Adventures in Low-Carb Snacking

I’ve logged a lot of miles on the road this summer. From planned trips back to my home state of Massachusetts to weekend getaways to neighboring states, I’ve spent many hours in the car. Conversations with my partner and friends on the phone, as well as podcasts, have helped time pass…but so has snacking on a variety of road-ready foods.

I admit that I often don’t choose the healthiest road trip snacks. I tend to gravitate towards “comfort” foods – anything from peanut M&Ms to cheese-flavored chips. I wish that I craved something better for me, like carrot sticks or celery stalks, but my intense dislike for long hours on the road coupled with the need for convenient foods only (i.e., nothing that needs refrigeration) results in me making less desirable snack choices.

In turn, my junk food cravings are typically disastrous on my blood sugar. I do bolus for the junk, but since I’m forced to sit idle in the car, I face more frequent and intense blood sugar spikes than I would if I were able to get some movement in shortly before or after consuming the food. So not only do I end up eating food that’s bad for me, I also have to deal with the consequences on my blood sugar, and it’s a lose-lose situation.

That’s why I created a little game for myself during my last long car ride. When my boyfriend and I stopped at a gas station to fill up the tank before driving for four hours, I decided to go into the convenience store that was located there and scour the shelves for the lowest-carb snack foods I could find that were also remotely appetizing.

Enter…”pork skins”.

low carb snack
The big selling point of this snack? The fact that it’s 0 carbs per serving!

The name itself is positively revolting, but the actual snack is a savory wonder for a T1D. It’s got 0 carbs in the ENTIRE bag. It also happens to be chock full of protein and is relatively low in calories. What a find! We totally crushed the entire bag in about two hours flat.

Other findings from this particular trip include a lower-carb bag of trail mix that was incredibly satisfying. I was pleased to have found one that wasn’t a mix of 20% nuts and 80% candy/dried fruit, because the latter is what always messes up my blood sugar. I also snagged a bag of beef jerky, because I can always count on that to be a delicious low-carb treat.

And my drink of choice? I found a blue Gatorade Zero, which I’d never had before because it’s not sold in stores I go to when I’m up north. I loved it and was especially appreciative for it after a weekend of not getting enough fluids.

All in all, it was kind of fun to see what kinds of snacks I could find that wouldn’t do damage to my blood sugar. I wound up finding some stuff that’s bound to become staples for future road trips, and was so sated by the combination of them that I didn’t even need to cook dinner when I got to my apartment. Turns out that low/lower-carb snacks pretty much rule!

Memory Monday: The First Time I Tried Sugar-Free Chocolate from Yummies

Memory Monday is following a slightly different format from here on out! One Monday per month, I’ll take a trip down memory lane and reflect on how much my diabetes thoughts, feelings, and experiences have unfolded over the years. Today, I remember…

…the first time that I tried sugar-free chocolate. Not just any sugar-free chocolate, though: It was from Yummies, a massive candy emporium in Southern Maine. The store is lined, floor to ceiling, with bags upon bags of candy. You can bulk buy your favorites to your heart’s content as well as discover weird, relatively unknown confectionery creations. If you have a sweet tooth, it’s basically a saccharine paradise.

When I was younger, I watched a lot of Phantom Gourmet – partly because it was always on the TV in my Grammy’s nursing home when we visited her each Saturday afternoon, and partly because I was a growing foodie who loved learning about local hot spot eateries. At around nine years old, an episode that featured Yummies aired on TV, and I discovered that they had an entire case devoted to sugar-free chocolates in their store. I knew I had to go check it out; fortunately, my parents were willing to take me there next time we trekked up to Maine.

31E33B9B-61EB-4AC9-9894-C1AAE220D4F9
Yummies, also known as candy lover’s paradise.

I’ll never forget the first time I walked into that store. My jaw dropped as I laid eyes on the 10,000 pounds of candy they had on display. As I wove through the rainbow-hued aisles, I could practically feel my blood sugar spiking. But I was on a mission to find the sugar-free section that looked so delectable on television that I could practically taste it.

I heard angels sing hallelujah when I laid eyes on the aforementioned case of chocolates. There were so many choices! And all of them were made in the store, guaranteeing higher quality! It was a T1D chocolate lover’s paradise: There were fudge meltaways, peanut butter cups, almond bark, coconut clusters, sea salt caramels, chocolate peanuts, malted milk balls, peppermint patties, and even more beyond that. I remember marveling at the variety for a solid five minutes before I was told by my father to hurry up and make my selections. I don’t remember exactly what I chose, but it definitely included the meltaways and peanut butter cups. Once they were paid for and I was back in the car with my chocolate treasures, I took my first bite and could scarcely believe it was sugar free candy – that’s how awesome it tasted.

Every summer since then, I’ve made an annual visit to Yummies to pick up my tasty sugar-free chocolates. It brings back memories of being a little kid stepping into that store for the first time, memories that are almost as sweet as the candy inside.