Diabetes Forecast

The Healthy Living Magazine

Snacks and Desserts

How do snacks and desserts fit in with the Diabetes Plate Method?

By Lara Hamilton, RD, CDE
Learn More about Eat Well America


What About Snacks?

Snacks are not a requirement for eating well with diabetes or for anyone in general. But some people find them useful for managing hunger and fueling exercise. For good nutrition, choose healthful snacks that help you get some of the food groups you may be missing, such as vegetables, fruit, and healthful fats. Fruit, yogurt, and whole-wheat crackers are healthful snacks that contain carbohydrate. Raw nonstarchy vegetables (such as carrots, celery, and peppers), lower-fat cheese, cottage cheese, nuts, and hard-boiled eggs are smart snack choices that are lower in carbohydrate.

Aim to keep your snacks small in both portion size and calorie count. Choosing snacks that offer a mix of healthful carbohydrate and lean protein with plenty of fiber may help you feel full for longer. For example, a small apple with 1 Tbsp of peanut butter, whole grain crackers and 1 ounce of reduced-fat cheese, or 2 Tbsp hummus and some raw veggies.

What About Desserts?

Some people with diabetes choose to avoid most desserts. Others prefer to enjoy them in small amounts for special occasions. If you do choose to eat desserts or other sweets in moderation, keep blood glucose levels on track by eating small portions of sweets in place of other starchy foods, fruit, or milk you might normally have for that meal. For example, if you'd like to have a small piece of pie after dinner, consider having it instead of another carbohydrate food. Skip the portion of grains or starchy vegetables on your plate. Then enjoy your pie after dinner. This allows you to keep the amount of carbohydrate in your meal about the same as you would typically eat. 

But swapping in desserts and sweets for more nutritious meals too often just isn’t smart, health wise. Desserts and sweets don’t usually have the vitamins and minerals that you get from other foods. They tend to have added sugars and unhealthful fats. Save dessert for special occasions.

The American Diabetes Association provides dessert recipes that are sensible in portion size and calories and offer complete nutrition information so that you can make a decision about whether or not they fit into your eating plan and your diabetes self-management regimen.

>> See snack and dessert recipes.