Diabetes-Friendly Gift Baskets

Safe and Delicious Edible Treats

Finding gifts for people with diabetes can be tricky. A pretty basket overflowing with edible treats can be a lovely and welcome present for many of your loved ones, but if the recipient has dietary restrictions to manage diabetes, you might need to consider your choice more carefully.

All too often so-called "diabetes-friendly" gift baskets have treats like sugar-free candies and cookies that have artificial sweeteners, which some people with diabetes try to avoid.

It's possible to purchase pre-packaged gift baskets meant for people with diabetes, but they can be filled with somber reminders of the condition—for example, books about the disease or products that are clearly labeled "safe for diabetes."

None of this is to say it's impossible to find diabetes-friendly foods and beverages that are fun, tasty, and not stigmatizing. The trick is to think outside the box (or rather, the basket) to find the best items for a diabetes gift basket.

This article will go over how to put together a gift basket for someone with diabetes. You'll also see examples of the best diabetes-friendly gift baskets that you can buy ready-made.

Gift Basket Ideas
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Dark Chocolate

A delicious bar of dark chocolate, especially one that's organic or artisanal, makes a great addition to a diabetes-friendly gift basket. Studies have shown that in small amounts, the cacao in dark chocolate may have a beneficial effect on blood pressure, insulin resistance, and vascular and platelet function—all of which are health concerns for people with diabetes.

How to Choose

Look for dark chocolate that's labeled 75% cacao or more and has no added sugar. Check the ingredients list for the grams of carbohydrates in the bar as well. Remember, people with diabetes should aim to get about 45% of their daily calories from carbs.

Gourmet Popcorn

As a whole grain, popcorn is rich in fiber and low in carbohydrates. It only has about 18 grams of carbs for a 3-cup serving.

How to Choose

The best bet for a diabetes-friendly gift basket is popcorn that's been air-popped and flavored with olive oil and/or herbs. You may even be able to find a brand that's divided into single servings and packed up nicely in a festive bowl or decorative bag.

Avoid kettle corn and other sweetened popcorn as they contain sugar or other sweeteners.

Fancy Fruit

Fresh fruit can be a colorful and healthy addition to a gift basket for someone with diabetes. Despite the natural sugar in fruit (fructose), most people with diabetes can include it in their diet. In fact, it's usually good to include because fruit is rich in fiber and other important nutrients. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) notes that fruit is a key part of a diabetes meal plan.

How to Choose

Use two criteria to select fruits for a diabetes gift basket:

  1. Choose those that are low in sugar and low on the glycemic index—an indication of the potential to raise blood glucose levels.
  2. Choose those that are hearty enough to travel well.

When you're picking fruit for a diabetes gift basket, your best bets will be apples, pears, oranges and other citrus fruits, peaches, apricots, and nectarines. Unusual varieties of any of these or a mix of colors and shapes can bring a basic basket of fruit to the level of a special gift for someone with diabetes.

There are also some fruits to avoid if you're making a diabetes-friendly fruit basket. Tropical fruits—pineapple, pomegranates, mangoes, bananas, and fresh figs—are high in sugar, as are dried fruits.

Berries have the least amount of sugar, but they may be too delicate to add to a gift basket unless you're certain they will be unpacked and used by the recipient right away.

Coffee and Tea

If your loved one with diabetes drinks coffee and tea, the beverages can be a great addition to a gift basket. They are available in a dizzying array of varieties from all over the world, so it will be easy to put together a coffee and/or tea-themed diabetes gift basket that's packed with interesting whole beans, loose teas, and tea bags, as well as cups, mugs, strainers, and other beverage-brewing gear.

However, keep in mind that for some people with diabetes, there is evidence that the impact of caffeine on insulin can result in higher or lower levels of sugar in the blood. Make sure that the person you're creating a gift for can tolerate caffeine before making a coffee- or tea-themed diabetes gift basket.

How to Choose

The beverages you include in a diabetes gift basket will mostly be a matter of taste, but steer clear of coffee or tea mixes that contain sugar.

Nuts

Nuts are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and low in carbohydrates. In numerous studies, nuts have shown health benefits for all people. If you're putting together a gift basket for someone with diabetes, nuts can be a great anchor.

Almonds, in particular, have been found to help with weight loss, normalizing glucose levels, and lowering risk factors for cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes.

How to Choose

While they pack a healthful punch, nuts are also high in fat and calories. Portion size is key to including them in any diet—even for people without a chronic disease such as diabetes.

One serving of nuts is about 1/4 cup or one small handful. Portioning nuts into single serving sizes in decorative baggies can be a nice touch. Nuts that need to be shelled, such as pistachios, require a little more work to enjoy. Also, unsalted nuts are a healthier choice than salted versions.

Pre-Made Diabetes Gift Baskets

You can also find ready-made diabetes gift baskets online. If you have a local store that makes gift baskets, they might be able to custom-create one for you that suits the needs and likes of your loved one with diabetes.

Even if a pre-made gift basket says it's diabetes-friendly, it's important to know your loved one's specific needs and preferences. A ready-made diabetes gift basket might not be right for every person with diabetes.

Here are a few examples of diabetes-friendly gift baskets that come pre-made:

If these or other pre-made options don't quite fit the bill, you can remove items that don't work and mix in some of your choosing.

Summary

The best diabetes gift baskets aren't just those with diabetes-friendly foods and drinks, but the ones that have had a lot of thought put into them.

If you are trying to put together a gift basket for someone with diabetes, you'll need to take their dietary needs into account. That said, don't let diabetes diet needs limit your creativity. There are plenty of ways to make a diabetes-friendly gift basket with items like fruit, nuts, and coffee.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What kind of snacks can people with diabetes eat?

    Each person with diabetes has different dietary needs and preferences. There are certain foods that tend to work well for a diabetes-friendly diet, like fresh fruit, nuts, and other snacks that are low in carbs and sugar like air-popped popcorn.

  • What kind of candy can people with diabetes eat?

    People with diabetes need to avoid added sugars, which most candy is full of. It is possible to get candies that are sugar-free, though they are often made with sugar substitutes or sugar alcohols. You'll have to find out what your loved one with diabetes prefers and can tolerate, as they may not want to have candy made with these sugar alternatives.

  • Can people with diabetes drink alcohol?

    Alcohol is often high in carbohydrates and sugar. Each person with diabetes will have to talk to their care team about what types of alcohol, and how much, would be safe for them to enjoy.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Larsson SC. Coffee, tea, and cocoa and risk of stroke. Stroke. 2014;45:309-314. doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.113.003131

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes and carbs.

  3. Uthus E. Is popcorn a healthy snack? It can be! USDA Agricultural Research Service.

  4. American Diabetes Association. Fruits.

  5. Dewar L, Heuberger R. The effect of acute caffeine intake on insulin sensitivity and glycemic control in people with diabetes. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2017;11(2):S631-S635. doi:10.1016/j.dsx.2017.04.017

  6. Gulati S Misra A, Pandey RM. Effect of almond supplementation on glycemia and cardiovascular risk factors in Asian Indians in North India with Type 2 diabetes mellitus: a 24–week study. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2017 Mar 1;15(2): 98–105. doi:10.1089/met.2016.0066

  7. American Diabetes Association. Alcohol and Diabetes.

By Elizabeth Woolley
Elizabeth Woolley is a patient advocate and writer who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.