26 Healthy Snack Ideas by Expert Nutritionists - TheDiabetesCouncil.com
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26 Healthy Snack Ideas by Expert Nutritionists

The role of nutrition in the management of diabetes is critical. One must keep in mind to have the right balance of carbs, fats, proteins, fiber and much more when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Your blood glucose levels will respond and fluctuate based on the consumption of food you intake. While it is important to keep track of your meals, it is also equally important to make sure you snack appropriately during the day to keep your sugar levels from going low.

Snacking can be misleading for those who have diabetes.  With so many options for snacks available in your local grocery store, what exactly do you go for without breaking your recommended carb or protein numbers? We have curated a panel of 26 experts who share below their tried and most effective snacks that are good for people with type 2 diabetes and those who have predibates.

1. Jessica Stamm, RDN

Healthymediumnutrition.com

Generally speaking, for those with Type II Diabetes or those who are prediabetic, I recommend the use of ‘paired snacks’. What is a ‘paired snack’? It is a snack that has one food item which is high in fiber paired with a food item that has lean protein/healthy fat. The reason why I recommend paired snacking to clients is to make sure that their snacks carry enough oomph to get them through until the next meal.

Ideally, clients are consuming some type of food for fuel every 3-4 hours. You want to make sure that the fuel you choose keeps blood sugar balanced as well as fills you up until the next meal comes; a paired snack can do both for you! Some delicious examples of paired snacks include: Plain Greek yogurt with berries and unsweetened cocoa powder, whole grain crackers (ie: Ak-Mak) with cashew butter and nutmeg, Caprese skewers with cherry tomatoes, basil and string cheese, and turkey rolls with slice of low-sodium turkey wrapped around rainbow carrots with a dip of hummus. For more tips and ideas feel free to visit Healthy Medium Nutrition’s social media sights: For more tips and ideas feel free to visit https://www.healthymediumnutrition.com/

2. Ryan Whitcomb, RD, CLT

Gutrxn.com

One of my favorite snacks is homemade popcorn popped in walnut oil with either a handful of nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc…) or a string cheese. Popcorn is a whole grain that’s full of fiber, which not only promotes regularity but also prevents blood sugar from spiking too quickly. The hull contains many antioxidants, which scavenge free radicals and prevent mutations in DNA. The nuts and/or cheese provide fat and protein, which not only work to prevent a quick rise in blood sugar, but also promote the feeling of fullness. The best part about this snack? It’s delicious without any sugar!

Another great snack is whole grain Wasa crackers with either cold cuts, tuna, avocado or any kind of nut butter. The carb/protein combination is not only filling, but the crunch from those crackers is more satisfying than potato chips!

3. Jamie Yacoub, MPH, RDN

Linkedin.com/jamieyacoub

When choosing snacks for blood sugar control with prediabetes and diabetes type 2, focus on protein, healthy unsaturated fats, and fiber. Also, mainly plant-based snacks are always better for your health than a diet higher in meats and dairy. Hummus, unsalted and unsweetened nuts, or natural nut butters are sources of healthy fat and protein. They’re great paired with sliced veggies such as tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, and celery. If you find you have low blood sugar which sometimes happens if you take diabetes medications, you may need a snack that includes more carbohydrate.

In this case, it would be better to pair the hummus, nuts, or nut butter with a complex carbohydrate that has fiber such as a serving of whole wheat crackers or fruit. Another idea is to make or buy unsalted trail mixes with no added sugars, that include nuts and seeds, and unsweetened dried fruits such as raisins, dried cranberries, and goji berries.

The purpose of this information is to give guidelines, and should not be used in place of individualized medical advice provided by your doctor. Always speak with your healthcare providers before making dietary changes.

4. Jackie Newgent, RDN

Jackienewgent.com

Snack needs will vary based on several factors, including overall calorie needs, carbohydrate limits, and physical activity. But, in general, for either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, I suggest planning healthy, tasty snacks into your overall meal plan that provide 150 to 200 calories and combine protein, some healthy fat, and up to 20 grams carbohydrates.

Three of my favorites include hummus plate (1/4 cup hummus, 1 cup fresh seasonal non-starchy veggies, 4 whole grain pita chips); popcorn trail mix (1 cup air-popped organic popcorn, 3 tablespoons nuts, 1 tablespoon dried fruit); and Mexican snack bowl (1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1/3 cup black beans, 1/4 cup sliced avocado, 1 tablespoon salsa verde, fresh cilantro leaves for garnish).

5. Leyla Muedin, MS, RD, CDN

Drhoffman.com

An important objective for those with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes is control and maintenance of healthy blood sugar levels. Since both of these conditions are defined as conditions of carbohydrate intolerance, it is important to keep dietary carbohydrates on the low side and concentrate on proteins and healthy fats when choosing snacks.

I often recommend nuts and seeds—Nature’s original functional foods. Loaded with important micronutrients, protein, and healthy fats, they’re also portable. Best to limit these snacks to two ounces per day since they pack a lot of calories. Alternatively, smear a teaspoon of nut butter to a quarter of an apple

Other options include: a hard boiled egg, a tablespoon or two of chicken salad on a celery stalk or on a couple of cucumber slices or endive leaves (think canape). The leftover salmon, chicken drumstick or sliced steak from lunch or dinner the day before are other good alternatives for between meal snacks.

6. Jenna Hollenstein, MS, RDN, CDN

Eat2love.com

As an Intuitive Eating counselor, I work with clients to discover what they find truly satisfying and nourishing. This obviously varies widely between people and even within the same person from day to day. Generally, a combination of protein, complex carbohydrate (containing fiber), and good fat creates a satisfying snack that is both delicious and helps maintain consistent blood sugar levels.

Some examples might include a crisp apple with nut butter, whole grain crackers like Wasa with peanut butter and jelly, whole milk yogurt with berries and whole grain granola, or homemade trail mix including dried figs, salted almonds, and chocolate chips. The key is choosing foods you like and that feel good in your body and then letting your body determine how much you need to eat to feel satisfied.

7. Megan S. Wroe, MS, RD

Personalrd.com

When planning snacks to control blood sugar and reduce inflammation, the key is to choose lower glycemic carbohydrates and to balance carbohydrates with protein, fat, and fiber. Below are some snack ideas that meet these guidelines:

8. Mascha Davis, MPH, RDN, Spokesperson of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Nomadistanutrition.com

Healthy snacks for those with pre-diabetes and diabetes are essential. Not only do snacks help curb hunger, they are also a key part of maintaining blood sugar within optimal levels and managing the body’s insulin response.
Key pointers for snacks are: include healthy fats, some protein, and some carbs. Ideally, there will be some fiber in the snack as well as this contributes to fullness and also helps to manage blood sugar levels.

There are so many great options that include quick bars when you have no time to prep a snack and also whole foods (always best!) that you can combine to make a delicious and healthy snack.

Some of my favorites include:

9. Kelsea Cregut, RDN

Linkedin.com/kelseacregut

Healthy snacking is a key component to managing prediabetes or type two diabetes. A healthy snack should consist of 15-20 grams of fiber-rich carbohydrates, paired with a source of protein and healthy fat. Pairing a carbohydrate with protein and healthy fats can help to keep your blood sugar stable and feeling satisfied until your next meal. Below is a list of simple and healthy snacks ideas.

10. Brenda Ruckstuhl, MS, RD, CDE

Bruckstuhl.com

when counseling my clients with diabetes or pre-diabetes regarding snacking we talk about examples of snacks that have 2 food groups, generally a protein and carbohydrate such as a piece of fruit coupled with pre-portioned nuts or string cheese. A combination of food groups can help with satiety and satisfaction and provide different nutrients and textures. In addition, using foods like fruit and string cheese or pre-portioned nuts can help with portion control. For most of my clients, we discuss snacks that have 15-25 grams of carbohydrate and are between 100-150 calories.

Many of my clients have trouble with “autopilot eating” when it comes to grain products as snack foods (i.e.) crackers, chips, pretzels etc…) We discuss being intentional and mindful about snacking by sitting and eating at a table and portioning out a specific amount versus eating directly out of the container. Taking food from larger containers and making pre-portioned bags that are ready to go can be helpful.

I encourage my clients to try to have snacks that include food groups other than grains in order to save grains for mealtime. Some examples of healthy snacks may be cut up veggies with pre-portioned hummus, edamame, roasted chickpeas, or greek yogurt and fruit. If choosing grains, high fiber crackers with some avocado and sliced tomato are tasty as well favorite of many, popcorn.

11. Pamela Bonney, MS, RD, CDN

Triedandtruenutrition.com

an apple (or carrot or celery stalk) with 2 tablespoons of nut butter (no-sugar-added sunflower seed butter is a great alternative to those allergic to nuts)

12. Melissa Dorval Pine, R.D.

Twitter.com/dietmdrd

For individuals with Diabetes it important to incorporate snacks in between meals to help control blood glucose levels. Depending on your calorie needs to reach or maintain your goal weight, you will likely need to incorporate one to two servings of carbohydrates (a carbohydrate serving provides 15 grams of carbohydrates). I recommend combining the carbohydrate along with a protein serving, for a snack that provides satiety and will hold you over until your next meal.

For added convenience and portion control, it’s a great idea to portion out crackers, tortilla chips and other carbohydrate snacks such as pretzels, in small snack size plastic baggies for easy on the go snacking. Some snack combinations that I would recommend are as follows. Please note, serving size may vary based on your calorie requirements (check with your dietitian for actual portion size for your needs):

Happy snacking!

13. Kim Shapira M.S.,R.,D.

Kimshapira.com

With diabetes or prediabetes, the trick is to always maintain your blood sugars! Which means that you want to balance your carbohydrates, proteins, and fats at each meal and each snack! An example of this -: a slice of bread with 2 teaspoons of a nut butter with a half of a banana – the carbohydrates are in your banana and bread, your protein is in your bread and nut butter, lastly you’re fat is in the peanut butter this helps maintain your blood sugar!
Some examples:

Take care and happy eating!

14. Carolina Guizar, MS, RDN, CDN

Eathority.com

For anyone who is pre-diabetic or diabetic, the key to optimal blood sugar control is a combination of high fiber carbohydrates with lean protein and/or healthy fats. The carbohydrate supplies you with steady source energy that is slowly absorbed due to the fibers in the food. The protein or fat also provide energy and further slow the absorption of carbohydrate. This combination of nutrients prevents spikes in blood sugar while providing maximum satiety between meals.

If properly portioned and within consumed within a calorie controlled meal pattern, this winning snack combination also has the added benefit of assisting with weight loss or maintenance. My client favorites include one GG Bran Crispbread with a Laughing Cow cheese triangle and 1 tbsp of tomato sauce, a medium pear with one tablespoon of nut butter or a 150-calorie Greek yogurt with a small handful of walnuts.

15. Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN

Jessicacordingnutrition.com

Ideally, you want a snack that provides a combination of protein and/or healthy fat and slow-burning complex carbs to support stable blood sugar. Some of my top healthy snack suggestions for people with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are a piece of cheese (about an ounce) and a half-cup of grapes or other fruit; a serving of plain low-fat Greek (not fat-free) with berries, or half of a baked sweet potato topped with a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter.

16. Stacey Antine, MS, RDN

Healthbarnusa.com

When choosing a healthy snack it’s best to plan ahead to limit the amount of packaged, highly processed foods that are so conveniently available. You want to satisfy for your hunger and get a good nutritional balance of energy and nutrients your body needs. Before eating a snack, ask, “is there a healthy fat, protein, and whole grain?” All three components make up a healthy snack!

Some ideas would be guacamole with black beans scooped with organic, GMO-free corn chips; low-fat cheese served with whole grain crackers and blueberries; peanut or almond butter on a slice of whole grain bread. And, remember to keep your snack within the modest portion so you leave room for a delicious, healthy dinner.

17. Adena Neglia MS, RD, CDN

Brownmedinanutrition.com

For people with pre-diabetes and diabetes, a general rule of thumb for snacks is to have ~15-20 grams of carbohydrates paired with protein or fat. Snacking is beneficial for keeping blood sugars stable and to avoid overeating at meals. Some good snack choices include:

18. Sarika Sewak MPH, RDN and Elana Sussman RDN, CPT, CLE, CLT

Littlelegumes.com

Snacking has gotten a bad rap in our opinion for being a major culprit in helping people pack on the pounds. True, over-snacking on foods of low nutritional value can compromise your weight loss goals, however mindful snacking can fuel your metabolism, decrease cravings, prevent binges and keep hunger at bay between meals.

Here are some tips on snacking smart!

Here are some healthy snack suggestions.

19. Barbie Cervoni, RD, CDE

Verywell.com

Snacks can play a role in diabetes management by curbing hunger, keeping blood sugars stabilized, and if chosen wisely, packing a big nutrition punch. If you have diabetes, prediabetes, are working on your weight, or simply want to eat healthier, aim to keep your snack calories controlled (no more than 200) and portion control your carbohydrates. Most people benefit from keeping their carbohydrates to around 15-20 g per snack. Keep in mind, though, that if you are snacking pre or post workout, you may need to ingest more. Be sure to ask your dietitian or certified diabetes educator. Also, note that these snack ideas are not meant to treat low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

It’s important to choose snacks that contain fiber and protein. This combination will keep you full, satisfied and will reduce the risk of a big blood sugar rise. Avoid processed carbohydrates like chips and cookies and, instead, choose whole grains (such as popcorn), low-fat yogurt, fresh whole fruit, nuts, seeds and nut butters. Some good options include:

20. Sarah Mirkin, RDN, CPT

Kitchencoachrd.com

Studies show that carbohydrates trigger inflammation that lead to not only diabetes but most major health conditions. The snacks I recommend to diabetics are the same that I recommend to the majority of my clients. They include a combo of protein and fiber. Eating carbohydrates alone for snacks typically cause a spike in blood sugar, and hunger shortly after,

Snack ideas:

  1. Turkey wrap around a string cheese with a lettuce leave and Dijon mustard alongside grape tomatoes
  2. A handful of Nut’s with berries
  3. 1/2 an apple with almond butter
  4. A flavored tuna pouch with baby bell peppers or grape tomatoes
  5. Sugar snap peas
  6. 1 cup lentil or bean soup
  7. Greek yogurt with berries and nuts
  8. A hard-boiled egg ( or 2) with 1/3 cup baby carrots
  9. A whole grain corn tortilla slider with shrimp or chicken, cheese, and salsa
  10. Cottage cheese mixed with berries and sunflower seed butter
  11. Baby bell peppers stuffed with laughing cow light cheese
  12. Nuts with a small orange
  13. 1/2 small avocado filled with tuna salad
  14. Meatless chicken nuggets
  15. 1/4 c Humus with bell pepper
  16. 1/3 cup baby carrots dipped in sunflower seed butter
  17. Broccoli with a slice of melted cheese
  18. Grilled Chicken strips wrapped in lettuce leaves with canola mayonnaise and/or mustard
  19. Veggies dipped in Savory Greek yogurt
  20. Almond butter pouch

21. Paula Ochoa

Linkedin.com/paula-ochoa

For optimal blood sugar levels, having a snack that contains 2-3 food groups is recommended, such as complex carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Rice cakes are a great source of carbohydrates that can be used as a bread substitute – they are also fat-free and low in calories. Rice cakes go well with spreads, lean protein sources, and can be consumed as a savory or sweet snack.

To create a savory snack top the rice cake with:

To create a savory snack top the rice cake with:

All of these options include the three food groups that I initially mentioned. Choose a rice cake brand that contains less than 140mg of sodium per serving, for example: Quaker.

22. Kristy Del Coro, MS, RDN, CDN

Kristydelcoro.com

Snacks are an important part of a healthy diet, especially for those with pre-diabetes and diabetes however not all snacks are created equal. Meal plans should be individualized, however, most people with prediabetes or diabetes benefit from keeping their snack choices to about 15 g of carbohydrate(or 1 carbohydrate equivalent if you follow carbohydrate counting). It is also recommended to combine the carbohydrate with protein, fat and/or fiber. The addition of protein, fat, and fiber will slow the absorption of glucose from the carbohydrate and minimize any drastic spikes in blood sugar and will also help keep you satiated longer until your next meal.

Below are some examples of some great snack combinations:

Specific examples of other low carbohydrates third party snack products:

23. George Mandler CNS LDN LicAc FABORM

Acupuncturenutrition.com

Dairy products can be a good snack for many diabetics. I have always recommended full-fat dairy products as the reduced fat have a higher glycemic load as well as less fat soluble vitamins. In addition, a study was published this past year indicating that low-fat dairy increases the risk of diabetes whereas full fat does not increase risk. Full fat Cheese – I always recommend a good quality cheese. Do not buy cheese in plastic wrappers which can have a higher quantity of endocrine disrupting chemicals. Get a good hard cheese you enjoy – and have a variety.

Variety is the spice of life which also reduces potential inflammatory immune reactions. Get sheep or goat milk cheese, not just cow. Try some European cheeses where farming practices are better than here in the USA. Have some berries with the cheese – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries which provide natural vitamin C and a low glycemic load. Full-fat plain yogurt and berries – Make sure to only buy plain whole fat yogurt. Avoid yogurt with added fruit as they always add extra sugar. Instead, put fruit in your plain yogurt.

If you like banana add some banana an cinnamon or cardamon spice. Yum. You can also add a few nuts such as raw almonds, Brazil nuts or walnuts to your yogurt which provides essential fatty acids and minerals. (Caution about nuts if one is trying to lose weight as it is a very calorie dense food so don’t go nuts with too many nuts) Hummus or Guacamole – Cut up organic veggies such as celery, carrots, or cucumber. They make a great dipping vegetable. You can purchase the store-bought hummus or guacamole. This makes a great satisfying and healthy snack. Snack bars – There are many snack aka ‘energy’ bars on the market. The majority of them have too high a sugar: protein ratio. Look for a bar that has no more than a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein. This means if it has 20 carbs it has 10 grams of protein. Two excellent tasting bars that exceed this criterion are Primal Kitchen and Quest bars.

These are probably the healthiest bars not just for diabetics but for anyone. For diabetics that need to transport their snack, I suggest getting a couple of those containers with separate compartments. They even make ones that have an ice pack built in to keep it cool. What is important is to have a variety of snacks which reduces eating boredom in addition to being a healthier way to eat.

24. Lauren Dorman, MS RD CDE

Rwjbh.org

For people with diabetes and pre-diabetes, it is important to control blood sugar levels. The goal is 90 to 130 pre-meals and <180 post meals. Healthy snacks between meals will help to accomplish stable blood sugar levels throughout the day and can also help assist in weight loss as you are able to control portions at the next meal. Snacks should include 15-20 grams of carbohydrates and be accompanied by a protein/healthy fat, or nonstarchy vegetable. This combination will help to satisfy hunger and slow the digestion of carbohydrate into sugar. The best meal plan would include 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day. Some ideas below:

If labels are available to check for serving size and total carbohydrate.

25. Whitney Tawney, RD, CEDRD

Whitneytawney.com

Snacks are very important for someone with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Snacks eaten in between meals can help make sure your blood sugar levels don’t get too low and that you don’t end up too hungry- which usually makes it hard to be mindful and leads to overeating. A great snack is eaten intuitively, tastes good, gives you energy and nourishes the body. It’s important to choose foods that leave you satisfied so that you don’t end up feeling deprived. Sometimes a bigger snack is needed, like a peanut butter sandwich, cookie, and milk, if it’s a long time until your next meal.

Other times it may be smaller, like an apple, because dinner is right around the corner. It’s important to listen to your body and your inner signals (including hunger/ fullness signals/ what sounds good?) as opposed to what you think you “should” or “shouldn’t” have. Some snack examples include cheese and crackers, yogurt and granola, chips and guacamole, trail mix and fruit.

26. Rachael McBride, MCN, RD/LD

Rachaelmcbride.com

Eating with prediabetes or diabetes type 2 doesn’t mean you can no longer have snacks or enjoyable foods. As long as you are mindful of how much carbohydrate you’re eating, snacks are totally okay- and can even help prevent overeating at mealtime! When choosing a snack, make sure to include a source of protein, fat, or fiber to keep your blood sugar from going up too quickly. A few healthful snack ideas are raw veggies with hummus, a handful of nuts or trail mix, a small serving of a higher-fiber cereal with milk, or crackers with cheese or peanut butter. Fruits like celery, bananas, and apples go great with peanut butter, or you could reach for yogurt and a serving of fruit as well.


If you are unsure of how much layway you have when it comes to snacking, check with your healthcare provider who tracks your diabetes management with you. Based on what your diabetes treatment, physical activity levels, overall lifestyle and blood sugar level patterns are, together you can come up with ideas on what would be the most appropriate snacks for your needs.

You can pick snack ideas from the recommended ideas as per our experts above. Just because you have diabetes, it does not mean you can simply stop snacking. However, it does mean that you have to be aware of what foods do to your blood levels. You would also want to stir clear from snacks that would make you gain weight if you are trying to lose weight.

TheDiabetesCouncil Article | Reviewed by Dr. Christine Traxler MD on October 14, 2018

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