For people with diabetes, it is important to make sure that the blood sugar levels are balanced. High levels of blood sugar can give you headaches and blurry vision, and make you feel dehydrated. Low levels of blood sugar can make you feel confused, dizzy, irritable, hungry and may cause trembling.(1)
What you eat and how much of it you eat plays a determining role in your blood sugar levels. Your body quickly converts simple carbohydrates into a type of sugar called glucose, which leads to a spike in your blood sugar levels. Fats and proteins are also converted into glucose, but at a much slower rate as compared to simple carbohydrates, examples of which include candy, table sugar, syrups, and soft drinks.
Why people with diabetes should not have long gaps between meals
Not eating for long hours on end and not having enough fluids can lead to fluctuating sugar levels and make you dehydrated. It can cause a sudden dip in your sugar levels (also known as hypoglycaemia) which can lead to numbness or fainting, or cause a sudden rise in your sugar levels (also known as hyperglycemia), which can cause headaches, problems in vision, excessive tiredness or thirst.
Prolonged levels of high blood sugar can lead to a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis, which can worsen your diabetes. This is a serious health issue, wherein your body starts producing more blood acids (ketones) than it should. Ketoacidosis can also occur when there is a huge drop in insulin levels (for example, if insulin injections or meds are missed). When this happens, the ketones start accumulating in your blood and urine. As a result, you may feel nauseous, dehydrated, have difficulty in breathing, and feel disoriented; in life threatening conditions, one may even become comatose (go into a coma). (2)
Here’s why snacking is helpful in diabetes
Having a healthy snack at regular intervals in between meals helps to maintain the balance in blood sugar levels, and prevents any hypo- or hyperglycaemic attacks. Remember, though, that the keyword is “healthy” snacking. If you end up consuming sugary or carb-rich foods as snacks, it will actually upset your sugar balance. So biscuits, cookies, muffins, chips, and farsan are all a strict no-no.
Instead, check out some of these recipes for diabetes-friendly healthy snacking options.
5 best snacks to have in between meals
1. Mix dal dhokla
This recipe uses a mix of dals which contain fibre and protein and can help to reduce your glycemic levels.(3)
2. Delicious bhel
Try this interesting bhel recipe with a mix of sprouts that are rich in fibre and fruits that will prevent your blood glucose levels from dropping low.
This recipe uses chickpea flour (besan) which has high amounts of fibre and protein along with various vitamins and minerals. It has very low hypoglycaemic index.(4)
4. Karela Muthia
Bitter gourd or karela is high in dietary fibre as well as magnesium, vitamins and potassium.(5)
5. Cabbage and Spinach Tikki
Cabbage reduces blood glucose levels, improves the renal function and has anti-hyperglycemic properties.(6)(7) Spinach is also very high in its fibre content.(8)
- Hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072694/
- Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024412/
- Higgins JA. Whole Grains, Legumes, and the Subsequent Meal Effect: Implications for Blood Glucose Control and the Role of Fermentation. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2012;2012:829238. doi:10.1155/2012/829238.
- Augustin LSA, Chiavaroli L, Campbell J, et al. Post-prandial glucose and insulin responses of hummus alone or combined with a carbohydrate food: a dose–response study. Nutrition Journal. 2016;15:13. doi:10.1186/s12937-016-0129-1.
- Yin RV, Lee NC, Hirpara H, Phung OJ. The effect of bitter melon (Mormordica charantia) in patients with diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition & Diabetes. 2014;4(12):e145-. doi:10.1038/nutd.2014.42.
- Kataya HAH, Hamza AA. Red Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) Ameliorates Diabetic Nephropathy in Rats. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. 2008;5(3):281-287. doi:10.1093/ecam/nem029.
- Jung HA, Karki S, Ehom N-Y, Yoon M-H, Kim EJ, Choi JS. Anti-Diabetic and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Green and Red Kohlrabi Cultivars (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes). Preventive Nutrition and Food Science. 2014;19(4):281-290. doi:10.3746/pnf.2014.19.4.281.
- Bunzel M, Seiler A, Steinhart H. Characterization of dietary fiber lignins from fruits and vegetables using the DFRC method. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 30;53(24):9553-9. PubMed PMID: 16302776.