Diabetes and snacks low in carbohydrate

This information is intended for people with diabetes. It gives ideas for snacks that are low in carbohydrate or do not have any carbohydrate. These can help if you are trying to keep your blood sugar levels stable or within a target range, but feel hungry between meals.

Treating low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia or a hypo)

A low blood sugar level is called hypoglycaemia or a hypo. You have a hypo if your blood sugar level drops below 4mmol/L.

If you have a hypo, do not try to treat it with snacks low in carbohydrate. You need to follow these steps immediately.

  1. Have a sugary drink or snack. A suitable drink is a small 150 to 200ml glass of non-diet fizzy drink or fruit juice. A suitable snack is 15 to 20g of a fast-acting carbohydrate. Examples are 3 to 4 jelly babies, 4 to 6 glucose tablets or 1 tube of glucose gel.
  2. Test your blood sugar level after 10 to 15 minutes. If it has improved and you feel better, move to step 3. But if there is little or no change, have another sugary drink or snack. Measure your blood sugar level again after 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. You need to prevent your blood sugar level from dropping again. Eat your next meal if it is due and contains a starchy carbohydrate, such as bread, pasta, potato or rice. Otherwise, have a snack that contains a slow-release carbohydrate. Examples are a slice of bread or toast, 2 digestive biscuits or a glass of cows’ milk.

If you take insulin or diabetes medicines that put you at risk of hypos, you may sometimes need a snack between meals. These snacks help to keep your blood sugar levels up and should contain some starchy carbohydrate.

However, if you frequently need carbohydrate snacks between meals to prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping low, speak to your healthcare team. They may need to review the amounts (doses) of insulin or diabetes medicines that you take.

If you are pregnant, it is important to read food safety advice before preparing and eating some foods. We have highlighted any foods that you need to take extra care with during pregnancy. Your dietitian or healthcare team can give you more information about this.

If you have any more questions or concerns, please speak to your dietitian or a member of your healthcare team.

Snacks with very little or no carbohydrate

Here are some ideas for snacks that have a very low amount of carbohydrate or no carbohydrate. You can combine these snacks with our ideas for snacks with 10 to 15g of carbohydrate or less.

Snack idea
  • 1 handful of nuts without added salt, flavourings or coatings (for example, almonds, macadamia, brazil, pecans, peanuts or pistachios)
  • 1 handful of seeds (for example, sunflower, chia or pumpkin)
  • Roasted beans (for example, wasabi peas, roasted chickpeas or roasted broad beans) or 1 handful or 1 cup of steamed or microwaved soybeans or edamame beans
  • Vegetable sticks (for example, celery, cucumber, peppers, carrots or baby corn) with or without dips like hummus (a dip made from mashed chickpeas), cream cheese, guacamole (an avocado dip), tzatziki (a Greek yoghurt and cucumber dip) or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
  • A bowl of mixed salad vegetables
  • Rhubarb (for example, stewed with ginger) and 2 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
  • Tomato stuffed with tuna or cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced tomato with pasteurised mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinegar and basil
  • Kale crisps (rinse and dry a bunch of kale, toss it in 1 tablespoon of oil and one-quarter teaspoon of salt, and roast at 150C in the oven or 130C in a fan oven for 20 to 35 minutes)
  • A few olives, pickled onions or gherkins
  • One-quarter to half of an avocado
  • A small tub of cottage cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of nut butter (for example, peanut or almond butter)
  • Cooked or canned fish (for example, tuna, salmon or sardines) or slices of smoked salmon (follow food safety advice about fish if you are pregnant)
  • Sugar free jelly

Snacks with 10 to 15g of carbohydrate or less

Here are some ideas for snacks with 10 to 15g of carbohydrate or less. Try to avoid having more than 1 of these snacks between each meal.

If you read food labels, you can find out how much carbohydrate is in a snack. For example, the label might tell you how much carbohydrate there is in each cracker or each serving of yoghurt.

Aim for no more than 15g of carbohydrate in each portion that you eat.

Snack idea
  • 1 to 3 small wholegrain crackers, oat cakes, crisp breads or rice cakes
  • 1 portion of fruit (for example, 1 handful of strawberries or raspberries, 2 small fruits like kiwis, plums or satsumas, 1 small to medium apple, 1 small or half a larger banana, 1 slice of melon or 1 medium orange)
  • 200mls skimmed or semi-skimmed milk or plant-based milk that is low in sugar
  • Hummus (a dip made from mashed chickpeas) or guacamole (an avocado dip) with 2 small crackers or bread sticks
  • 2 wholegrain crackers, oat cakes, crisp breads or rice cakes with low-fat cheese spread or cream cheese and cucumber or with peanut or nut butter
  • 1 mini wholemeal pitta bread or half a standard-sized pitta bread
  • 1 cup or small packet of plain popcorn
  • 2 tablespoons of Greek or plain yoghurt with seeds or a sprinkle of fresh berries
  • A low carbohydrate, high protein cereal bar (for example, made with nuts, seeds or coconut)
  • Cottage cheese with a small to medium portion of apple
  • A mug of tinned or homemade soup that is low in salt (for example, vegetable, chicken or miso soup made from fish broth and soya bean paste)

More information and support

Diabetes UK

Diabetes UK is a charity for people living with diabetes in the UK. It gives information and support to help people with diabetes manage their condition effectively.

Phone: 0345 123 2399 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
Email: [email protected]

Resource number: 3917/VER3
Last reviewed: March 2023
Next review due: March 2026

A list of sources is available on request.

Trusted Information Creator. Patient Information Forum

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the diabetes dietitians.


Appointments and admin: 020 7188 1916

We answer this number from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Medical advice: 020 7188 1993

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Southwark community diabetes team: 020 3049 8863


Guy's and St Thomas' diabetes team: [email protected]

We respond to your email within 1 working day.

Southwark community diabetes team: [email protected]

We respond to your email within 1 working day.

Pharmacy medicines helpline

If you have any questions or concerns about your diabetes medicines, please speak to the staff caring for you. You can also contact our pharmacy medicines helpline.

Phone: 020 7188 8748

We answer this number from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Email: [email protected]

We aim to reply to emails within 2 working days.

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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