Almonds, pistachios, popcorn … your office desk drawer is probably already an arsenal of low-carb snack foods. With diabetes, these healthy snacks are crucial to combat hunger and control your blood sugar.
But if you’re bored of the same old snacks, it might be time to mix it up. As a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, snack and meal planning help is the number one request that I receive from clients. Below are eight great ideas to step up your snack game with fresh foods that are satisfying and delicious.
Your guide to diabetes-friendly snacking at work
Remember, planning ahead is especially helpful for the workplace. It’s so easy to become engulfed in meetings, projects, and deadlines that we can suddenly go from a little hungry to ravenous. Having diabetes-friendly snacks on hand will give you a healthy alternative when your co-worker brings in those dreaded morning donuts, afternoon pastries, or the always-present candy bowl.
When it comes to choosing your snacks, think about when, how, and what you will be eating.
Eat healthy, snack well
Ideally, you will be hungry for snacks about two to three hours after your main meals. If you’re hungry less than two hours after a meal, you may want to evaluate if you’re eating balanced meals. Foods high in carbohydrates and low in protein, fiber, and fat tend to digest more quickly, raise our blood glucose levels, and leave us wanting more too soon.
Practice mindful snacking
Being mindful of what you eat, really thinking about what and why you are eating, makes a difference. The number one place my clients say they skip mindful eating practices is in the office. And because over 40 percent of American adults admit to stress eating, it’s likely you’re doing it at the office when your schedule gets crazy.
Eating distraction-free, which includes not eating in front of a screen (TV, computer, phone), can improve blood sugar levels.
What to look for in an office-ready snack
The perfect diabetes-friendly office snack should:
- be able to be eaten cold without being cooked or heated
- contain between 10 to 20 grams of total carbohydrates
- be a good source of fiber and protein, which are key components for a balanced, blood sugar-stabilizing snack (look to include a minimum of 2-3 grams of fiber and 6-7 grams of protein)
- smell good or not smell at all, so hold the tuna and hard-boiled eggs (we want your co-workers to be glad you’re eating healthy, too!)
- require minimal prep and effort (try to bring enough snacks on Monday to last you through the week)
- be available as a quick grab-and-go at cafes or convenience stores, in case you forgot to pack it or need a backup snack
Top diabetes-friendly snacks to pack for work
Here’s a list of my top eight office-ready, diabetes-friendly snacks. They are tasty, low-carb, and ready in seconds.
1. 1/2 cup shelled edamame
With a whopping 11 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber on average, edamame is a satisfying snack that won’t spike your blood sugar levels.
2. 1 cup sugar snap peas + 1/4 cup hummus
Crunchy sugar snap peas are perfect when you get the urge to snack. This combo is cholesterol-free and contains over 80 percent of your daily needs of the naturally occurring antioxidant vitamin C.
3. 6 ounces plain (unsweetened) Greek yogurt + 1/2 cup raspberries + 1 tablespoon slivered almonds sprinkled with 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
Raspberries are one of the highest fiber fruits, making them lower on the glycemic index, which can help keep your blood sugars controlled, especially when mixed with high-protein plain Greek yogurt and healthy fat-filled, high-fiber almonds. Make this snack office friendly by bringing the bulk ingredients on Monday, so it’s ready all week long.
4. 1 cup cottage cheese + 1/2 cup chopped pineapple
This high-protein combo gets natural sweetness from pineapple. Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which may reduce inflammation, relax muscles, and potentially reduce osteoarthritis inflammation.
5. 1 string cheese + 1 cup cherry tomatoes drizzled with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar + 3-4 chopped basil leaves
No need to wait until dinner for a delicious caprese salad! Tomatoes contain vital nutrients like vitamin C, iron, and vitamin E. They are even considered a superfood by the American Diabetes Association, so feel free to enjoy guilt-free and often.
6. 1 slice whole-wheat bread + 1/4 avocado
Not only is avocado toast trendy, but it’s healthy too. Grab a slice of sprouted whole-wheat bread and spread one-fourth of the avocado on top. Finish with your favorite salt-free toppings such as red pepper chili flakes, freshly ground pepper, or garlic powder. This combo will keep you full for hours with the high-fiber complex carbs and healthy fats. For those avoiding bread, 1/2 cup of canned low-sodium chickpeas mixed with diced avocado, lemon juice, and a drizzle of hot sauce is a satisfying gluten-free high fiber snack.
7. 2 tablespoons pecans + 1/2 sweet potato
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of pecans on one-half of a baked sweet potato along with some cinnamon. This southern-inspired combo will satisfy your sweet tooth. The pecans are a good source of magnesium, which is often low in people with type 2 diabetes. Magnesium can increase sensitivity to insulin and help your blood sugar control.
8. 1 cup of green tea + 1 ounce almonds + 1 small apple
Green tea both increases your metabolism and hydrates you, which helps dilute your blood and lower blood sugar levels. Almonds and apples provide the perfect balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.
For more low-carb meal and snack ideas, check out this free 7-day diabetes meal plan.
Lori Zanini, RD, CD, is a nationally recognized, award-winning food and nutrition expert. As a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, she helps others learn how to use food to manage their blood sugar and improve their lives! She is the author of Eat What You Love Diabetes Cookbook and is featured regularly in the media, including LA Times, CNN, DoctorOz.com, SHAPE, SELF, Forbes, and others.