In the treatment of diabetes mellitus (DM), diet is one of the determining factors for the patient to successfully control this chronic disease that appears when the pancreas stops producing insulin or the body loses the ability to use this vital hormone efficiently.
In this process, one of the main challenges that people with DM must face is adjusting to a certain meal plan, which corresponds to their particular needs and contributes to the adequate management of their levels of glycemia (blood sugar).
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), there is no single eating pattern for all people with diabetes mellitus, which means that meal planning must be customized. For this reason, nutritional therapy has a fundamental role in the comprehensive management of this condition, in which each patient must be actively involved in both education, self-control and treatment planning, hand in hand with health professionals.
The first step to eat healthy snacks that represent a good nutritional contribution to your body and help you stay within the desired blood glucose range (from 70 mg / dl to 100 mg / dl on an empty stomach) is knowing how to choose the healthiest options when going grocery shopping and then, taking the time to prepare and even packing healthy snacks to bring with you when you leave home (thus avoiding improvisation and eating out).
The ADA recommends the following snack options, based on the percentage of carbohydrates they contain:
With less than 5 grams of carbohydrates
- Fifteen almonds (salt free).
- Five carrot sticks (baby carrots).
- Five cherry tomatoes.
- A hard-boiled egg.
- A cup of cucumber slices.
- A cup of green salad plus half a cup of cucumber slices, a little vinegar and oil.
- Two crackers.
- Half a cup of sugar free gelatin.
- A cheese stick.
- Eight green olives.
- Two tablespoons of pumpkin or sesame seeds.
- A quarter of avocado.
Between 10 and 20 grams of carbohydrates
- A quarter cup of dried fruits (walnuts, almonds, among others).
- A cup of chicken soup, tomato soup (made with water), or vegetable soup with a small apple or orange.
- A third of a cup of chickpea paste (hummus), plus a cup of fresh cut vegetables (green pepper, carrots, broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, celery, among others).
- A quarter cup of cottage cheese, plus a half cup of fresh fruit.
- Five whole-grain crackers plus a cheese stick.
- Half a turkey sandwich (a piece of whole wheat bread, plus two ounces of turkey and a bit of mustard).
- Half a cup of tuna salad plus four crackers.
Lastly, remember that including healthy snacks within the eating plan that is part of your diabetes mellitus treatment will help you achieve and maintain body weight and glycemic goals as well as delaying or preventing complications from DM. Make sure to eat your snacks at established times and avoid doing it while working in front of the computer, watching television, reading, driving or doing other activities.
Diabetes Journals - ADA [website]. Lifestyle Management: Standards of Diabetes Healthcare - 2019 [published January 2019; accessed May 20, 2020]. Available at: https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/42/Supplement_1/S46
American Diabetes Association [website]. Snacks [last revised on May 13, 2014; accessed May 20, 2020]. Available at: http://archives.diabetes.org/es/alimentos-y-actividad-fisica/alimentos/que-voy-a-comer/consejos-de-comidas/meriendas.html