Free Food Facts

Jan 1, 1996

Q: Where can I get a list of "free" foods that people with diabetes can eat, and what types of snacks are available? It would be nice to be able to eat something and feel confident about what it will do to my BGs.

A: Foods are classified as "free" for people with diabetes when they do not contribute a significant amount of carbohydrate to the diet. That is to say that they provide less than five grams of carbohydrate per serving, or less than 20 calories.

Foods in the following list that do not have serving sizes can be consumed freely (for best blood sugar control spread the intake over the day). Foods with serving sizes should be limited to no more than three portions per day.

In terms of snacking, extra salads usually fit nicely. Otherwise, you may want to consider high-fiber crackers with lowfat cheese (depending on any dietary restrictions), or low salt vegetable or tomato juice. Some people find that high-fiber dry cereals without milk, small amounts of popcorn, or unsalted pretzels do nicely as well.

When considering sugar-free candy and chocolates, one needs to be careful. Some of these foods are not low-calorie and may offset your dietary goals. Others, like sugar-free hard suckers in small amounts, may be useful. You may want to discuss this further with your dietitian.

Free Foods Include:


  • Bouillon or broth (fat-free)
  • Seltzer water
  • Coffee or tea
  • Diet soft drinks and teas

Sweet Substitutes:

  • Sugar-free gelatin
  • Jam or jelly (sugar-free, 2-tsp.)
  • Whipped topping (2 tsp.)


  • Cranberries or rhubarb, no sugar added (1/2 cup)


  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Peppers (hot, chile)
  • Salad greens (all types)
  • Cilantro
  • Onions
  • Radishes
  • Sugar-free salsa


  • Catsup (1 tbsp.)
  • Dill pickles, unsweetened
  • Horseradish
  • Mustard
  • Taco sauce (2 tbsp.)
  • Calorie-free sugar substitutes
  • Hot sauce
  • Salad dressing (low calorie, 2 tbsp.)
  • Vinegar
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