Snack Ideas for Treating Low Blood Sugar

A package of Nate's honey minis next to a cutting board with apple and orange slices, carrots and pretzels.

This is a guest post from Mary Ellen Phipps, registered dietician and nutritionist (RDN) who has lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was 5-years-old. 

Hypoglycemia can happen to anyone living with diabetes, and even some people without diabetes. Having food or drinks on hand to treat a low blood sugar is a necessary part of managing blood sugars.

What is hypoglycemia?

Hypoglycemia happens when your blood glucose value is < 70mg/dL. But, your doctor may recommend treating a low blood sugar at a different value depending on your lifestyle and other factors.

Hypoglycemia symptoms to look out for

Hypoglycemia can cause:

  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Tiredness
  • Blurry vision
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Numbness in your extremities
  • …and more

Hypoglycemia can also have no symptoms at all in some people. If you find yourself prone to low blood sugars, monitor your blood sugar closely and always have a low blood sugar treatment on hand. 

What happens if hypoglycemia is not treated?

If untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to loss of consciousness, seizures, and even death. Being prepared with low blood sugar treatments is extremely important.

The rule of 15

The rule of 15 his a common approach to treating low blood sugars. It says that if your blood sugar is low, you should eat 15g of rapid acting carbohydrate, and then wait 15 minutes. Re-test your blood sugar, and if it is not back to normal levels, consume additional carbohydrate.

I’ve been living with type 1 diabetes for over 31 years, and I’m a registered dietitian… And, I find this rule very frustrating. There are so many thing that can influence how much carbohydrate is needed when your blood sugar is low, and how long it will take for your blood sugar to come back up to normal levels. Talk with your doctor or health care team to develop a personalized low blood sugar treatment plan.

So, what can you eat if your blood sugar is low?

The best food for a low blood sugar is what we call “rapid acting carbohydrate.” Rapid acting carbohydrates are foods that contain sugar and have minimal or no fat and protein. Fat and protein delay sugar absorption. Normally, this is what we want, but not when your blood sugar is low.

Examples of good low blood sugar treatment options include:

  • Fat free candies
  • Juice
  • Honey
  • Glucose tablets and gels
  • Applesauce

“Unhealthy” low blood sugar treatments

Many people worry about using candy or other high sugar foods because we usually advise not eating these things very often. But, the most important thing when your blood sugar is low is to treat the low blood sugar with what you have on hand. Stressing about finding a healthy option is not helpful.

My favorite low blood sugar treatments

I have many memories from childhood of having to eat glucose tablets when my blood sugar was low. And, for me, they always kind of tasted like chalk. So, I tend to prefer other foods when my blood sugar is low. Some of my favorites are:

Low blood sugar treatments for kids

For kids, we want to pick low blood sugar treatments that don’t take a long time to eat and are easy for them to drink or chew. My top picks include:

  • Nature Nate’s Honey Co. honey minis
  • Applesauce pouches
  • Juice boxes

Easy on-the-go low blood sugar treatment

Honey is quick and easy to consume, and raises blood sugars quickly. I love the mini pouches from Nature Nate’s Honey Co. that I referenced above. They’re compact, portable, and incredibly convenient and easy to throw in a purse or bag.

Relentless Quality.
Ridiculously Good Taste.
Confidently, the Most Trusted Honey.