20 Easy and Quick Snack Ideas for People With Diabetes


Snacking often gets a bad rap. But if you are managing type 2 diabetes, including healthy snacks in your diet can be a great way to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range and energy levels high. They can also be a great weight loss tool.

Now, with the risks of the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. Indeed, people with diabetes are among the groups at a higher risk for complications from COVID-19, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The good news is that proper blood sugar management can help reduce those risks.


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Snacking may seem like it would play a small part in this, but when planned wisely, it really can be a boon to your health. “Sometimes people think of snacks as an unhealthy thing, but [they] can be quite the opposite,” says Kelly Kennedy, RD, staff nutritionist at Everyday Health. “Snacks provide another opportunity for nutrition, and with a small amount of carbohydrates (15 grams or less), [they] can help keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the day,” Kennedy adds. Eating a healthy snack can also help keep hunger at bay until your next meal, which can ultimately prevent overeating and support any weight loss goals you may have.

If you’re managing diabetes, though, an important thing to keep in mind when snacking is your carb count. Carbohydrates are the nutrient in foods that are broken down into glucose, and they can have a significant impact on blood sugar levels, Kennedy says.

It’s important to consider quantity and quality when it comes to carbs. Bingeing on carbohydrates or having too many simple carbohydrates at once can cause spikes in blood sugar, which in turn can increase the risk of diabetes complications like diabetic neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, heart disease, and stroke.

But, Kennedy points out, “This doesn’t mean that you need to avoid carbohydrates completely.” Instead, eat a healthy amount of good carbohydrates — such as those from fruits and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat dairy, and whole grains — including while snacking.

Consider the other macronutrients of your snack, too. “Combining protein and healthy fats with complex carbohydrates is a great way to give your snacks staying power,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, author of 2-Day Diabetes Diet, who is based in Hamburg, New Jersey. Nuts, nut butters, Greek yogurt, and low-fat cheeses, which are featured in several of the snacks below, offer both protein and fat for satisfaction and blood sugar control.

When it comes to lowering your risk for diabetes complications, maintaining a healthy weight and controlling blood sugar go hand in hand. After all, being overweight can contribute to insulin resistance, the hallmark of type 2 diabetes, according to the Obesity Action Coalition.

“People are often amazed at the changes they see with even a little weight loss,” Kennedy says. Indeed, losing at least 5 to 7 percent of body weight can lead to improved insulin sensitivity and even help prevent prediabetes from progressing to full-blown type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But how you choose to lose weight matters. Remember that a healthy diet that promotes gradual weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is best, says the Mayo Clinic.

Unsure of which snacks are best for weight loss, improving blood sugar control, and boosting energy? Admittedly healthy choices can be challenging if you’re unprepared or have only processed, packaged snacks that contain high levels of sugar, salt, and fat on hand.


Sugar-Free Hot Cocoa Made With Dark Chocolate

a mug of sugar-free hot cocoa

Sip a warm cup of rich-tasting, sugar-free hot cocoa to beat the munchies. One cup of fat-free milk blended with one envelope of sugar-free cocoa mix scratches that chocolate craving and supplies 394 milligrams (mg) of calcium, nearly 30 percent of the daily value (DV) of the bone-building mineral, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Look for a sugar-free dark-chocolate cocoa mix because dark chocolate confers more benefits than the milk or white variety, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Then relax and savor the flavor.



A Combo of Baked Potato Chips and Salsa

As a bonus, the tomatoes and other veggies found in salsa are low in carbs (the salsa contains just 4 g per ¼ cup), making them another good choice for people with diabetes.


A Few Cups of Microwave or Air-Popped Popcorn

Popcorn is the king of comfort foods! But did you know that, according to the Oldways Whole Grains Council, it’s a whole grain, too? Whole grains contain satiating fiber, which can help support a healthy weight, according to the Mayo Clinic. This high-fiber, crunchy snack tantalizes the taste buds as the kernels begin to pop. But be mindful of what you put on top. Select a low-fat variety of popcorn that can be microwaved or air-popped for just 6 g of carbs and 31 calories per cup, per the USDA.


Oatmeal and Berries of Your Choice


Who says oatmeal is just for breakfast? A small study published in October 2019 in Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes found that eating oatmeal for just two days helped people with diabetes whose blood sugar was not within target range to lower their dose of insulin compared with a no-oatmeal control group whose dose of medication went unchanged. A ½ cup of plain, unflavored cooked oatmeal prepared with water contains 77 calories, 3 grams (g) protein, 1 g fat, 14 g of carbohydrate, and 2 g of fiber, per the USDA. Quick-cook oats are high on the glycemic index; steel-cut (aka Irish) oats are a better choice for people with diabetes.

Top your bowl with ¼ cup of your favorite berries — such as blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries — as well as a ½ oz of almonds (a source of healthy fats) for a tasty treat to fill you up and keep blood sugar levels stable for under 200 calories.


A Whole Grain Waffle With Yogurt and Cinnamon


This delicious pick is plenty filling and easy to grab on the go. Toast up one whole-grain frozen waffle for 90 calories and 17 g carbs, per the USDA. Top with 3 tablespoons (tbsp) of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt to add 3.5 g of protein. Greek yogurt contains more protein and fewer carbohydrates compared with traditional yogurt. Dust cinnamon, which is a healthy, natural sweetener, over the top for a quick 110 calorie snack. Or spread on some almond butter for a dose of healthy fats. One tbsp contains about 100 calories, per the USDA.


Thin, High-Fiber Wheat Crackers, Hummus, and Tomatoes

Hummus, a delicious, creamy, and flavorful spread traditionally made from chickpeas; tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds; and garlic, offers a nice combination of flavors and nutrients. Chickpeas, like other legumes, are high in fiber and are lower on the glycemic index, according to Harvard Medical School, making them a good choice to help manage blood sugar levels.

For a healthy snack, spread 1 to 2 tbsp of hummus evenly over 12 thin whole-grain crackers. Serve the crackers with two slices of firm red tomato for an extra vitamin boost — juicy tomatoes provide vitamin C.


These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes


A Small Handful of Crunchy Pistachios for Protein and Healthy Fat


Pistachios contain a powerful punch of protein as well as a mixture of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can help reduce your cholesterol levels, notes the Cleveland Clinic. Lowering unhealthy “LDL” cholesterol can also cut your risk of developing heart disease, a common complication of diabetes, according to the CDC.

A 1-oz portion (or 49 pistachio nuts without the shell) equals about 160 calories, per the USDA. They’re also a good source of fiber, with 3 g.


Baked Cheese Crisps and Sliced Veggies

baked cheese crackers

Select a great-tasting, low-calorie baked cheese crisp or cracker when you want a tasty snack. These are available in the snack aisle at the grocery store. A 1-oz serving from the brand Moon Cheese, which is made from 100 percent cheese, contains just 1 g of carbs.

This snack complements any sliced raw veggie, which is a naturally fat-free, low-cal snack. Cheese crisps taste delicious, for example, with a 1-cup serving of cool, crisp, and hydrating cucumber slices.


Crunchy, Sliced Peppers and Low-Fat Garden Dip

a plate of sliced peppers

You can really indulge with this one! Slice 1 cup of sweet-tasting red bell peppers into strips for a crunchy snack, which, according to the USDA, contains more than 100 percent of the vitamin C you need in a day. Dunk them in ¼ cup of a creamy, low-fat garden vegetable dip to complete the snack.

You can buy a ready-made dip or make your own by mixing a prepackaged blend of seasonings with low-fat sour cream, low-fat cottage cheese, or plain low-fat Greek yogurt.

Any way you slice it, you’ll enjoy the satisfying flavors in this good snack for people with diabetes.



Fresh, Lowfat Mozzarella and Juicy Tomatoes


“Fresh mozzarella and tomato is another good choice,” says Palinski-Wade. When it comes to cheese, the ADA recommends eating reduced-fat or regular cheese in small amounts. One oz of fresh mozzarella supplies 6 g protein and 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated), according to the USDA. One cup of grape tomatoes has 8 g of carbs. Skip the dressing and opt for a drizzle of heart-healthy olive oil or balsamic vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper for flavor. In total, this snack is about 130 calories.


Calcium-Rich Nonfat Greek Yogurt With Fruit

a bowl of greek yogurt with berries

A 1-cup container of plain nonfat yogurtwith some fresh fruit is a nearly perfect snack — it’s a sweet treat that is also nourishing.

Yogurt provides a balanced intake of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, while the fruit adds disease-fighting antioxidants to your diet, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fruit is also a good source of heart-healthy and digestion-friendly fiber. If you haven’t yet, try Greek yogurt, which has a satisfyingly rich texture and more protein than regular yogurt. One cup of Greek yogurt contains an impressive 24 g of protein, according to the USDA.

Yogurt is also a source of probiotics, which play a role in good gut health. A study published in January 2017 in Advances in Nutrition suggested that combining fruit and yogurt enhances their benefits, since together they offer both probiotics as well as prebiotic fiber (which feeds the probiotics), a one-two punch that may aid in weight loss and improve heart health, making it an especially good snack specifically for those who have type 2 diabetes.


Heart-Healthy Avocado and Lime


One of Palinski-Wade’s favorite go-to snacks is an avocado. Not only is this superfood one of the best sources of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats around, it’s also a time-saving snack that’s easy to slice and go. Avocado is packed with fiber, and though it’s considered a fruit, it’s a low-sugar option, making it ideal to incorporate in a diabetes diet, notes the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Try topping your slices with a squeeze of lime juice and a bit of sea salt for extra flavor. It’s important to remember that avocados are calorie-dense, so be aware of proper portion size. According to the USDA, a ½-cup portion (about ½ of an avocado) is a manageable 120 calories and, with 5 g of fiber (an excellent source), will keep you feeling full until your next meal.



Store-Bought or Homemade Sugar-Free Frozen Juice Bars

frozen fruit popsicles

Cool your cravings with a sugar-free frozen fruit pop. This refreshing snack is perfect on a hot afternoon — or anytime, really!

Try a variety of fruit flavors to mix it up for your taste buds, and look for frozen juice bars that have 70 calories or fewer. One sugar-free pop has about 6 g of carbs according to the USDA, which fits into snack recommendations. (It’s also sodium- and fat-free, to boot.) Or make your own ice pops by freezing 4 oz of unsweetened juice in molded containers and adding your own sticks, which also supplies 15 g of carbs.



Peanut Butter and Jelly on a Whole-Grain English Muffin

a basket of whole-grain english muffins with jelly on the side

The good news about PB: Including it in your breakfast can help improve satiety, reduce hunger, and decrease after-meal glucose levels, according to a small, past study.

Spread 1 tbsp on ½ of a high-fiber, whole-grain English muffin for a wholesome, nourishing snack. One option, Natural Creamy Jif Peanut Butter Spread, roughly contains 85 calories, 8 g fat (including 1.75 g saturated fat), 4 g carbs, and 3.5 g protein. Meanwhile, one whole-grain English muffin from Thomas has an estimated 120 calories, 1 g fat (including 0.5 g saturated fat), 23 g carbs, and 5 g protein.

Top it off with 1 tbsp of sugar-free jelly for a PB&J that is not only satisfying but also good for you. Smucker’s Sugar-Free Strawberry Preserves, for example, contains no fat or protein, and only 5 g carbs.


Sweet and Savory Pears and Prosciutto


Jennifer Shrodes, RD, CDCES, at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, recommends that people with diabetes prioritize blood sugar-friendly choices — and make them incredibly tasty. One classic protein-and-carb combo is ½ of a piece of fruit, like an apple or pear, with thinly sliced prosciutto, which is dry-cured ham.

Here’s what you’ll get from this fancy-feeling snack: Two thin slices of prosciutto contain 70 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 1 g carbs, and 8 g protein, according to the USDA. One-half of a juicy pear has 50 calories, no fat or protein, and about 14 g of carbs, per the USDA. (Vegetarian? Swap prosciutto for a string cheese.)


Refreshing Cantaloupe and Creamy Cottage Cheese

a wedge of cantaloupe with cottage cheese

Low-fat and low-sodium cottage cheese enhances the natural sweetness of cantaloupe in this snack. Top 1 cup of cut-up melon with ¼ cup of low-fat cottage cheese. The melon is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, per the USDA. Plus, the low-fat cottage cheese adds 7 g of protein to the snack and supplies a good source of calcium. Add a sprig of mint to add a punch of color and flavor.



High-Protein, Low-Calorie Shrimp Cocktail


Fresh shrimp is an easy win for snacking to stabilize your blood sugar. Make sure that your shrimp is steamed, boiled, or sauteed, as eating fried shrimp will add unhealthy saturated fat. Eating fried seafood one or more times per week is also associated with a 14 percent increased risk for diabetes, according to a study published in March 2017 in the European Journal of Nutrition. Each shrimp with cocktail sauce equals 28 calories, 4 g protein, no fat, and 2 g carbohydrate, per the USDA.

Cocktail sauce will provide sodium. To reduce the salt in this snack, Palinski-Wade suggests enjoying the shrimp with fresh salsa or chopped tomatoes. Shrimp cocktail is a great pick if you’re dining at a restaurant or ordering in and want a healthy appetizer that won’t spike your blood sugar and send it crashing later.


A Couple of Dark Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

chocolate covered strawberries

Strawberries are naturally fat-free, making them a healthy choice for diabetes, and they’re also rich in vitamin C. One cup provides your entire DV of the vitamin, according to the USDA. Their sweetness when they’re ripe makes this snack taste rich and decadent, too.

Dip these juicy fruits in creamy dark chocolate to create a thin coating. Dark chocolate has less added sugar compared with milk chocolate, notes the USDA. This added dimension of flavor will have you savoring each bite. Mind your portions: Three to four of these chocolate-covered berries have 13 g of carbs and 120 calories.


Sugar-Free Fruit-Flavored Gelatin Topped With Fat-Free Whipped Cream

a bowl of gelatin with whipped cream

A sparkling, fruit-flavored gelatin (go with ½ cup) topped with whipped cream is refreshing and pleasantly satisfying.

You can make this snack completely guilt-free by choosing a sugar-free gelatin — a snack-sized container of gelatin made with low-calorie sweetener contains 13 g of carbs for less than 60 calories, per the USDA. Top it with 1 tbsp of sugar-free whipped topping to add some sweetness for an additional 1 g of carbs.



Fat-Free and Sugar-Free Frozen Yogurt With a Fruit Topping

Enjoy this cool, creamy, low-cal snack anytime — just be sure to stick to a ½-cup portion. One brand, Kemps, sells a vanilla version, which has 24 g of carbs and no added sugar, and is a good source of calcium for a 2/3-cup serving (180 mg, to be exact).

To add variety, try different flavors, and feel free to top the frozen yogurt with a few small berries or a teaspoon of chopped nuts — this will add even more flavor, texture, and nutrition.


These Green Veggies are bad for Diabetes