We all know that people with diabetes work hard to keep their blood sugar under control. They often feel that they can never stray from their daily routines or have sweets as part of their diets. However, many people with diabetes still crave sweets and end up feeling guilty about eating them.
Although the holidays are over, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and the lure of chocolate and other sweets can be even higher at this time of year. To stay on top of diabetes management and keep that sweet tooth happy at the same time, try the following suggestions:
5 Simple Tips to Keep Your Sweet Tooth Happy
Choose low fat or fat-free sweets.
Fat-free vanilla yogurt and fat-free chocolate pudding are healthy examples of sweet foods that are low in calories. Remember to check the labels for carb content because all products are not created equal (1 carbohydrate serving is equal to 15 grams).
Angel food cake, sponge cake, and cream puffs are examples of other great tasting alternatives to high-sugar desserts. And bite-sized versions of brownies and cheesecakes can be found in the frozen section at grocery stores. Don’t let their small size fool you: these desserts still pack in a lot of flavor and can give just the right amount of sweet taste to satisfy your craving.
Aim for more fruit!
Fruit is a sweet source of vitamins and fiber that is also lower in calories than other desserts. You can top fruits with sugar substitutes like Nutrasweet or Splenda for an extra touch of sweetness. Top a bowl of strawberries with some fat-free whipped cream for a delicious snack that can be part of a healthy diabetes diet. Remember to count the carbs. (A serving of fruit is about the size of a tennis ball or ½ a cup of cut fruit, which equals 15 grams of carbohydrate.)
Beware of “sugar-free” items.
If it sounds too good to be true, it just might be. Many chocolates, candies, and cookies are advertised as sugar free, but they still may contain calories and carbs. And sometimes sugar alcohols (low calorie artificial sweeteners) are used instead of sugar to lower the carb content of foods.
Gelatin, hard-candies, and gum are often truly carb- and calorie-free. You can incorporate many of these items into your diet to keep your sweet tooth happy. However, as you might have guessed, it’s always important to check the nutrition label. The carb content will help you decide if the sugar-free cookie is worth the “cost” in carbs. Many times a small regular cookie just tastes better than a big sugar-free cookie.
Have sweet dreams.
A bedtime snack is generally advisable for people with diabetes. A good suggestion is a protein and carbohydrate combination, like milk and cereal, or yogurt and graham crackers. If you crave desserts late at night try hot cocoa made with skim milk. (A tablespoon of cocoa is about 3 grams of carbohydrate, plus 12 grams of carbohydrate from milk for a total of 15 grams of carbs or one serving of carbohydrate.)
Baked goods can be prepared with fewer calories and carbohydrates. Substitute 1/2 a cup of Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking instead of 1 cup of regular sugar (or a recipe calling for 2/3 cup of sugar only needs 1/3 cup of Splenda).
The Bottom Line
Blood sugar control is a major part of diabetes management. People with diabetes do not have to sacrifice their favorite treats in order to be healthy. Moderation is key, with every food group, including sweets. A healthy diet can include the occasional piece of cake!
Sejal is a registered dietitian, a certified diabetes educator and she holds a masters degree in nutrition and health. Sejal was the project coordinator for the Veteran’s Administrations (VA) national weight loss program and previously worked for the VA hospital in Tampa, FL as a Spinal Cord Injury dietitian.
Sejal has had numerous clinical and community education experiences, including pediatric and intensive care nutrition support. She has also had the opportunity to teach nutrition courses at the community college level to students interested in pursuing health professions. One of her favorite areas of education is diabetes management.