Affordable, tasty recipes for the whole family – to sustain your energy and suitable for those with diabetes.
Snacking is something we all love to do and even when following a healthy lifestyle, there are plenty of healthy options to choose from. The important thing is to know why you are snacking, what you choose to eat, how much you eat at a time and how often you feel like nibbling. This is true for all of us – even if you don’t have diabetes. People with diabetes are not encouraged to snack too much and only if they really have to, so that their blood sugar levels do not rise suddenly (spike) or fall too quickly again.
Only snack when it is really necessary. Ask these questions to know why you want to snack: Am I really hungry or is it just a habit? Are my blood sugar levels dropping between meals or have I been advised to snack at times?
The best way to know if a snack is necessary, is to monitor your blood sugar levels on a regular basis. There are situations when it is a good idea to snack. If you are extremely hungry and don’t want to over-eat at the next meal, a snack could be a good idea. People with diabetes should rather choose a carb-free snack or a protein-based option, so that their blood sugar levels remain stable. Before or just after exercising, a person with diabetes could find that a snack helps to prevent their blood sugar levels from dropping. With some prescribed diabetes medication your doctor may recommend a snack at certain times of the day. Speak to your doctor to know when snacking is really necessary.
If you find that you often have to snack between meals, try to determine what the reason is. Maybe your meals are not the right choice of foods to keep you full till the next meal. Or maybe the meals are too small in size. It is better to enjoy a meal that will keep you full enough, than developing a cycle of eating too little at meal times and then snacking on foods, high in kilojoules, but low in nutritional value. This could lead to weight gain as well as unstable blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, speak to your healthcare professional to make sure that your medication is correct. When you do snack, choose something that will form part of a balanced, healthy way of eating and in small to moderate portions.
When you feel like snacking, choose one of the suggestions below. Consider what you have eaten at the previous meal and what the next meal will be, to enjoy a variety and good balance of food throughout the day. Be creative, but always follow the Cooking from the heart guidelines for a healthy way of eating, as explained in this book.
Average portion size for a snack:
- Any fruit the size of one closed fist
- 1 cup (250 ml) cut fruit
- 10 small grapes or strawberries
- 1 small banana
- 2 small plums or apricots
- 1 cup (250 ml) low-fat or fat-free milk
- 1 cup (250 ml) plain or fat-free unsweetened yoghurt
- 100 ml low-fat sweetened yoghurt
Snacks that are almost carb-free
Take care not to over-eat on these, just because they are carb-free. Snacks like olives, cheese and biltong can be very high in salt.
- Cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumber or celery sticks with low-fat cottage cheese
- Small handful unsalted raw nuts or seeds
- Avocado or guacamole dip with veggies like cucumber, celery or tomatoes
- Biltong snapsticks
- Small piece of low-fat cheese
– Season low-fat cottage cheese with some wholegrain mustard or fresh or dried herbs of your choice.
– Coarsely crush avo and stir in chopped tomato, fresh coriander or parsley, lemon juice and a pinch of paprika.
Snacks with less than 10 g of carbs
- 2 wholewheat crackers topped with low-fat cottage cheese, cheese or peanut butter (remember to read the label of the crackers and peanut butter)
- ¼ cup (60 ml) fresh berries
- Small unsweetened yoghurt
- Cheese and fruit skewers: combine cheese with grapes, strawberries or any seasonal fruit
- Cheese and veggie skewers: combine pieces of cucumber, tomato or mushrooms with cheese
- Homemade popcorn seasoned with a pinch of salt and dried herbs
– Slice 2-3 apples with the skin in thin slices, place on a baking tray and dry at 100 ˚C for 20-30 minutes or until dried to your preference. Enjoy 5 slices as a snack and keep the rest in an airtight container.
Snacks with 10-20 g of carbs
- 1 small apple or orange
- 1 cup (250 ml) homemade vegetable soup
- 2 rice cakes with 1 tbsp (15 ml) crunchy peanut butter (remember to read the labels of these products)
- ½ a wholewheat sandwich, spread with low-fat cottage cheese and filled with tuna or left-over chicken, lettuce and cucumber
- 3-4 wholewheat crackers with low-fat cheese (read the labels of these products)
- 1 cup (250 ml) milk or low-fat unsweetened yoghurt
- 1 boiled egg with 3-4 wholewheat crackers
– Mix 2 tbsp (30 ml) peanut butter with ¼ cup (60 ml) low-fat cottage cheese as a dip or spread with veggie sticks.
Snacks with 20- 30 g of carbs
- 1 small bran muffin (preferably low GI and homemade)
- Cereal bar (check label for carb, sugar, salt and fat content)
- ½ cup (125 ml) low-fat unsweetened yoghurt with a banana or berries
- Wholewheat sandwich with slices of tomato, cucumber and avocado with a drizzle of lemon juice and black pepper
For a smoothie blend ½ cup (125 ml) cubed seasonal fruit with ½ cup (125 ml) low-fat unsweetened yoghurt or milk. Try papaya, banana, strawberries, mango, peaches, citrus, pineapple and pear. For an interesting flavour, add a piece of ginger or fresh mint, lemon juice or ground almonds. Add 1 tbsp (15 ml) uncooked oats or ground almonds to make it more filling.