Contrary to what most people believe, healthy snacking is actually an integral part of diabetes management. After all, snacking is not just about gorging on unhealthy and ultra-processed food. If done in a wise and mindful manner, diabetes-friendly snacks will not only help you to stay satiated but also effectively manage your blood glucose as you will have lesser reasons to overeat. People with diabetes are also at the risk of getting bouts of low blood glucose if they stay hungry for long and don’t eat at the right time.
Dr Aditya G Hegde, consultant, diabetes and endocrinology at Manipal Hospitals in Bangalore, says, “People with diabetes could have diabetes-friendly snacks made of fibrous vegetables, protein-rich legumes, nuts and seeds with healthy fats.” He also adds that these snacks should be ideally consumed in moderation which is the case with most food for people with diabetes.
Opt for snacks rich in fiber
Bangalore-based dietitian Deepalekha Banerjee says including fibrous vegetables, beans, legumes and edibles like makhana (fox nuts) are perfect choices for a light yet filling snacks and can replace the high-calorie maida (all-purpose flour) preparations. Fibers don’t get absorbed or break down quickly to release sugars. “This doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar the way carbohydrates do,” explains Banerjee.
Dr Hegde suggests that to make a wholesome snack you could opt for the steamed sprouts salad topped with chopped cucumber, cottage cheese, and tomatoes. “You can add celery, carrots, and broccoli in the salad preparations for additional benefits,” he explains. Similarly, vegetables like cucumber, capsicum, tomatoes, beetroots, and lettuce are low in carbs and high in fibre which make them apt ingredients to be included in snacks for people with diabetes.
Let there be more proteins than carbs
Dr Hegde says preparations like boiled kala chana (black chickpeas) or boiled beans with one tablespoon of lemon juice and light salt for seasoning make a good protein-rich snack. A bowl of yogurt with raw vegetables is also an equally filling and healthy snack.
“A small serving of low-fat, plain Greek yogurt with berries or sliced almonds makes a delectable yet healthy snack. A hard-boiled egg too fits the bill considering it is a great source of protein loaded with essential amino acids. That way you will feel less hungry for dinner. “This could be had with or without a slice of whole grain toast,” adds Dr Hegde.
Ingredients like rajma (kidney beans), kabuli chana (Bengal gram), kala chana (black chickpeas), and legumes like moth (Turkish gram) or moong daal (green gram) are healthy sources of protein and fiber especially when prepared by sprouting, boiling and seasoning with a little salt and lemon juice. These could be prepared like a chaat (savoury Indian snack) and consumed in the evenings.
Banerjee says sprouts with skin add to the protein and fiber gives satiety and regulates blood sugar level by slowing down the absorption process.
Shun salty food and opt for diabetes-friendly snacks
Nutritionist Nidhi Nigam says if you prefer savoury snacks then opt for something like Makhana (fox nuts) instead of munching on salty namkeens or fried items. However, don’t go overboard with Makhana because it contains carbs. It is best to mix it with peanuts so that you get a good mixture of fat and protein from the peanuts.
You can add chopped onions or tomatoes if you like and drizzle some lemon juice or mint chutney on top. Another benefit of makhana is that it is high in magnesium so anybody who gets cramps or body aches can also benefit from it.
She also suggests that instead of deep-fried pakoda, chickpeas falafel (a Middle Eastern patty-shaped fritter) is a healthier choice when prepared in a paddu pan (an iron pan with cup-like holes). Falafel can be prepared in this pan using minimal oil. This way you do not deep fry it.
Nigam says bajra (pearl millet) thepla (flatbread) is a very good alternative to processed snacks because it is high in fiber and offers the highest protein among the millets.
Opt for snacks with healthy fat
Dr Hegde suggests that when it comes to healthy fats people with diabetes can opt for low-fat cheese, such as string cheese or cottage cheese and team it with whole-grain crackers. He adds that soaked almonds, walnuts or pistachio is a good idea to get healthy Omega 3 fatty acids and fiber.
Fruitful snacking for diabetes management
“When it comes to snacking on fruits, opt for diabetes-friendly fruits like apples, figs, citrus fruits, papaya, watermelon and musk melon in moderation,” adds Dr Hegde. Nigam says people could also have something as simple as a sliced apple with healthy almond butter spread on it
People with diabetes are advised to have nutritious and low-calorie snacks as fillers between their meals. Having light snacks prevents them from overeating during their major meals of the day and also keeps their sugar levels from plummeting.
They are also advised to choose fibrous vegetables, protein-rich legumes and nuts to manage the hunger pangs and sugar spikes. Diabetes-friendly fruits consumed in moderation can help in controlling sugar cravings. They can be snacked on when you crave a dessert or something sweet.