If you have diabetes and a sweet tooth, you can enjoy occasional desserts or other sweet foods in moderation.
The keys are to keep portions small and to count the carbohydrates in these foods as part of the total carbohydrate allowance in your meal plan. The sugar and other sweeteners in your favorite treats are carbohydrates that affect your blood glucose the same as carbohydrates in other foods.
When your sweet tooth hits, try these tips:
Choose carbs carefully. Before you indulge in dessert, make sure to “spend” most of the carbohydrates in your meal plan on nutritious foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat or fat free dairy products that you need for a healthful diet.
Know your numbers. The Nutrition Facts Panel on foods is a great tool to help you fit sweet foods into your meal plan. Check the serving size and the calories, carbohydrates and fat per serving. Select recipes that list nutrition information.
Use trade-offs to keep carbs consistent. When you want dessert after dinner or something sweet for a snack, use trade-offs to keep the total amount of carbohydrates for your meal or snack within the amount budgeted in your meal plan. For example, to include a half-cup of ice cream that contains 15 grams of carbohydrates, you could skip a slice of bread, which also contains 15 grams of carbohydrates. Note: You must “trade” foods within the same meal or snack. You can’t “save” carbs from breakfast and eat them at lunch.
Make sweets small treats. Watch portion sizes for sweet foods to make sure you don’t get too many calories or carbohydrates, or too much fat. Use the serving size information on the Nutrition Facts Panel as a guide, or try small packages 100 calorie treats. When you indulge in your favorite special-occasion dessert, take a small portion or split it with a friend—then enjoy every bite. Or choose a sweet that’s already small such as an unfrosted cupcake or “kiddie-size” ice cream cone.
Try tasty alternatives. Sugar-free and reduced-fat versions of foods such as pudding, cake, cookies and ice cream make it easier to fit sweets into your meal plan. Sugar-free foods are usually sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners, but it’s wise to check labels for calorie and total carbohydrate information to see how they fit in.
Feel free. You can enjoy “free” foods that contain less than 20 calories per serving such as sugar-free flavored JELL-O Gelatin, diet soft drinks, low-calorie sweeteners and sugar-free gum as often as you like. You also may include up to three servings a day of foods such as low-fat or fat-free COOL WHIP Whipped Topping (2 tablespoons), low-sugar or light jam or jelly (1–2 tablespoons) sugar-free pancake syrup (1–2 tablespoons) or sugar-free hard candy (2–3 pieces), but spread them throughout the day so they don’t raise your blood glucose. It’s a good idea to discuss with a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator how to fit certain foods in your meal plan if you’re not sure.