November is Diabetes Month. If you have Type II Diabetes, a smart snack can help you manage your blood glucose levels and prevent vascular damage. Planning and having ready to go healthy snacks on hand can help improve diet quality and ultimately your health.
To help manage your blood sugar levels it is important to:
- Spread out your meals and snacks so that you don’t eat too much carbohydrate at one time.
- Control the total amount of carbohydrates (fruit, starchy veg, grains, sugar) at any one sitting. 15 grams is perfect for a small snack such as a piece of fruit. Try to limit carbohydrate choices such as pastries, chips and chocolate bars as they are high in carbohydrates and less nutritious.
- Eat more fibre to help slow the rise of blood sugars, help you feel full and manage portions. Include foods such as whole grain oats and quinoa, beans and lentils, fruits and vegetables.
- Include a source of protein at your meals and snacks to help slow the absorption of carbohydrates and make your energy last longer. Good protein foods include nuts, Greek yogurt, cheese, tinned fish, meat, eggs and legumes.
- Be active. Going for a walk after you eat can help manage blood sugar levels
Healthy Snacking Tips:
- Focus on fruit and vegetables. They are high in fibre and low in calories in addition to being full of vitamins and minerals. Whole fruit such as apples, oranges, bananas and nectarines are fantastic options to grab and go. Bringing containers of cut fruit and vegetables can be a convenient way to eat on the road.
- Add a source of protein. For a more substantial snack and to help stabilize blood sugars, add a source of protein to your fruit or vegetables. Have some edamame beans (3/4c in the pod) and an orange or bring 12 almonds to eat with your apple. Hummus is a great dip for your raw carrots and cottage cheese is delicious with cantaloupe. Research shows that eating almonds on a daily basis can help improve insulin sensitivity.
- Be prepared. Packing snacks with you in your cab will ensure you have a healthy snack ready when you need it. Bringing food with you ensures you don’t get tempted to eat sugary muffins or chocolate bars from the truck stop and will help you stay on track with your healthy eating. Put 12 almonds and 4 dried apricots or ½ cup trail mix in a container. Keep Greek yogurt in your portable fridge. Keep some protein energy bars in your cab for emergencies. Pack 2 Rye crispbreads spread with peanut butter or a packet of unsweetened apple sauce in your lunch bag for a quick snack when you need it.
- Evening snacks are a good idea if you have an early dinner or a long road ahead. Evening snacks may also help control blood sugars in the morning. Try whole grain cereal with sliced strawberries and milk, cheese and whole grain crackers with cucumber rounds, toast and peanut butter with a cut orange or a cup of blueberries and Greek yogurt.
The Bottom Line: Healthy eating for Type II diabetes is simply healthy eating while reducing refined sugars and starches.