Diabetes is no fun, I think we can all agree on that. Current nutritional thought emphasizes spreading out the day's meals into five to six smaller increments, as opposed to the traditional three-meals-a-day. And alternating three well-balanced meals with sensible snacks can be a healthier way to eat-even if you don't have to worry about diabetes.
Though depending on your previous concepts of "snacks," you may have to redefine what is and is not a healthy nibble. Fruit is your friend, carbs are not the enemy, and fats are fine-but all in the proper context and in moderation.
Best Fruit Snack:
Berries and Yogurt
Yes, fruits contain carbohydrates, but they're slow-release carbs, and fruits offer a wealth of other nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and plenty of fiber. Some of the most potent are berries, especially blueberries, which have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit or vegetable. Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are other good choices. A handful of berries with a dollop of low-fat yogurt make an ideal snack.
Best Carb Snack:
Roasted Sweet Potato with Honey
The fructose and white sugars found in snacks such as donuts, candy, soda, and even some ostensibly "healthy" granola bars are definitely on the undesirable list. But whole grains such as oats and brown rice, and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, provide slow-release energy, a feeling of fullness, and a plentiful array of nutritional benefits. Stir some local honey into a small roasted sweet potato for a fiber-filled treat that's packed with vitamins and phytonutrients.
Best Healthy Fat Snack:
Apple Slices with Nut Butter
"Good" fats, in moderation, are essential to a healthy diet. Low-fat dairy products provide vitamin D and calcium; nuts and seeds offer minerals and essential fatty acids. Low-fat yogurt, especially the Greek variety with its high-protein content, is a brilliant snack-throw in a few blueberries and a sprinkling of whole bran, and you're good to go. Here's my favorite: Smear a few teaspoons of organic crunchy peanut or nut butter on a few slices of crisp apple for a sensible but sublime energy boost.
Low-sugar Snack Bars
Today's store shelves are filled with a bewildering variety of "bars" that claim to be healthy alternatives to candy bars. Read the labels, and make sure that the ones you choose have minimal added sugar, plenty of protein, and a sensible number of calories. Three low-sugar bars that we like:
Quest Nutrition QuestBar in Chocolate Peanut Butter
(160 calories; 20 g protein; 1 g sugar)
Think Products thinkThin Lean Protein & Fiber Bar Salted Caramel
(150 calories; 10 g protein; 5 g sugar)
Wellness Foods, Inc. The Simply Bar Cinnamon Pecan Protein Bar
(160 calories; 16 g protein; 3 g sugar)