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How to Make Smart Dessert Decisions for Diabetics
Are Sweets Off the Menu for Diabetics?
If you or a loved one has diabetes, you probably think that any sweet-tasting food is forbidden. It is true that items high in fat, low in fiber and with added sugar are best to be avoided or significantly limited. A diabetes diet requires monitoring of these variables, as well as considerations of age, weight, activity level, medications, and more.
The good news is that you can learn how to make smart dessert decisions for diabetics. With some ingredient adjustments and smart shopping, you will find that there are a variety of sweet-tasting treats that can be enjoyed (with doctor's permission, of course) even if you have diabetes. As with any indulgence, moderation and portion control is key.
I have had Type 1 diabetes since 2003. I'm an active, marathon-running mother of four, and I definitely allow myself the enjoyment of dessert from time to time. I will admit that when I was first diagnosed, I despaired - believing I could never again enjoy some of my favorite treats. Fortunately, I soon discovered a number of tasty diabetes recipes and learned how to make smart dessert decisions that allow me the occasional indulgence without the guilt or medical side effects.
**Before following any advice in this hub, be sure to consult your doctor and/or a certified nutritionist.
Considerations for Choosing a Smart Dessert for Diabetics
In general, any sound diet decision for a person with diabetes will include as many of the following factors as possible:
- High fiber (fresh fruits, whole grains, minimal processing)
- Natural ingredients
- Low added sugar (consider healthy and natural low-calorie sweeteners such as Stevia, Organic honey, blackstrap molasses, and Xylitol)
- No high fructose corn syrup
- Baked, not fried
- High in antioxidants (fresh fruit, dark chocolate in moderation)
In addition to these factors, your doctor or nutritionist can provide guidance with respect to your own calorie and carbohydrate needs based on personalized activity levels, weight, sleep and stress levels. Before indulging, it is always a good idea to test blood glucose levels so that any adjustments in medication (or in portion size) can be made before indulging.
Diabetic Dessert Ideas
Desserts to Avoid if You are Diabetic
Desserts to avoid if you are diabetic, when possible, include:
- Doughnuts, croissants
- Cake, particularly with frosting
- Pie, especially with two crusts and made with sugar
- Most cookies, especially processed versions
- Sweet sauces, including fudge, sugared fruit, butterscotch, caramel
Dessert Options for Diabetics
As a rule, it is smarter for a diabetic or his or her family to prepare their own dessert, rather than order off a restaurant menu or select from options at a party or buffet. I have found that, even when an item is billed as "sugar-free" or "low-fat," there may be hidden carbohydrates or other ingredients that can sabotage your health. When you bake or cook at home, you know exactly what ingredients are in your diabetic dessert, which gives you an upper hand in calculating the amount of medication/insulin will be required to prevent a blood sugar spike.
Among many dessert options for diabetics, consider the following:
- Fresh sliced berries with low-fat whipped topping, if desired
- Grilled fruit - drizzle with honey if desired
- Fruit salad - fresh yogurt dressing makes this more of a treat
- 1-2 squares of dark chocolate (1-2 oz.)
- Sugar-free pudding (top with fresh fruit!)
- Sugar-free jello
- Sugar-free or low-sugar ice cream - note that sorbet is much higher in sugar than dairy-based frozen dessert options
- Fruit cobblers or crisps - these pie-like desserts lack a crust, which makes them healthier and lower in calories and carbohydrates (use sugar-free sweeteners if possible)
- Homemade oatmeal cookies with honey instead of granulated sugar
- Whole wheat muffins, preferably with fresh fruit or veggies (blueberries, carrots, raspberries, etc.)
Even with healthy desserts, be sure to watch portion sizes. It is advisable to limit treats to not more than once a day, and preferably only two to three times a week.
Thoughts About Dessert from a Diabetic
I will never forget the day that I was diagnosed with diabetes. My husband helped himself to a heaping bowl of peanut butter chocolate ice cream, while I looked on enviously. Let's just say that it didn't end well.
The good news is that, more than a decade into living with the disease, I really have lost a craving for sweets (in full disclosure, I still crave salty items that should be limited, such as potato chips). Perhaps it is because I feel so awful when I eat sugary items, no matter how much insulin I give myself. I cannot remember the last time I had pancakes or cinnamon rolls for breakfast, but I do love my lower carbohydrate breakfast fare with eggs and sauteed veggies.
In some respects, I think it is similar to my early pregnancy when my body rebelled against coffee and wine. Pay attention to how your own body reacts when you eat certain foods, and it will probably guide you in a sound direction. If not, then make a goal of eating "clean" for a month and then discover how much better you will feel from an energy and overall wellness standpoint!
Diabetics: What Kind of Dessert do you Most Crave?
© 2013 Stephanie Hicks