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Low Carb Snack Ideas

One of the great challenges of feeding a child with diabetes is what to do when your child is hungry and their blood glucose is sky high. What if it has been less than 2 hours since their last meal and their blood glucose hasn’tLow carb snack ideas yet had a chance to return to target?

It seems, in our home, there is no time between breakfast and lunch to have a carb-filled morning snack. And afternoon snack bleeds into supper which bleeds into a bedtime snack. My pre-schooler (and especially toddler, when he was one) seems to eat constantly. “Wait an hour to eat” has never gone over well as a strategy for allowing blood glucose an opportunity to return to normal. Neither has it worked to feed him a high-carb snack of a granola bar or cereal: his blood glucose may still be above-target after his last meal when we throw carbs at it; numbers in the high teens or even 20’s are not uncommon for us when we disregard carb content when blood sugar is already high.

So when time is limited between meals, or when blood glucose is high at the time he wants a snack, we opt for low- or no-carb snacks instead. (Other possibilities include choosing low glycemic snacks and/or using a pre-bolus (give the food bolus 15 or more minutes before the start of the snack).)  

If you are looking for low-carb snack and meal options, in general look towards:
green and “savoury” (rather than sweet) vegetables
  • nuts and seeds
  • meat, poultry, fish
  • eggs
  • cheese
  • prepared foods manufactured as low-carb (ex. sugar-free Jell-O®).

Note: There’s no need to go overboard. Some people advocate a consistently low-carb diet for individuals with diabetes. While this approach may have certain benefits for those with Type 2 Diabetes, carbohydrate-restriction is not a key approach for most individuals with Type 1.
  • Timing/quantity of insulin to match food intake, as well as quality of carbohydrates, is key for our kids.
  • Carbohydrates are a key source of fuel for a healthy body, and a diet too high in proteins can place additional stress on the kidneys (an organ which is already at risk for complications with diabetes).
  • Consultation with a dietician is an excellent resource for planning a healthy diet that meets your child’s individual needs.

For those times when you want to provide a low- or no-carb snack, here are some ideas for snack components (which can be used to dream up your own low-carb snack combination). The list is not exhaustive, but is a sampling of possibilities, which have been well-received by our sons.

Please note: The carb values given are approximate and are given as relative guidelines only – be sure to calculate your own carb values for the brands and quantities you prepare.

INDIVIDUAL SNACK ITEMS
Comments
g carb
per
Quantity
Avocado
  0
   
Deli meat: ham, roast beef, turkey, chicken
 Check labels carefully – “loaf” type deli meats and those with more fillers may have some amount of carbs
0
   
Hot dog weiner (no filler)
Ex. Schneider’s Country Naturals®
0
   
Roast chicken
  0
   
Chicken salad
  0
   
Shrimp
  0
   
Hard-boiled egg
  0
   
Devilled egg
  0
   
Egg salad
  0
   
Cheese (marble, mozzarella, cheddar)
Some brands do have a small amount of carbs – check the package.
0
   
Cheese String, Cheese Twist
  0
   
Tuna salad
  0
   
Salmon salad
  0
   
Olives, green
Carb content varies by brand – check the package. The high fibre content of olives reduces the amount of available carb.
     
Olives, black
Carb content varies by brand – check the package.
     
Jell-O®, sugar-free
Jell-O® brand contains Aspartame. It can be found in the dairy cooler; Snack Pack® brand contains Sucralose. It’s found on a regular grocery shelf, usually near the puddings or granola bars.
0
   
Mushrooms, canned, whole
Carb content varies by brand – check the package.
1
  1/2 cup
Mushrooms, fresh
  2
  6 med. caps
Chicken Weiner
  1
  1 weiner
Soft cheese
Ex. Laughing Cow® brand
1
  2 triangles
Pickles – baby dill
  2
  4 pickles
 Plain Nuts:
       
Almonds
  1
  11 nuts
Hazelnuts
  1
  10 nuts
Pecans
  1
   7 nuts
Walnuts
  1    15 nuts 
Peanuts
Carb content varies by brand – check the package 
   
Cucumber
  1
  3 slices (medium thickness)
2
  1 mini cuke
Bell peppers
  1-2
  5 slices
Grape tomatoes
  1
  5
Asparagus
  1
  3 spears
Pickled asparagus
  1
  30 g
Broccoli or cauliflower
  <1
  2 medium spears
Lupini Beans, canned 
These are pretty dense – not for the faint of heart. 
Ex. Unico® brand 
1
  1/2 cup
Green beans, fresh
  1+
  10 beans=1oz = 30g
Green beans, canned
Ex. Blue Menu™ brand
1
  1/2c
Mini rice cake
Ex. Quaker ® brand (sour cream& onion, etc)
1.2
  piece
Turkey pepperoni
  1
  stick
Ham stick
Freybe brand
1
  stick
Pepperoni stick
       
Garlic sausage
       
Mini-meatballs
Carb content varies by brand – check the package.
1
  each
Baby corn (canned)
Ex. Aroy-D brand
1
  7pieces(=85g)
Chicken bologna
Ex. Hal-Alal brand
2.5
  1 slice
Edamame (soy beans) 
My kids enjoy them steamed in pod, sprinkled with salt and pepper – half the fun is squeezing the beans out of the pod.
2

20 pods
3

~1/2cup shelled beans
Black Diamond Fun Cheez®
  2
  package
Processed Cheese Slices
  2
  slice
Blackberries, Raspberries
  4
  1/2 cup
(1g carbs per 3 large or 4 med berries)
   
Strawberries
  4
  ~3 medium strawberries
Cottage Cheese
  4
  1/3 cup
Yogurt, plain
  4
  1/3 cup
Yogurt, flavoured, sugar-free
  4-5
  Single-serve container
Baby MumMum® infant/toddler cookies
  4
  Package (2 rusks)
Gerber Graduates® Lil' Crunchies
  4
  16 pieces
Puffed Wheat
Ex. Nature’s Path® brand
4.5
  1/2 cup
Corn Puffs
Ex. Nature’s Path® brand
5.5
  1/2 cup
Goldfish® Crackers
  5
  14 crackers
Ritz Bitz®
  5
  12 pieces
Popcorn –plain
For variety, sprinkle with parmesan cheese or drizzle with sugar-free chocolate syrup
5
  1cup
Apple slices
  10-15
  1  medium apple
Peanut Butter (Unsweetened)
  2
  1 tbsp
Cream Cheese (regular fat)
  1
  1 tbsp
Hummus Dip
Carb content varies by brand – check the package       


Snack Combinations

Here are some examples of ways you could combine the above ingredients, for a relatively low-carb snack or meal idea.

  • Mushroom Caps: fresh mushroom, stem removed, topped with cream cheese (plain, salmon-, or tomato-flavoured) and bacon bits, and then lightly baked
  • Celery with: tuna, salmon, chicken salad, egg salad

OR peanut butter
OR cream cheese (plain or flavoured)

  • Cucumber slices topped with cream cheese (plain or flavoured), and/or tuna, salmon, or deli meat
(wiping the cucumber slice with a paper towel after cutting will help the cream cheese to stick)
  • Cottage cheese with nuts and/or berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, for example)
  • Yogurt (plain, or sugar-free flavoured) with nuts and/or berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, for example)
  • Lettuce roll-up: egg salad, deli meat, tuna, and/or veggies, wrapped in a lettuce leaf
  • Meat roll-ups: avocado, cheese, peppers, olives, grated carrots, tomato, etc – wrapped in a slice of deli meat
  • Tooth-pick Kebabs: a variety of the following, cut into cubes and loaded onto a toothpick or skewer: cheese, olives, pickles, hard-boiled egg, carrots, etc)
  • Corn Thin Pizza: using a round Corn Thin as the base, load on pizza toppings (cheese, olives, pepperoni or ham stick slices) and bake until the cheese melts
  • Rice Cake Pizza: as above, using rice cakes as the base
  • Rumake: water chestnuts, in a soy-based marinade, wrapped in a slice of bacon, then baked

  • Greek Salad: black olives, grape tomatoes, and cucumber chunks, with oil and vinegar dressing and salt/pepper (for a variation, add mushrooms, too) 
  • Homemade Vegetable Soup, with extra veggies: puree if desired; add meat if desired, ex. chunks of chicken or beef

What ideas do you have for low-carb snack ideas? The sky’s the limit...

We welcome the opportunity to expand this list – please email us with your low carb snack ideas! It is especially helpful to other parents if you can specify brands, as some food items may vary widely depending on the manufacturer.



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The above information was reviewed for content accuracy by clinical staff of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic.

This material has been developed from sources that we believe are accurate, however, as the field of medicine (in particular as it applies to diabetes) is rapidly evolving, the information should not be relied upon, as it is designed for informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction and/or treatment. If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional.


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