation? Let Hedia’s insulin calculator take care of that! See how Hedia takes your active insulin, exercise, and carbs into account by getting the diabetes assistant from the App Store or Google Play.
6. Avocado with crackers
Ok, maybe it doesn’t need to be as prettily presented as in the picture here. But avocado with crackers is super easy to prepare.
Avocado is a great source of nutritious fat with negligible carbs. The avocado can be sliced or mashed, with any seasoning you want added to it (salt and garlic, for example). Equally, it tastes great without any additions.
Then, put it onto your cracker, and voila! It’s ready to eat.
The number of carbs in the cracker will vary but there are certainly fewer carbs in a standard cracker than there are in bread. Swapping bread for crackers could help control a spike in blood sugar. You could even try the bread alternative that we eat here in Denmark: knækbrød or crispbread (which is closer to a cracker, despite its name).
It’s simple, but sometimes the simple snacks are the best ones. We shouldn’t overlook the beauty of a hard-boiled egg. With high protein, and barely any carbs, the humble hard-boiled egg won’t cause your blood sugar any problems.
What if you get fed up with boiled eggs? Eggs are brilliant in their versatility. Fry them! Scramble them! Poach them! Bake them! All of these ways of cooking eggs shouldn’t take too much time and shouldn’t have any surprise carbs, as long as you’re aware of what other ingredients you’re using (like milk in scrambled egg, for instance).
8. Low sugar chocolate snack
Do you have a craving for chocolate? The good news is that chocolate doesn’t need to be sugary. In fact, cocoa powder in itself probably will have little impact on blood sugar levels.
You can test out different recipes with cocoa powder without using sugar. One simple low-carb recipe can involve mixing together cocoa powder, soft cheese, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Scoop the mixture out into separate balls on a baking tray with baking paper. Then, freeze the balls for a few hours.
Then, once they’re out of the freezer, you’ll have a chocolatey, sugar-free snack! If you want to get more adventurous with your low sugar chocolate snacks, you can try recipes such as these chocolate and almond bars from Nicko’s Kitchen.
Many of these kinds of low-carb recipes are referred to as “keto” (or ketogenic). These ketogenic diets might make snacking be easier if the carbs don’t always need to be accounted for. On the other hand, it’s important to take into account how a low-carb diet might affect diabetes.
As Diabetes UK points out, a low-carb diet can be effective for managing blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. At the same time, there is little evidence that a low-carb diet is effective for those with type 1 diabetes.
If you do make any big changes to your diet, make sure to do so in consultation with your healthcare professional.
A piece of fruit is certainly not sugar-free. But as we’ve mentioned above, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have carbs. In fact, you might want a snack because you want the boost of energy that sugar can give you, particularly if you have low blood sugar.
While fruit does contain sugar, it likely will not be as sugary as confectionary. This means that fruit is still relatively low sugar. Furthermore, fruit is often rich in vitamin C (along with other nutrients) which helps to protect cells.
So, if you do want something sweet that will give you energy, don’t be afraid of grabbing a banana!
10. Homemade popcorn
This is a food item we’ve mentioned as an alternative snack to crisps/potato chips in “What foods to avoid with diabetes”.
But popcorn doesn’t even need to be an alternative to something. It can be a great snack in its own right, especially if it’s homemade.
While popcorn contains carbs, it appears to be a fairly popular snack in the diabetes community because of its fibre, meaning that blood sugar rises more slowly. It’s also wholegrain, containing nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and vitamins K and A.
What can be an issue is the high amount of fat (particularly trans fat) and sodium in packaged popcorn. That’s why it’s preferable to make homemade popcorn, where you know how much oil and salt you’re adding. Plus, you can add whatever (possibly low sugar) toppings you like!
As long as you account for the carbs in popcorn, it still can be a low sugar snack with diabetes if you’re not adding sugar yourself.
The Snack hack
Can you avoid taking insulin or other medication for your food with diabetes? Probably not, if that’s what you’ve been prescribed. Insulin serves an important purpose, after all. But these low sugar snacks with diabetes come the closest to a life-hack for snacking (snack hack, if you will).
We’ve been working on our own diabetes life-hack: Hedia Diabetes Assistant. If you’re fed up with the carb and insulin calculation, you can let Hedia take care of that by giving you a recommended insulin or carb dosage. Get a taste of the action at the App Store or Google Play!