Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, the founder of Milk & Honey Nutrition, is a diabetes dietitian (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) renowned for combining her knowledge of diabetes and culinary expertise into easy-to-follow recipes and articles!

19 Low glycemic snacks for diabetes

toast with chocolate spread and blueberries

Eating low glycemic snacks throughout the day can make it easier for people living with diabetes to manage their blood sugars. 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with diabetes, you’ve probably heard of the glycemic index chart… but you may not know exactly what it is. The glycemic index of a food is a numerical rating (on a scale of 0-100) that indicates how quickly or slowly that food can raise blood sugar levels. Keep reading for more info and for my favorite low glycemic snacks for diabetes. 

toast with chocolate and blueberries

What is the glycemic index chart?

The glycemic index of a food is a numerical rating (on a scale of 0-100) that indicates how quickly or slowly the carbohydrate in that food can raise blood sugar levels. 

Our bodies digest carbohydrates (and specifically simple carbohydrates) quicker than any other macronutrients. This means that simple carbs can raise blood sugar levels quickly. And thus, they have higher glycemic index rankings. But, foods that have more complex forms of carbohydrate, like fiber, are digested slower because it takes your digestive tract longer to process them. Aka, it has less of a glycemic IMPACT. Thus, blood sugar levels remain more stable and are less likely to spike.

This article from Harvard gives a great summary of the glycemic index and gives the rankings for some more common foods. And the American Diabetes Association published this comprehensive list that you can view as well. 

Foods with a glycemic index score of 55 or below are considered low glycemic index foods. Foods with a glycemic index of 56-69 are considered medium GI foods, and foods with a glycemic index of 70+ are considered high GI.

What about glycemic load?

While knowing the glycemic index score of a food can be helpful. It doesn’t tell the whole story. The glycemic index score only tells us how quickly the food can raise your blood sugar. It does not offer any information about how much of the food you are eating though. Glycemic Load is a more holistic, useful metric.

Watermelon is a common example used to show the difference between glycemic index and glycemic load. The glycemic index of watermelon is 80. It is considered a high glycemic index food because the type of carbohydrate it contains can raise blood sugars very quickly. But because the actual quantity of that carbohydrate is fairly low in a normal size serving, the glycemic load of watermelon is only 5. 

Low glycemic load: less than or equal to 10

Medium glycemic load: 11 – 19

High glycemic load: 20=

Glycemic load takes into account the type of carbohydrate a food contains and how much of the carbohydrate it actually contains. 

Low glycemic foods list

Now, I know this might seem a bit complex and like a lot of calculations. And it is. Do you need to go calculating the values for everything you eat? Definitely not. But it is good background information to help inform your food choices. Focusing on complex carbohydrates, protein, and better-for-you fats will usually result in a low glycemic eating pattern, without you needing to calculate or worry about these things.

Some examples of low glycemic foods include:

  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Whole grain bread
  • Hummus
  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Kiwi fruit

How to make low glycemic index snacks

Making low glycemic snacks for diabetes doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s important to choose a carbohydrate source and pair it with a protein and/or plant based fat source. The possibilities are really endless! The list of low glycemic snack for diabetes at the end of this article has some great ideas!

19 Low glycemic snacks for diabetes

Some great low glycemic snacks for diabetes are:

  • Popcorn
  • Trail mix
  • Peanut butter
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Fruit and cheese
  • Ricotta cheese on whole grain bread
  • Greek yogurt
  • Avocado toast
  • Apple slices with nut butter
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Berries and plain yogurt
  • Raw nuts
  • Meat sticks
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Energy Bites
  • Edamame
  • Chia seed pudding
pinterest graphic for low glycemic snacks with toast and blueberries

And, my cookbook The Easy Diabetes Cookbook has even more amazing low glycemic snack ideas!

how to order the easy diabetes cookbook

More to explore...

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7 Responses

  1. By having type 2 diabetes, it can be difficult to find good snack combo. So many good snack ideas, Thank you.

  2. This was a very helpful article. When I look up snacks for diabetics, I’m always surprised by some of the higher glycemic foods I see. I’ve ordered cookbooks for diabetics, and time and again I’ve thought to myself, “this can’t be right…” when I read the nutritional information. I learned about the glycemic index by accident, so having a list of quick snacks that I know are on the low side is very helpful! Thank you!

  3. Hi i was so glad i came across ur info and things available but not so happy to go thfu the forn to be told the stuff is not posted to the uk very disappointed indeed the choc/ berry and nutreat. The bit i dont get is on the order form it says shipping so i will use the info there is on the right foods but was hoping for something different just my luck but thank you for this bit of info. Kay

  4. Thank you for this article I have a son who is 15 autistic and his finger started tingling and I noticed him drinking a lot of water so I’m nipping this in the bud now before the bloodwork even comes back so having this list is great🫶🏼

  5. One month + 1 day post hospitalization diabetic ketoacidosis. Diagnosed 10yr old type 1 the same day as hospitalization.

    Very informative guide. This is the support we need. Thank you! Definitely a resource I will frequent and share!

  6. Being Type 2 and working construction on the road makes it near impossible to find things that are healthy, easy to prepare in a hotel room and provide enough Energy for a 10 to 12 hour day but going to try some of these suggestions on the site and hope it gets me lower.


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