Snacking is allowed—and sometimes encouraged—if you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 and require insulin. Enjoying some healthy snacks during the day can help you control your blood sugar between meals and prevent hypoglycemia. But when you are craving something tasty that’s also satisfying, finding a good option can be difficult!
I adopted the Paleo lifestyle a few years ago to see if it would give me better blood sugar control and it has! Snacks made with gluten, grains, sugars and preservatives are everywhere and off limits for us Paleo folks since our diet is based on meat, fish, veggies and fruit. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing to munch on! You simply have to think differently about your options—nuts, charcuterie (cold, cooked meats), vegetables, fruits, coconut, and other homemade goodies, can be turned into delicious snack foods.
For me, balancing my blood sugar and eating in a Paleo-friendly way is all about long term success and these snack options provide a good balance of healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates to quell your hunger and your taste buds while keeping your blood sugar balanced throughout the day!
Being prepared for when hunger strikes is key. I don’t go anywhere without healthy snacks on hand. They’re always at the ready in my purse or car that way I’m not tempted to reach for food that will mess up my blood sugar later on. Here are some easy ideas.
Simply sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and place on a baking sheet in the oven at 300 degrees F for 5-8 minutes or until the coconut flakes are golden brown! I store them in a glass jar in the refrigerator as they firm up when chilled. This is one of my favorite crispy snacks!
A 1/2 cup contains about 12 grams of carbohydrates so watch out because they are quite addicting! Use the toasted coconut flakes as a topping to a smoothie or enjoy a bowlful straight from the refrigerator. Yum!
Nuts can be a little tricky when you follow a Paleo diet. Peanuts and cashews can be found in every grocery store but they are legumes—not nuts—so they don’t work for strict Paleo eaters. Macadamia nuts, however, fit the bill and are a good source of calcium, iron and magnesium, too.
These nuts, grown in my home state of Hawaii, are so versatile you can use them to make pesto, blend into a nut butter or chop finely and use as a breading alternative. Macadamia nuts are buttery and delicious and have a mild sweetness. They are also rich in healthy fats (the monounsaturated fats like those found in avocados and olive oil)—and lower in Omega 6 fatty acids compared to other nuts.
To make a deliciously different pesto, toast them in the oven for a few minutes first to bring out the flavor. When cool, toss into the food processor with basil leaves, pine nuts, a little lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic and oil—voila! I eat this by the spoonful, it’s so yummy.
As a snack, enjoy a 1/4 cup macadamia nuts. They only contain about 5 grams of carbohydrates!
Sweet potato chips have about 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving (1 ounce) whereas plantain chips have about 20 grams of carbohydrates per 1-ounce serving. Both sweet potato and plantain chips are easy to digest and gluten and nut free making them ideal for anyone with allergies or food sensitivities. You can use them as a dipping chip just like you would any other type of chip!
The trick to making them yourself is to slice them very thin (use a mandolin slicer if you have one) and cook in a hot oven (400°F) for 15 to 20 minutes. I toss them into some melted coconut oil first and season with a little rosemary.
You can add guacamole as a topping to just about any meal or use sweet potato or plantain chips to dip and enjoy! It is simple to make, too. Add a dash of salt and splash of fresh lime juice to a ripe avocado and in minutes you have a snack everyone enjoys!
Regularly cited on lists of healthiest foods, avocados are a cholesterol and sodium-free fruit and they fit into many different eating plans, including Paleo. The fiber they contain helps ward off hunger and keeps you full longer. They are also a low in sugar, another bonus. A medium-size avocado (about 5 ounces) contains about 18 grams of carbohydrates and since a typical serving of guacamole is half an avocado, you would be getting approximately 8 grams carbohydrates with your guacamole.
In a hurry? Enjoy a few slices of fresh avocado as a snack. Adding a little avocado to your mid-morning smoothie is another healthy and Paleo-friendly way to add creaminess without using dairy.
Berries such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are low glycemic fruits making them a better option when you have diabetes.
To make whipped coconut cream, place a can of full fat unsweetened coconut milk in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove the lid carefully so you don’t disturb the separation. Spoon the hardened coconut cream that has risen to the top into a bowl. Use electric beaters to whip until thick like whipped cream. Serve a spoonful over berries and enjoy a fresh and hearty treat!
Fresh, thinly-sliced smoked salmon may be more versatile than you think. Aside from being a great topping to any green salad, with eggs in the morning for breakfast or an addition to a cold cut platter, enjoying a few slices alone makes for a delicious snack. Look for wild caught smoked salmon (instead of the farm raised variety) that is free of sugar or other added ingredients. It’s a little pricier but it tastes better and experts say it’s the healthier option, in my mind makes it worth the money. The United States Department of Agriculture has a National Nutrient Database where you can compare the nutritional content of salmon. Some research has also linked type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance) with consumption of farmed salmon.
For the budget conscious, try canned varieties of wild-caught salmon.
The bite sized snack that everyone loves, deviled eggs are perfect to bring to a party so that you know you have something to eat or simple to whip up a batch and store in the fridge when hunger strikes!
Start with a Paleo-friendly mayo made with avocado oil (I like Primal Kitchen Mayo) and then add seasonings to your heart’s desire. Top off your eggs with a cube of bacon or slice of prosciutto to make it extra savory.
For a basic deviled egg recipe, place 6 eggs in a pot and cover with warm water, bring to a rolling boil, cover and set aside for 10 minutes. Run the eggs under cold water and peel. Slice in half, remove the yolks and mash with 1/4 cup mayo. Place the yolk and mayo mixture into a piping bag and pip into the egg whites.
Although I tend to stay away from packaged snacks, there are a few fabulous companies out there making packaged goods with entirely real food ingredients! These are great when traveling or to keep handy in your purse for those blood sugar emergencies.
Disclaimer: Anyone considering diets that restrict entire food groups, such as whole grains, should always consult with a physician first.