Diabetes-friendly Snacks and Meals

Diabetes-friendly Snacks and Meals

Publish Date February 14, 2024 3 Minute Read

Diabetes-friendly Snacks

Making healthy choices can feel overwhelming, especially when managing diabetes. Diet has a direct impact on blood sugar, making it a huge part of diabetes management. Knowing how to choose diabetes-friendly snacks, what to look for when ordering from a restaurant menu and having strategies in mind for blood sugar control at food-focused gatherings can increase your confidence and reduce stress around managing diabetes.

Perfect Pairings for Diabetes-friendly Snacks

The primary goal of learning to control blood sugar is to make sure your blood sugar is rising and falling slowly rather than spiking quickly. By learning how to create balanced meals and snacks, you can feel empowered to experiment with different foods while maintaining a healthy blood sugar level.

When choosing snacks to support blood sugar, pair carbohydrates with a protein or a fat to slow the digestion of carbs. The addition of protein or fat to a carbohydrate can prevent you from getting too hungry, so you don’t overeat later. It’s also a great way to make sure that you get all the nutrients your body needs. Some foods contain moderate amounts of carbohydrates and protein, like Greek yogurt, hummus and milk. Using a non-starchy vegetable like baby carrots, cucumber rounds or bell pepper strips for dipping makes a nutritious low-sugar snack.

The FDA has endorsed a qualified health claim regarding the relationship between yogurt consumption and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. This claim states consuming at least 2 cups (3 servings) per week of yogurt may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes according to limited scientific evidence. Not all yogurts are created equally, which makes reading nutrition labels especially important to feel confident that you are choosing a diabetes friendly yogurt. Many yogurts are high in added sugar and fat, which is not consistent with a diabetes friendly option if eaten regularly. Look for yogurts that are labeled low fat or non-fat and provide 5% or less of the daily value of added sugar per serving. Reduce added sugar by choosing plain yogurt and adding your own fruit versus flavored yogurts or yogurts with fruit on the bottom. Greek yogurt provides higher protein than blended yogurt per serving, making it a good choice for those with diabetes. You can mix and match a carbohydrate with a protein- or fat-containing food to find your favorite snack combinations.

You can mix and match a carbohydrate with a protein- or fat-containing food to find your favorite snack combinations.


  • Fruit (fresh, canned or dried with no sugar added)
  • Whole-wheat crackers or tortilla chips
  • Whole-wheat bread or tortilla
  • Non-fat Greek yogurt (a good source of protein)
  • Half a sandwich or wrap (include protein with lunch meat, nut butter, egg salad or hummus)
  • Hummus (a good source of protein), paired with whole-wheat crackers or vegetables for dipping
  • Rice cakes
  • Low-fat milk

Proteins and Fats:

  • Nuts or nut butter
  • Low-fat string cheese
  • Tuna pouch
  • Low-fat ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
  • Mashed avocado or guacamole
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Low-sodium Deli chicken or turkey

On-the-go Low Sugar Snacks:

If you want to get in the kitchen to make your own snacks, check out these diabetes-friendly recipes:

Ordering from a Restaurant Menu

Keep these tips in mind when eating out to feel good about your blood sugar.

  • Review the menu for a section or symbol indicating “lighter” options. These menu items tend to be lower in carbohydrates than other menu items.
  • Downsize portions by choosing a lunch plate, splitting the meal with someone or asking for a box when your meal arrives to save half for another meal.
  • Choose your carbohydrates carefully. Make carbohydrate swaps such as ordering a burger with a side salad rather than fries. If you’d rather have fries, try a lettuce-wrapped burger or a burger bowl (no bun). Seemingly small changes can yield big results in keeping your blood sugar stable.

Don’t be afraid to ask your server questions about how dishes are prepared or if you can customize your order with a different choice. For example, select brown rice instead of white rice or whole wheat bread instead of white bread. These options may not be highlighted on the menu, but might be available upon request.

Controlling Your Blood Sugar at Gatherings

Attending food-focused events can be tricky because you often won’t know the food options ahead of time (which makes it hard to plan). Take these steps to ensure that you’re making choices to support your blood sugar.

First, survey the available options. Identify non-starchy vegetables, fruits and protein. Fill up on these foods first. Lean proteins like grilled or baked chicken, lean beef, turkey or seafood are recommended. Next, fill your plate with smaller amounts of higher carbohydrate foods like pasta and potato casserole, rolls or macaroni and cheese. Eat slowly and focus on the taste of the food (and your company). Finally, allow your body time to communicate to your brain how satisfied you are, at least 15 minutes. If you’re still hungry, enjoy a small dessert or a second helping with mindful intention. For diabetes-friendly options, look for desserts made with sugar substitutes, fruit or mousse.

Want More Diabetes-friendly Tips?

Keeping diabetes under control is less stressful when you know how to balance snacks by pairing carbohydrates with protein or fat, what to look for when ordering from a menu and how to approach food-focused gatherings. Check out more diabetes-friendly snack options, including no-sugar-added and keto-friendly foods on our Dietary Lifestyles page. Meeting with a Kroger registered dietitian can provide even more personalized diabetes recommendations. Schedule a Telenutrition appointment today!

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Diabetes-friendly Snacks

Start your cart with these dietitian-approved snacks!