‘There is nothing wrong with eating between meals if you’re hungry, particularly if it stops you from overeating later,’ says Diabetic Living dietitian Dr Kate Marsh. ‘Enjoying three small meals and two or three snacks each day can also help keep your blood glucose levels stable.’ Here’s how to make the most of these mini meals and to better manage your diabetes.
Step One: Make a plan
The size of your snacks – and how often you eat them – depends on your weight, activity levels, blood glucose levels and whether you manage your diabetes with medication, insulin or diet and exercise. Your dietitian can help you build a meal plan that’s tailored to your needs. However, a good guide is to select snacks that contain no more than 10-20g of carbohydrate and about 300-600 kilojoules. (For example, a medium apple contains about 280kJ and 15g of carbs.)
Step Two: Focus on your food
Mindless munching can boost the kilojoule count so you need to treat snacks the same way as you would a meal. This means putting your snacks on a plate and sitting down to enjoy them. And never snack while you’re on the run or distracted by other activities, such as watching TV or working. When you’re not fully focused on what you are putting into your mouth, you’re likely to eat more than you need without realising it.
Step three: Choose wisely
So, what are the healthiest and most satisfying snack choices? Load up on fresh fruit, unsalted nuts, plain yoghurt and raw vegies with dips that have legume, vegetable or yoghurt bases, such as salsa, hummus or tzatziki.
Processed snack foods are often high in fat, sugar and salt, but they are also a convenient option – particularly when you need something portable. When choosing packaged snacks, look for products that are higher in fibre and lower in saturated fat, added sugars and salt. Lower-GI options will help prevent blood glucose spikes, particularly if you aren’t taking medication or insulin with your snacks.