Back to School Foods and Snacks

| Oct 1, 2000

Whether you're off to work or school, portable foods have become increasingly popular. Who needs the long waits and high prices of restaurants when your own kitchen can provide better food at better prices?

When planning any take-along meal, it's important for people with diabetes to consider the following:

1. Make It Nutritious

Three balanced meals and between-meal snacks (not too close to meal times) help balance insulin action and prevent low blood sugars, as well as optimize school or work performance.

To help choose foods that conform to nutritional guidelines, you should refer to the Food Pyramid (see figure 1) and the Nutrition Facts chart on food labels (see Figure 2). The pyramid's broad base represents foods that should account for most of a diet, while the middle represents foods to be eaten daily in moderate amounts. In the pointed top are sugary foods, which can be incorporated into the diet after a proper consultation with your diabetes dietitian. Meals should consist of at least three food groups. Snacks can be composed of one to three food groups, depending on the time of day they are eaten.

Guiding principles for meal planning include controlling fat, moderating sweets and building on a high-fiber base. For people with diabetes, the proportion and distribution of carbohydrates throughout the day are also key considerations. These can be worked out with your diabetes dietitian.

The Nutrition Facts chart on the back or side of food packages can also be of assistance as it provides amounts per serving information for nutrients such as fat, carbohydrate, dietary fiber and sugars.

2. Make It Interesting

Try a variety of tastes, textures, shapes and specialties. Use different breads-whole wheat, rye, pumpernickel, banana, nut or raisins, carrot or zucchini. Also, consider rolls, biscuits, English muffins, pocket breads or wraps. Lay on a variety of sandwich fillings, like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese and peanut butter. Mix and match raw fruits and vegetables such as turnip, carrot, cauliflower, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, pineapple cubes, kiwi slices, papaya, dried apricots and dates. Exploring the many cheeses available can provide variety in the dairy products groups.

Leftover pizza or hot foods such as baked beans or macaroni and cheese can be stored in a thermos to widen meal choices. To help create satisfying well balanced, portable meals, here are some new ideas:

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