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Choose This, Not That – How to Make the Best Snack Choices

Even if you eat healthy meals, the snacks you choose can make or break how you’re doing with your diabetes management or weight loss plan. When it comes to snacking, most people think of foods that are high in added sugars and unhealthy fats like chips, pretzels, cookies, and candy. These foods are often high in calories and sodium as well.

Start thinking of snacking as an opportunity to fit more nutritious foods into your day, rather than a time to treat yourself to a bag of salty chips. There are a lot of tasty, nutrient-rich foods to choose from that will give you energy and add a nutritional boost to your day!

Below, we’ve compared some “typical” snacks to healthier, diabetes-friendly options that are just as tasty. Check out the difference it makes when you swap out highly processed snack foods for fresh, nutritious snacks.

Instead of: 2 ounces potato chips and ¼ cup French onion dip (407 calories, 32 g carbohydrate, 732 mg sodium)
Try: 1 serving of our Tzatziki Dip and Vegetables and 1 ounce of whole wheat pita chips (140 calories, 21 g carbohydrate, 327 mg sodium)

Instead of: A full-size candy bar (280 calories, 35 g carbohydrate, 140 mg sodium)
Try: An oat, fruit, and nut granola bar (95 calories, 18 g carbohydrate, 60 mg) OR for a more filling snack, have 4 ounces light Greek yogurt mixed with 2 tablespoons of Power Granola (200 calories, 20 g carbohydrates, 35 mg)

Instead of: 2 ounces lime-flavored tortilla chips and ¼ cup store-bought salsa (320 calories, 40 g carbohydrate, 820 mg sodium)
Try: 1 serving of our Avocado-Cucumber Dip with Belgian Endive for dipping and a small piece of whole fruit (~150 calories, 20 g carbohydrate, 170 mg sodium) OR have just 1 ounce of baked tortilla chips with a serving of our Mango and Tomato Salsa (180 calories, 26 g carbohydrate, 110 mg sodium)

Instead of: 3 cups white cheddar popcorn (205 calories, 15 g carbohydrate, 320 mg sodium)
Try: 3 cups light microwave popcorn (60 calories, 12 g carbohydrate, 165 mg sodium)
*You can also add ½ cup of fresh berries to this snack, for a total of 100 calories, 20 g carbohydrate, and 165 mg sodium.

Instead of: ½ cup ice cream with 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup (245 calories, 41 g carbohydrate, 180 mg sodium)
Try: ½ cup of our Lemon Thyme Greek Frozen Yogurt and top it with 1 cup of whole strawberries, sliced (115 calories, 17 g carbohydrate, 45 mg sodium)

Looking for more healthy snack recipes? Try:

Roasted and Spiced Chickpeas
Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Parfait
Coconut Curry Trail Mix
Healthy Snack Mix 

It is also very important to keep portion size at the front of your mind when snacking. Salty snacks and sweets are particularly easy to overeat. Avoid eating out of large bags or bulk-size containers. It may help to portion out snack foods after you buy them, or buy them in individual-sized packages. Remember that you only need enough to keep you feeling satisfied until your next meal.

As you can see, all it takes is a simple switch to start snacking healthier. When it's time for a snack, focus on choosing nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and healthy fats. For more information on snacking and additional diabetes-friendly ideas, check out the Snacking page on diabetes.org. You might also be interested in this month’s featured article, “Less Sodium, Just as Much Flavor!

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