When children come home from school they are usually eager to have a snack. It is important to choose proper snacks for children with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes; consider these 6 as some of the best. Always check with their physician to see if their insulin regimen allows between meal snacking.
- Healthy after school snacks help children with diabetes have energy until dinnertime as well as manage their blood sugar levels. Choose snacks your child enjoys and offer your child a variety of options. Snacks should come from the basic food groups, such as vegetables and fruit, low-fat dairy and whole grains. Try to stay away from packaged and processed snacks that could be packed with sugar, salt and/or fat. Consider single-serving diabetic snacks if your child wants a portable treat to bring to after school activities.
- Plenty of snacks are easy to pack if your child stays after school for sports or clubs. Consider air-popped popcorn, seasoned with a spoonful of grated cheese rather than butter and salt, or a handful of small unsalted pretzels. Unsalted whole grain crackers in a proper serving size are another tasty option. Read the labels to find out more about other options. Individual bags of baked vegetable chips and homemade trail mix may be a great choice. Add raisins, walnuts, sunflower seeds and oatmeal squares for a simple and delicious trail mix. These items can be packed in an airtight container or zip lock bag to stay fresh and crunchy in your child’s locker or backpack.
- Another crunchy snack for your children may be plain rice cakes rather than flavored ones. Keep fresh ground peanut butter, almond butter and sugar-free fruit spread in the house to give the rice cakes added flavor. Always use proper portion sizes.
- Some children enjoy a dairy snack after a long day. A glass of low-fat milk or a cup of low-fat yogurt is a good choice with plenty of calcium. String cheese is a kid-friendly snack to grab with a few crackers on the way out to activities. Serve sugar free pudding or jello and add some fresh berries for a tasty treat.
- Fruit is a great after school snack for children with diabetes. Grapes and apple wedges are sweet and easy to eat. Offer some variety with melon balls, orange sections and pear slices. Consider a small cup of berries with sugar-free whipped cream. Experiment with new unfamiliar fruits like Kiwi or pomegranates. You can also serve fruit with fat-free, sugar-free dip. Since fruit is a carbohydrate, remember to watch portions.
- Vegetables can be another healthy choice for children with diabetes. Consider serving baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices with fat-free, sugar-free dressing, salsa or hummus to dip them in. Stuff celery sticks with low-fat cream cheese, peanut or almond butter.
- When you shop for diabetes-friendly after school snacks, read the food labels carefully. Low fat could mean it has more sugar and calories. Give them a variety of healthy options and let them make their own choices. Advise them of the proper times to snack. Choose healthy snacks yourself to encourage your children to make the best choices.
Children with diabetes may need to have after school snacks. Some children with Type 1 diabetes may not be permitted to eat between meals due to their insulin regimen. Always discuss this with your doctor. It is a great opportunity to teach them about portion sizes, choosing the right foods and variety. Make snacks fun and tasty, so children develop a healthy habit that will last a lifetime.