I am looking for healthy snacks for my diabetic mother. What are some good options available in pharmacies?
Healthy and smart snacking can help your diabetic mother keep her blood glucose and energy levels stable through the day. It can also help prevent over-eating. However, there is a fine line between snacking and abusing the habit. The danger of snacks is that they can become extra meals if there is no self-control.
Meal planning is crucial for managing diabetes. To prevent over-eating, include snacks in meal plans to control the intake of calories and fats.
Here are some suggestions on healthy snacks for diabetics:
1. Limit sugary and highly-processed snacks and beverages like chips, cookies, candy, juice, etc.
2. To curb the craving for something sweet, opt for foods or drinks that use artificial sweeteners, eg, diet drinks, baked goods, frozen desserts, candy, light yoghurt and chewing gum. Some artificial sweeteners can be used as table-top sweeteners for coffee, tea, etc, while others can be used in cooking and baking. Common artificial sweeteners are aspartame, saccharin and sucralose, and are available in tablet or granular form.
3. Be careful with foods labelled ‘sugar-free’, ‘no sugar added’, ‘reduced sugar’ and ‘light’ as they may still contain carbohydrates. Sugar is not the only carbohydrate that affects blood glucose levels. Other types of carbohydrates will also be broken down into simple sugars in our body, and this will affect blood glucose levels.
4. Learn how to read the nutritional facts label on packagings. First, check the serving size; second, total carbohydrates. Total carbohydrates tell you how much carbohydrates there are in each serving of the food. Total carbohydrates include starch, sugar, sugar alcohol (eg, sorbitol, maltitiol) and fibre. The amount of total carbohydrates is a good number to be used in carbohydrate counting.
5. Snack on lean protein (eg, low-fat dairy), nuts, seeds, whole grains, fibrous vegetables and fruits. Go easy on fruits as they contain naturally-occurring sugar.
6. Choose high-fibre foods to slow digestion, which will lead to a gradual rise and fall in blood glucose.
7. Go for foods with a low glycemic index (GI). GI is a measurement of the effect of food on blood glucose levels. Low GI foods (GI less than 55) are those that are slowly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. A food with a high GI raises blood glucose more than a food with medium or low GI.
There are various types of nutritional beverages and snacks for diabetes available in pharmacies. Most of them contain slow-release carbohydrates with low GI to assist in managing glucose levels.