Foods You Should Always Carry With You for a Snack

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It happens all the time — you are running around doing errands and all of a sudden the hunger hits. You've gone from not realizing you are hungry to starving within a matter of minutes. Feeling starved is not a good thing for a variety of reasons: 1) It doesn't feel good, 2) You will often make a food choice that is not healthy because of it, and 3) It makes you vulnerable to overeating. For someone with diabetes, leaving too much time between meals can be dangerous, especially if you are taking medications that can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

If you suspect you are having a low blood sugar or you feel symptomatic — shaky, sweaty, confused or disorientated — you should test your sugar to confirm and treat it promptly. The best remedy, though, is to prevent this from happening altogether. Keeping healthy, nutritious, calorie-controlled snacks on hand is a great way to curb your hunger, increase your nutrition and prevent low blood sugars. Portable, shelf-stable snacks that can be left in your car or carried in your bag will suit best. 

Pre-portioned Unsalted Nuts

Nuts contain a large amount of unsaturated fat which can be favorable for cholesterol. They are also low in carbohydrates, rich in minerals such as potassium and high in fiber and protein — making them a very filling snack that won't cause blood sugar spikes. But, they can be very caloric so it's important to keep your portion to one serving. Buying portable pre-portioned unsalted (too much sodium can increase your blood pressure) nuts is a good way to prevent overeating. If you are looking to save some money, you can make them yourself by simply measuring 1/4 of a cup of nuts and place into a baggy.

Nutrition info: 1 oz of most nuts contains about: 160 calories, 14 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 g cholesterol, 0 g sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 6 g protein 

A Snack Bar

This can be tricky because many snack bars are simply glorified candy bars. Aim to choose a snack bar that is lower in carbohydrates (no more than 30 grams), has at least 3 grams of fiber and 8 g of protein and is limited to no more than 10 g of sugar. Check out some bars that work best to curb hunger, provide nutrition and won't cause blood sugar spikes.

100 Calorie Bag of Popcorn

Popcorn is a whole grain and is a good source of fiber. It also provides crunch and can substitute for an unhealthy snack such as potato chips or white crackers. The other plus to popcorn is that you can eat a nice portion and feel full and satisfied without overeating calories or carbohydrates.

Nutrition info per 3 cups air-popped or 100 calorie bag: ~100 calories, 1 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 mg sodium, 18.7 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fiber, and 3 g protein

1 Small Piece of Fruit

1 small piece of fruit (the size of a tennis ball) contains about 15 g of carbohydrate and 15 g of sugar. While I usually tell my patients not to eat fruit in between meals on its own to prevent blood sugar spikes, sometimes a small piece of fruit can come in handy to prevent low blood sugars. If you need to eat some carbohydrate mid-day because you are running around or going to exercise, then pairing fruit with a little protein such as nuts, low-fat cheese stick or even hummus (I know it sounds weird) may be a great option for you. Apples, oranges, and pears usually hold up well when in transport. 

Just Protein

Sometimes all you need is a low carbohydrate, protein-rich snack. If you are looking for 'portable protein' check out some suggestions for on-the-go snacks.

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