What Is a Good Evening Snack?
My mom, who has diabetes, likes having her tea and a snack before bedtime. Is eating a slice of American or cheddar cheese good for her? Lorraine Blanco, Trumbull, Connecticut
Sue Robbins, RD, CDE, responds: Eating smaller meals with frequent snacks is a very healthy way to eat, especially if you have type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is not able to produce as much insulin as it once did. Smaller portions and snacks—especially when you're eating carbohydrates—may help you achieve better blood glucose control.
Unfortunately, many snacks are high in calories, carbohydrates, and fat. Cheese is high in saturated fat. It may not affect your mom's blood glucose, but it may cause an increase in her cholesterol level and weight. Your mom might try eating cheese that has reduced fat or is made from 2 percent milk.
Other examples of healthy snacks from the milk group that have only 15 grams of carbohydrate (or, one carbohydrate choice) include 1 cup of fat-free or 1 percent milk; half a cup of sugar-free pudding; and low-fat yogurt with no sugar added.
For your mother's bedtime snack, she might also try having a piece of fruit, like a small apple, or half a cup of canned fruit in light syrup or juice. Combining the fruit with a half cup of cottage cheese or peanut butter will give her added protein. Protein may increase satiety, the feeling of being full when she is done.
When choosing a starchy snack, people with diabetes should be careful about the serving size. One starch serving (one carbohydrate choice) is three squares of graham crackers, three-quarters of an ounce of pretzels, a slice of toast, or three-quarters of a cup of unsweetened cereal, like cornflakes. Other snacks that have few or no carbohydrates include raw veggies with low-fat dip, sugar-free popsicles, one egg, or a handful of nuts.
If your mom is unsure how snacks will fit into her meal plan or if she takes insulin to control her blood glucose, she should check with her diabetes educator or dietitian for assistance.