Sugar-free diabetic snacks for kids are limited and we’re all running out of ideas, so let’s share them!
Type 1 kids’ meal plans are all about balancing fun with healthy habits. Remember that your child, even if diabetic, needs about the same healthy diet as every child. There’s no such thing as a “diabetic diet for kids”. However, cooking for a diabetic child does require some nutritional knowledge and quite a lot of dedication!
Cooking for Type 1 children: a few tips
A diabetes-friendly diet for Type 1 children is absolutely not about avoiding carbohydrates. For normal growth, about 50%-60% of your child’s daily calories should come from carbs. It’s all about balance and bolus!
Stay clear of processed foods with high glycemic index
Rule #1 of a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet is to stay clear of processed foods as much as possible. Ready meals and ultra-processed foods are usually very high in added sugars, refined carbohydrates with a high glycemic index, trans fats, and artificial flavours.
It’s a major contributor to obesity, diabetes, and other illness around the World and in the USA.
Avoid high-carb snacks in between meals
Even if diabetic, your child needs carbohydrates to grow. Carbs have an essential part in a type 1 child’s daily diet. But they should be taken during the meals as much as possible.
If your child has a 3 or 4 meals daily plan, try to concentrate his carbohydrate and sugar intakes during these meals. This is when you will bolus with insulin to compensate and lower the impact on the blood sugar levels. To avoid sugar spikes during the day, limit high-carb snacks in between meals.
Check the nutrition labels and carbohydrate contents
You’d be surprised what’s really inside the food you buy. To avoid unfortunate glycemic events, be sure to always read the nutrition labels when you’re shopping for food. Start with the list of ingredients and prefer items with healthy ones.
Look at the total carbohydrates content per serving and pay special attention to the serving size. Total carbohydrate content includes natural sugars and added sugars, but also dietary fibers and complex carbohydrates (which are good!).
- Sugar-free does not necessarily mean carbohydrate-free
- No sugar added does not necessarily mean sugar-free
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Home cook as much as possible
Home cooking is the best way to control what exactly is inside your children’s meal and to adapt his meals each day according to his physical activity, mood, overall blood sugar levels, and cravings.
Home cooking for diabetic kids takes a lot of time. Try to plan meals ahead and shop accordingly once a week. It might also be the opportunity to learn more about batch cooking, a real time saver!
Involve your Type 1 child in cooking
Getting diabetic children involved in the cooking of their meals is a great way to raise their awareness about diabetes and healthy foods. It’s fun and children generally like sharing this activity with their parents.
Take advantage of these special moments to progressively introduce them to carb counting and to teach them how different foods can affect their blood sugar levels.
Sneak veggies and fresh products into your children’s meal
Diabetic or not, children don’t usually have a craving for veggies. But vegetables play a crucial part in a child’s diet. They’re a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fibers. They’re low-carb, low-fat, and low-calories yet very nutritious. They help prevent cancer and heart diseases. Vegetables are also ideal to introduce your child to plenty of different flavors and textures!
Sugar-free and low-carb snack ideas for diabetic kids
Children snack. They spend plenty of energy and need to recharge their batteries in between meals. It gets a bit tricky for diabetic kids as snacking cookies and muffins spikes their blood sugar levels and messes up their A1c. When your kid gets hungry and needs a bite, it’s better, when possible, to offer some low-carb yet nutritious and tasty alternatives.
Low-sugar Frozen Fruit Bars, tasty ice cream alternative for diabetic children
Frozen fruit bars are an excellent summer snack for kids, and even better if they’re home-made with fresh fruits and no added sugars. It’s very easy to make and only requires simple cooking tools and basic ingredients. The Strawberry fruit bar recipe from A Farm Girl’s Kitchen is great for diabetic kids as it contains only 2g of carbohydrates per serving.
You can substitute strawberries for any other fruit. Simply consider that not all fruits have the same sugar content. Prefer low-sugar fruits such as berries, kiwi, grapefruit, watermelon, oranges, or peaches for example.
Sugar-free Homemade Fruit Jell-O for Type 1 kids
Picture from Wholesomeyum
Sugar-free Jell-O is also a good snack idea for diabetic kids. It’s not the most “natural” product, but you can limit artificial ingredients by cooking it yourself. It’s much simpler than it sounds!
Wholesomeyum has come up with a great recipe for which you’ll only need 4 ingredients: water, strawberries (or any other fruit), allulose blend sugar replacement, and gelatin powder. Count from 5 to 20g of carbs per serving (1/2 cup) depending on which fruits you’re using.
Vegetable Smoothies, sneak veggies in your child’s diabetic diet
Here’s a great way to sneak some veggies into your type 1 child’s diet! You can imagine any kind of smoothies and create your own recipe, mixing low-sugar fruits with vegetables, milk, or yogurt.
Add sugar-free cacao powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon, or any other natural flavor your kid likes! If you’re looking for a low-carb snack, avoid bananas and sweetened plant-based kinds of milk.
Omelet Roll, a zero carb finger food your kid will love
Picture from Taste of Home
It’s one of the kids’ favorites! It’s easy to cook, has almost zero carbs, plenty of proteins, super tasty, very filling, and easy to finger snack on the go. A great diabetic snack for children! Count around 4g of carbs per serving (1 roll).
Taste Of Home recipe is great! The egg roll is filled with ham and cheese. You can substitute with any sugar-free fillings your kid likes!
Unsweetened Apple Sauce Pouch, fits into your child’s diabetes organizer
It contains a bit more sugar than the other ones but they’re all natural sugars from the fruits. For a pouch of unsweetened apple sauce (90g), count around 10g of carbohydrates. It’s still quite reasonable.
You can find unsweetened apple sauce pouches in pretty much every food store in the USA. You can also home cook it yourself. Anyway, I find it’s the ideal snack to take outside and have on the go for diabetic kids!
Dark Chocolate with Peanut Butter, for type 1 chocolate lovers
If your child is craving chocolate, a great alternative to high-sugar snacks is a combination of dark chocolate with peanut butter. One ounce (28 grams) of 70% dark chocolate contains about 12 grams of carbs.
Peanut butter contains more or less 20g per 100g of servings, so if you add one teaspoon of peanut butter on top of one ounce of dark chocolate, you get a kid-friendly chocolate snack for only 14g of carbohydrates! Something that would fit into most Type 1 kids’ healthy diet!
Mixed Nuts and Yogurt, a very filling snack for hungry diabetic kids
It’s a very nutritious and healthy snack idea for your type 1 child and will help to avoid blood sugars spikes in the middle of the day. For ¼ cup (32g) of a mix of almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, pecans, and hazelnuts, count about 7g of carbs. 100g of sugar-free non-fat Greek Yogurt averages 3.5g of carbs.
Combine ¼ of mixed nuts with 100g of yogurt and you’ll get a 10.5g of carbs snack for your kid. It’s super healthy, very nutritious, and tasty!
Cauliflower Popcorn, the diabetes-friendly alternative to high-carb popcorn
Picture from Taste.com.au
Movie night at home? Why not try cauliflower popcorn? You and your kids would be surprised how delicious it is! It’s not hard to make, it’s super healthy, and it’s a great alternative to high-carb popcorn for diabetic children’s movie nights. Plus, you’ll sneak a bit more veggies into your kid’s stomach!
I’ve found the best recipe to be from Taste.com.au. All you need is cauliflower, eggs, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, paprika, and other spices of your choice.
Jicama Crunchy Fries, the healthy fries for type 1 kids
Picture from A Sweet Pea Chef
What if I told you your kids can have a whole cup of fries for only 11.5g of carbs of which 6.5 of dietary fibers? Isn’t it a dream? Well, it’s possible. Not with potatoes of course but with Jicamas. Jicama, also called yam bean, Mexican potato, Chinese potato, or sweet turnip, has a sweet and starchy savor.
It contains only 9g of carbs per 100g, about half of the potato’s carb content. You can eat Jicama fries raw or oven baked. Here’s a great recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef.
We hope you’ve found some inspiration for your kid’s snacks. Please don’t hesitate to comment and share your own low-carb snack recipes for children with diabetes!