What Are the Best Bedtime Snacks for People With Diabetes?

If you are watching your blood sugar or have diabetes, these are the best snacks to pick up when you have the munchies late at night.

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Young woman using computer while eating popcorn
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Picking the right bedtime snack to nosh on before getting into bed can be difficult. You need one that won't disrupt your sleep cycle or make it harder to power down. A bit of candy or a slice from dessert, for example, might taste great, but chocolate and other sweet foods can stimulate you too close to bedtime. That will make it difficult to get drowsy or to sleep soundly throughout the night.

Plus, if you're prone to acid reflux or indigestion, you also want to avoid any bedtime snacks that are on the acidic side. A midnight antacid is no one's favorite bedtime snack.

For people with diabetes, it's even harder to find late-night snacks that will fill you up and won't negatively impact your blood sugar levels. You need to snooze, not wake up from a blood sugar alert in the middle of the night.

"In general, eating shortly before bed isn't the best idea, and it leads to extra calorie intake, the potential to affect sleep, and a possible rise in blood sugar, so people with diabetes need to take special care when evaluating how a late-night snack may affect their health," says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, founder of NutritionStarringYOU.com and author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook.

Common snacks before going to sleep include sweets and desserts, as well as snack foods like popcorn or chips. However, sugar-laden and high-carb snacks aren't good options for people with diabetes.

"For the most part, eating simple carbohydrates should be avoided while something with protein, fiber, and healthy fats can take longer to digest and help minimize a rise in blood sugar," Harris-Pincus says. Eating too many carbs before bed can cause higher levels of blood sugar in the morning, too, so it's not just about disruption of sleep.

"Some people who take particular diabetes medications or insulin may need a bedtime snack to prevent a blood sugar dip in the middle of the night, though, so it's important to discuss your plan with your doctor and dietitian for the best results," Harris-Pincus says.

If you need a snack, stick with something low glycemic and with staying power.

"It can contain 15 to 30 grams of a higher fiber carbohydrate, depending on your calorie needs, and a serving of protein," Harris-Pincus advises. Keeping diabetes-friendly snacks at home for those late night eats will make meal planning way easier, so look to these recommended snacks, which won't spike blood sugar or keep you awake.

The Best Bedtime Snacks for People With Diabetes

1. Cottage Cheese, Berries & Cinnamon

This high-protein and high-calcium food is creamy and filling, and it is low in sugar when unsweetened. Then, pile on a few toppings that promote stable blood sugar levels, like berries, seeds, or vegetables. Both will add some fiber to keep you full throughout the night.

"Cottage cheese with cinnamon and berries has slow digesting protein and fiber from the fruit, and cinnamon also has the potential to provide a small blood sugar benefit," Harris-Pincus says.

2. Hummus and Veggies or Whole Grain Toast

Grab your favorite hummus, and pull out a few veggie sticks or a slice of whole grain toast for some fiber and complex carbs without all the excess refined carbs and sugar. The hummus provides for a protein and fiber boost to increase satiety and keep blood sugar in check.

"A few tablespoons of hummus with carrots provides heart healthy fats, fiber, and plant based protein for a vegan snack option," Harris-Pincus says.

Snack - Sliced apples with nut butter
Meredith

3. Nut Butter and an Apple

Nut butter has wholesome fats to promote heart health and keep your appetite at bay until morning, while apples contain fiber (don't remove the peel!) to further benefit your gut and increase fiber content. The fiber also prevents blood sugar spikes from the sugar.

"A tablespoon of peanut butter and a small apple provides protein, heart-healthy fat, and fiber in a plant-based comfort food classic," Harris-Pincus says.

4. Greek Yogurt and Nuts

A serving of unsweetened, plain Greek yogurt or skyr yogurt is rich in gut-healthy probiotics and protein, and topping it with nuts increases good fats, fiber, and magnesium, the latter which soothes muscles and promotes relaxation.

"A low-sugar Greek yogurt with berries and a few nuts is a great balance of protein, fiber, and fat to help keep blood sugar stable, and research shows foods like strawberries and wild blueberries can help improve insulin resistance as well," Harris-Pincus says.

5. An Egg and Slice of Whole Grain Toast

Who says you can't have breakfast for dinner, right?

"A hard boiled egg with a slice of whole grain toast provides satisfying protein, fats. and fiber," says Harris-Pincus, but you can also whip up a quick omelet, microwave an "egg cup," or enjoy leftover egg scramble from breakfast on a slice of toast.

6. A Bowl of High-Fiber, Low-Sugar Cereal

Cereal gets a bad rap, since many are sugary and high in refined carbs. Yet, as long as you get a fortified cereal that is low in sugar and higher in protein, healthy fats, and fiber, you're free to enjoy it.

"A small bowl of high-fiber cereal with ultra filtered high protein milk contributes complex carbohydrates, and this type of milk is higher in protein and lower in carbs than regular milk is, which provides a better macronutrient balance," Harris-Pincus says.

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