Tom R. asks: "I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. During the day at work I eat very little, but in the evenings and weekends, I can't seem to stay out of the kitchen. Do you have any suggestions to control my snacking in the evenings and weekends?"
Answer: Before I offer some snacking tips, we should take a step back to examine your food pattern. Not eating much during the day sets yourself up for two problems: 1) unstable blood glucose levels and 2) excessive eating/snacking later in the day. Unfortunately, many popular snack foods are loaded with carbohydrates and fat, and contain very few nutrients and fiber, e.g. potato chips, corn chips, pretzels, etc.
It is especially important for people with diabetes to eat small meals throughout the day to keep blood glucose and energy levels stable. If you are not used to eating breakfast or lunch, I would suggest starting with something small, like a piece of whole grain bread with natural peanut butter. Plan to bring some healthy snacks with you to work. Some examples include:
- Almonds, walnuts or other nuts - plain or lightly salted
- Low-fat string cheese
- Hard boiled egg
- Apple or piece of fruit
- Hummus with carrot and celery sticks
- Greek yogurt - much lower in sugar and higher in protein than regular yogurt!
- Light or plain microwave popped corn
However, I do have some suggestions for snacking at home. First, when you find yourself hankering for a snack, take a few minutes to decide if you are really hungry or if you just "want" something - there may be a difference. If you aren't sure, start with some unsweetened, flavored seltzer water, sugar-free gum or herbal tea and then see how you feel.
I also suggest altering the availability of snack foods in your home - get rid of it or don't buy it! As I mentioned, most typical snack foods have few nutrients and they are designed to be tasty and leave you wanting more. They are hard for anyone to resist. Until you establish new habits, it is easiest to simply not have it available. Unless you live alone, this may take some family negotiations - see if you can limit the amount available if not everyone is on board.
Instead of chips or candy, have low-calorie, high fiber items around such as popped corn (you can make it and flavor it yourself on the stovetop or in the microwave) and fresh crunchy veggies (carrots, celery, broccoli), which are satisfying to chew. If you absolutely need to have something sweet, frozen grapes make a great treat, or you can try some sugar-free jello or a piece of high-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa) - you'd be surprised at how satisfying a small piece can be. Good luck!