Diabetes impacts all areas of your dietary life. But most people assume if they have to give up sugars and carbohydrates in general, then that means they have to give up desserts. That’s not actually true. You can still have desserts. It’s just being smart about the desserts and knowing what you can can not eat. In other words you need to maintain a balance between diabetic diet and desserts
Making healthy allowances
There are two ways to really allow for desserts into your diet. You want to think about the amount of carbohydrates that you are eating. Carbohydrates can have a huge impact on your blood sugar amount. This is because several of different sugar substitutes are not technically sugars but they still have properties that will raise up your blood sugar levels.
Another thing to monitor is your amount of sugars.If you want to indulge in a dessert, one of the first things you want to do is to make sure you make room in your meal plan for it. So at dinner, skip eating the starchy side dishes like rice and potatoes. Just have a lean protein and a vegetable. That way you won’t add too much sugar into your body and sending your blood sugar levels out of control.
Even with living room to have dessert, you still have to think about your sugars and portion control. Pure sugars that are often found in desserts will hit your body quickly. On top of that, you have a tendency to crave more of them.
- When Dining out-
If you are dining out at a restaurant, you are going to want a dessert that is a small portion. Fortunately, one of the big trends right now is to do shot glass desserts or small little treats. But if you are seeing only regular size portions or you want something that might be particularly high in sugars, then a great way to control yourself is to split the dessert amongst the whole table.
- When Shopping-
When you are shopping, think about the portion control. In today’s day and age, there is no reason to get a full chocolate cake if you can’t control yourself. You can get individually wrapped desserts now: cheesecakes, fudge pops and etc. While the individually wrapped desserts may cost a little more, having the instant portion control makes your life easier. Also when shopping for prepared foods, compare the labels and see what the carbohydrate level is and the sugar content- that way you are always picking the best options.
Another way to think about portion control is to have a “three bite rule” with desserts. Basically take three long, slow bites where you savor the dessert. Think of each bit as a part of a story- there’s a beginning, a middle and an end.
Sugar-free and no-sugar added doesn’t mean instantly safe
Sugar-free and no-sugar doesn’t mean it won’t affect your blood sugar levels. Technically, if they use fruit juice or sugar alcohols it’s not sugar since they are regular carbohydrates. So you still need to look at the ingredient list.
Here’s a few things to be mindful of:
* Natural Sweeteners: If a product has nectar or honey in it. This will make a product without adding any sugar to the content. But this will typically raise your blood sugar levels since they act just like regular sugar does. The only real exception is Stevia. Stevia is a natural sweetener that won’t raise the blood sugar levels and it’s all natural. So this would be the best product to use a sugar substitute and don’t want to go the artificial sweetener route.
* Sugar alcohols: These are sweeteners can be found in natural or artificially created. Typical names to look out for are: glycerol, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. These are most often found in prepackaged goods and can be labeled as “Sugar-free” or “no sugar added”. These will still increase your blood sugar levels although their impact on the body is about half as much as a regular sugar. Another benefit to sugar alcohols are that they are naturally sweet.
* Artificial sugars: These are synthetically made sweeteners. They can be even sweeter than sugar but they will not raise your sugar levels. Some examples are: aspartame, neotame, saccharin and sucralose. One thing to consider is that some artificial sweeteners can not be baked with.
* Sugar under other names: Sometimes food manufactures will use the technical terms for sugar. If you find dextrose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, lactose, malt syrup, sucrose, glucose or maltodextrin written on labels or packets- those all mean sugar has been added to the products.
What to look for
So when you are looking at desserts- here are a couple things to think about. Typically a frozen yogurt or a fruit option will be best for you. Most desserts like cake and chocolate will lack many nutrients and have those dreaded “empty calories”. So while fruit might be high in sugar, it will give you lots of vitamins and minerals as well.
If you are baking: think about making substitutions to many recipes. For example, you can replace oil with applesauce. If a recipe calls for sugar, you can replace it with an artificial sweetener (often you will have cut the portion size) or you can use Stevia instead. That way the sweeteners won’t raise up your blood sugar levels.
Finding good recipes for diabetics
Right now, there are so many different sites recommending various recipes that are safe for diabetics. It’s super easy to find options. I will have to say, I was a little skeptical of the first recipe suggested by Southern Living since it recommended covering the hands with sugar if the batter sticks which would make it harder to keep sugar levels under control. Look for recipes that will tell you about the carb levels and what type of sweeteners are they using in lieu of sugar.
I would recommend checking out: http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/diabetic-recipes/dessert/
Diabetic living does cater to those with diabetes but they offer so many pages on free recipes and great dessert options that won’t impact your diabetes.