These snacks may be leading to weight gain and increased blood sugar and diabetes risk. Here is how to spot and avoid them.
Snacks can satisfy hunger and provide essential nutrients, but they can also contribute to weight gain and increased risk for diabetes. These are some snacks to be aware of in case you may have prediabetes and not even know it.
Problem snack: Soft drink or sports drink.
Soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened coffee beverages, and sweet tea are among the top sources of added sugar for Americans, and they are strongly linked to higher diabetes risk, not to mention weight gain. Water is a calorie-free, sugar-free alternative that is free.
Problem snack: Tortilla chips or potato chips
Crunchy, delicious, and convenient, they are also fatty, starchy, and high in calories. Veggie chips can be healthier options, but read the label: they often have potato or other starch as their main ingredient and have very little actual “vegetable” in them. Nuts can offer a crunch, though stick to a small serving size. Store-bought roasted seaweed snacks and baked kale chips with sea salt and parmesan cheese are other options.
Problem snack: Sausage sticks
They may be low-carb protein snacks, but they are full of saturated fat, which interferes with insulin’s action. Beef jerky is a lean alternative. Single-serving portable protein snacks that do not contain red meat include string cheese, plain yogurt, pouches of tuna, and hard-boiled eggs.
Problem snack: Candy bar
Candy bars take up a certain amount of space in vending machines, but too many of them are sure to expand your waistline and shoot blood sugar up. If you are stuck with the vending machine as the only option, look for nuts or at least trail mix. It will have healthy fats and fiber.
Problem snack: Cheese puffs
They may be puffy, but they are not really cheesy, since cheese puffs can have more starch or corn meal and more oil than cheese. Bean puffs and air-popped popcorn can be healthier alternatives if you want something puffy, and low-fat string cheese can satisfy your cheese craving.
Problem snack: Sandwiches
There is nothing wrong with a sandwich, but they can quickly get big or amass less-healthy ingredients, such as white bread, mayo, jam, and fatty meats. You can cut back on refined carbs by choosing an apple or celery with peanut or almond butter. To add whole grains, start with whole-grain crackers, half of a whole-grain English muffin, or a slice of whole-wheat bread and add peanut butter or tuna, low-fat cheese, or leftover chicken breast with lettuce, tomato, and mustard.
Problem snack: Cookies
Cream or peanut butter-filled sandwich cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and oatmeal cookies are standard vending machine fare, and toaster pastries are similar. They can be high in carbohydrates, sugar, fat, and calories, and low in nutrition. Instead, what about a piece of fruit, such as a sweet, crunchy apple? It is naturally portable and portion-controlled.
Problem snack: Granola bars
Granola bars and cereal bars often claim to be healthy, but they can be high in sugar and added fats. Instead, single-serve boxes of unsweetened whole-grain cereal, such as regular Cheerios, are healthier and just as easy. You can buy them in bulk and keep them where you need them, and even add milk for some protein.
If your snacks aren’t the healthiest, it may be a sign that there are other habits, too, that are putting you at risk for high blood sugar. In less than a minute, you can take the Diabetes Risk Test and find out if you may have prediabetes. Then check to see if you are eligible for Lark’s Prediabetes Prevention Program!