For many, eating low-carb feels restrictive and can be hard to maintain long-term. So instead of focusing on cutting out all carbs, it’s better to strive for a balanced plate for your meals and snacks. In fact, the research shows that a meal or snack that is balanced with all food groups—proteins, carbs, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables—can improve blood sugar control after the meal.
The good news is that rather than removing your favorite foods from your diet, you can pair them with other food groups that slow down the rise in blood sugar afterward.
While it is possible to pair certain foods together to keep blood sugar levels in check, there are still some foods that are not nutritionally well balanced, and it is probably best to reach for a different option as a snack. Enjoying these foods every once in a while is perfectly fine, but if you reach for any of these following snack options regularly, you might consider changing up your snack habits to reach for something a bit more balanced. Read on, and for more, don’t miss 4 Best Breads To Eat for Blood Sugar, Say Dietitians.
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Candy tends to be a food that is low in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. It’s often quickly digested and absorbed right away—both raising blood sugar and potentially increasing hunger later.
Work toward choosing options that take longer to digest and help keep you full instead. Then, consider having a piece of candy or two after you’ve had a balanced snack if you still want it. You’ll feel more energized and stable throughout the rest of the day without a huge change in blood sugar.
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Chips are often a quick snack from the vending machine that are easy to grab. However, sometimes a more convenient choice at the moment can lead to high blood sugar later. Chips are often low in protein and fiber, making them a blood sugar-spiking food.
Luckily, you don’t have to remove this crunchy snack from your diet completely to manage blood sugar. There are new brands out now making more blood sugar-friendly options. Brands like Quest Protein Chips, Wilde Chicken Chips, and even bean-based chips like Beanitos are all high in either protein or fiber for better blood sugar control.
Pair these options with a high-fiber dip like hummus, veggie sticks, or yogurt, and you have a blood sugar-balancing snack.
Pastries like donuts, cinnamon rolls, or croissants are often a combination of refined flour, sugar, and added fat and oils. The carbohydrates and sugar will be quick to raise blood sugar, and the added oil or butter will keep blood sugars higher for longer due to delayed absorption.
Of course, these foods can be part of your lifestyle in moderation, but you might want to reconsider reaching for something sweet every day.
Instead, focus on pairing a carbohydrate with a protein at snack time. The carb source will provide a quick energy boost and the protein will help stabilize your blood sugar for hours after you eat.
RELATED: 5 Best Snacks for Your Blood Sugar
Sugar-sweetened beverages might offer a nice energy boost, but they are notoriously low in nutrients and high in sugar. This includes soda, juice, energy drinks, and sweetened coffee. A large blood sugar swing between meals will only result in increased hunger and lower energy later. So, you’re likely better off switching to options that have more protein, fiber, and healthy fat in them for your blood sugar.
Trying to kick your soda habit? Swap out your regular choice for diet soda if you are working to wean yourself off your soda snack habit. Diet soda has been shown to be safe in moderation and does not cause blood sugar spikes.
Caroline Thomason, RDN
Caroline is a women’s health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more