For some people, snacking adds unwanted calories and sends blood glucose soaring. Many snack items, such as chips, cookies, muffins and doughnuts, are high in carbohydrate, fat and calories. People often eat out of habit or emotion, rather than hunger. They eat because they are sad, bored, stressed, or simply need something to do in front of the TV. When you eat mindlessly, it is easy to eat too much or reach for unhealthy choices.
However, a well-planned snack offers many benefits. It can help prevent low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) related to taking certain types of diabetes medications. A healthy snack can also curb your appetite and prevent overeating at the next meal. Moreover, snacking can keep you energized and provide important nutrients for
The need to snack varies from person to person. The timing of meals, the types of diabetes medications you use, your activity level, and your personal choice for snacking are all important factors to consider.
If one or more of the following situations describes you, you may benefit from including snacks as part of your day. Speak with your dietitian if you still have questions about the need to snack.
You take diabetes medications that can cause hypoglycemia.
All types of insulin, and some types of diabetes pills (see table), can result in hypoglycemia. Do you manage your diabetes with one or more of these medications? If so, your blood glucose may drop too low due to delayed eating, inadequate food intake or increased activity. In these situations, a snack between meals, as well as a bedtime snack, may prevent your blood glucose from bottoming out.
You have long gaps between your meals.
You let too much time pass between meals, and then you overeat. Sound familiar? Even if you are not at risk of hypoglycemia, a healthy snack is often a good idea if your meals are spaced more than five or six hours apart. It is easier to keep portions in check and make smarter food choices when you are not famished. So the next time dinner will be late, take an afternoon snack break. Your body and your blood glucose will thank you for it.
|Diabetes pills with risk of low blood glucose (hypoglycemia)||Diabetes pills with no risk of hypoglycemia when used on their own|
Gliclazide (Diamicron® or Diamicron® MR)
You are physically active.
Whether on the job, at school or at the gym, physical activity increases the body's need for food. If your last meal was several hours ago, eat a snack containing carbohydrate before beginning activity. This provides glucose to fuel your body and protects against hypoglycemia if you use diabetes pills or insulin.
Your blood glucose is too high in the morning. High morning blood glucose is a common problem in type 2 diabetes. Have you ever noticed that your blood glucose is higher in the morning than at bedtime the night before, even though you did not have anything to eat or drink? What makes your blood glucose go up? To understand, you need to know some basic body science. Let's look at how the pancreas and liver normally work to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
However, in type 2 diabetes, this glucose-balancing act goes haywire because there is a lack of insulin or it is not working well. As a result, the muscles and liver are unable to take up glucose efficiently, leaving blood glucose too high after you eat. Overnight the liver 'leaks' too much glucose into the blood, resulting in high morning blood glucose.
Some people with diabetes find adding a small carbohydrate snack before bed lowers morning blood glucose. Eating a snack may help the pancreas make more insulin and keep the 'leaky' liver in check. This solution does not work for everyone, so you need to experiment. If a bedtime snack does not improve your morning blood glucose, talk with your diabetes care provider about a possible change in your diabetes pills or insulin.
You are a small eater.
If you have a small appetite and have trouble eating all the food you need during meals, snacks can help. This is often the case for young children, older adults and during times of illness. Snacks provide opportunities to fit in the recommended number of servings from each key food group.
You enjoy snacking.
Some people like snacking, while others do not. There is no evidence to support that snacking is harmful, as long as you keep portions in check and your snack choices nutritious. On the other hand, if you do not like to snack but you need to do so to avoid hypoglycemia, speak with your diabetes care provider. It may be possible to adjust the timing and dosing of your diabetes medication. Certain types of diabetes pills and insulin are also less likely to cause hypoglycemia. As much as possible, your diabetes medications should work around your eating habits, not vice versa.
The need to snack varies from person to person. When planned carefully, snacks help improve blood glucose control, control appetite and provide important nutrition to your body.
If snacking is right for you, use the following suggestions to guide your snack selection. It's as easy as 1-2-3.
1 Start with carbohydrate to energize.
2 Add protein to stabilize.
1 Include 'free foods' to fill up.
Add the items in the 'free foods' column (below) to your snacks to add more variety and interest. They contain low amounts (less than five grams) of carbohydrate and calories (less than 15 calories).
Vegetables and Fruits
MILK AND ALTERNATIVES
|• One cup of low fat milk
• One cup of plain soy beverage
• One cup of low fat yogurt, plain or no sugar added
• ½ cup chocolate milk