Kids and Diabetes: How to curb the carbs when your child snacks

For a child with diabetes, snacks offer a way to manage blood sugar between meals. But when it comes to snacking, many people think of common carb-rich foods like pizza, candy bars, nachos and French fries.

Try to keep these foods off limits and help your child choose low-carb options that will not raise their blood sugar or require them to take insulin.

A low-carb snack should have no more than 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Examples include:

  • Non-starchy vegetables and dip
  • Light or plain yogurt
  • Unsweetened dry cereal
  • Crackers and peanut butter or low-fat cheese
  • Low-fat string cheese or cottage cheese
  • A half sandwich (1 slice of bread) made with peanut butter and sugar-free jelly or with lean meat and low-fat cheese

Foods with less than 5 grams of carbs per serving are considered “free” foods.

However, serving sizes are important. If your child eats 4 servings of a food containing 5 grams of carbs, they will consume a total of 20 grams of carbs, which raises blood sugar.

Examples of “free” foods include:

  • Meats and cheeses
  • Eggs (hard boiled, scrambled, etc.)
  • Nuts like almonds, walnuts and peanuts
  • Non-starchy vegetables like carrots, celery and broccoli
  • Salad with a tablespoon or less of salad dressing
  • Low-sodium broth
  • Unsalted sunflower seeds
  • Sugar-free-gelatin or ice pops
Ants-on-a-log is a great healthy snack for kids.

Ants-on-a-log is a great healthy snack for kids.

When it comes to young children, you may have to think outside the cookie jar to come up with low-carbohydrate options that are appealing.

Try these ideas:

  • Use small cookie cutters to cut cheese and fruit into fun shapes.
  • Make the classic snack called “Ants on a Log,” which consists of raisins marching across a celery “log” stuffed with peanut butter or cream cheese.
  • Transform regular yogurt into frozen pops by spooning fruit and low-sugar yogurt into paper cups and freezing them. When the mixture is partially frozen, insert a large pretzel stick to serve as a “holder.”
  • Create funny-face snacks by placing slices of hard-boiled eggs, lunch meat or cheese on top of crackers. Design goofy faces on top with sliced black olives, peas, carrot pieces, nuts and so forth. Use your imagination.

Check out more recipes for kids with diabetes.

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jhaas@chmca.org' About Janet Haas, RN, CDE

Janet Haas is a registered nurse, certified diabetes educator and diabetes program coordinator for Akron Children's Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology.

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