Snacking is an important part of the diabetic diet, particularly for those individual who suffer the effects of low-blood sugar during their sleep. A small treat right before bed helps stabilise blood sugar, but it's important to reach for foods that aren't calorie loaded. Good snacks at bedtime include those that combine carbohydrates and protein with a little fat, without skyrocketing glucose levels.
Diabetics should choose a carbohydrate at bedtime that contains few calories and very little sugar. Saltine crackers, low-fat popcorn and fat-free tortilla chips are examples of appropriate snacks, although fruit is the more diet-friendly option. Apples, pears, oranges and grapes can help overcome a craving for sweets without drastically altering blood sugar levels.
Protein is an important aspect of the diabetic nighttime snack since it counteracts the carbohydrate, helping to keep blood glucose levels stable. Examples of healthy protein-loaded snacks for bedtime include a glass of skimmed milk, a cup of yoghurt, cheese and peanut butter. Some proteins also double as a carbohydrate serving, such as yoghurt or a glass of milk, which means that they could be eaten alone as the snack. Others, such as peanut butter and cheese, are better consumed in small portions with a carbohydrate, such as crackers.
A bedtime snack for a diabetic can contain some healthy fats, but these should not be mistaken for sugary junk foods that are high in calories. Since cookies, ice cream, crisps and snack cakes are likely to contain unhealthy fats, they should be eaten infrequently or not at all. Snack foods that are sources of healthy fat include almonds, cashews, peanuts, peanut butter and avocados.
Diabetics should remember not to turn the bedtime snack into a full meal. This means paying close attention to portion size. Ideal serving sizes for nighttime snacks are a cup of fruit, three saltine crackers, a tablespoon of peanut butter or other spreads, 3 cups of popped popcorn, three small cookies, and 236ml. of milk. Keep in mind that the purpose of the snack is to manage blood sugar levels, not to fill the stomach.