When the urge to snack strikes, many people reach for foods high in carbohydrates like chips or cookies. But you and your child with diabetes can enjoy a variety of appealing snacks that are low in carbs.
While you may have grown up with the notion that you should eat 3 square meals without noshing in between, snacks can be a healthy part of your child’s diet. Besides curbing hunger, they boost energy and add a dose of nutrition in the form of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
As with meal planning, portion size is important. Plan ahead by counting carb snacks and placing them in zip-lock bags for your child to grab quickly.
Free foods have less than 20 calories and less than 5 grams of carbs per serving. Although they won’t affect blood sugar in small amounts, serving size matters. If a food has 5 grams of carbs per serving and you eat 4 servings, that’s 20 grams . . . and it will raise your blood sugar.
And, carb-free does not mean calorie-free. Some carb-free foods can be high in calories and fat. Free foods are low in carbs and calories, as well as low in kcals and fat.
To control blood sugar, try these healthy snacks between well-balanced meals.
1. Meat and fish: lean deli meat, beef jerky and tuna packed in water
2. Cheese: low-fat string cheese and cottage cheese
3. Eggs: hard-boiled or omelets
4. Nuts: almonds, peanuts, walnuts and peanut butter
5. Vegetables: carrots, celery, broccoli, peppers and mushrooms. Since carb content depends on the vegetable, you should read labels when possible.
6. Salad with 1 tablespoon or less of salad dressing
7. Sugar-free gelatin or ice pops
Fun recipes with kid appeal
Ants on a Log
Who doesn’t like this traditional favorite? Simply spread peanut butter on celery sticks and decorate with raisins so they look like ants crawling on top.
Wheels on the Bus
Try this variation. Instead of peanut butter, spread celery sticks with cream cheese mixed with yellow food coloring (so it’s school-bus yellow). Decorate with sliced black olives for the wheels.
Tooty Fruity Kabobs
Skewer different colorful fruits like bananas, strawberries and grapes. You can use toothpicks for older children. For younger kids, try this safer version: cut a small slit in the center of each piece of fruit and “thread” it onto a Popsicle stick.
Layer sliced cheese, thin-sliced meats and a few spinach or lettuce leaves (for added nutrition, crunch and color). Roll it, slice it and enjoy.
Pop some popcorn in an air popper or on the stove with a little oil. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Salt to taste.
Carb counts for common snacks
Snacks with less than 5 grams of carbs:
- 15 almonds
- 3 celery sticks with 1 Tbs peanut butter
- 5 mini carrots
- 5 cherry tomatoes with 1 Tbs ranch dressing
- 1 hard-boiled egg
- 1 cup cucumber slices with 1 Tbs ranch dressing
- 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 cup salad greens with ½ cup diced cucumber drizzled with vinegar and oil
- 1 frozen sugar-free Popsicle
- 1 cup light popcorn
- 2 saltine crackers
- 10 goldfish crackers
- 1/2 cup sugar-free gelatin
- 1 string cheese stick
- 8 green olives
- 2 Tbs pumpkin or sesame seeds
- 1/4 of a whole avocado
Snacks with 10 to 20 grams of carbs:
- 1/4 cup dried fruit and nut mix
- 1 cup chicken noodle, tomato or vegetable soup (made with water)
- 1 small apple or orange
- 3 cups light popcorn
- 1/3 cup hummus with 1 cup fresh veggies like carrots, broccoli, celery and cucumber
- 1/4 cup cottage cheese with ½ cup canned (without added sugar) or fresh fruit
- 1 cheese quesadilla made with a 6” tortilla, 1 oz. shredded cheese and ¼ cup salsa
- 2 rice cakes (4” diameter) with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 5 whole wheat crackers and 1 piece of string cheese
- 1/2 turkey sandwich (1 slice whole wheat bread with mustard and 2 oz. turkey)
- 1/2 cup tuna salad with 4 saltines
Have fun making and eating snacks with your child!