“Can a diabetes diet include desserts?”
This is a relevant question for diabetics, especially when we are right in the middle of the festival season.
The answer is a happy yes, with some adjustments.
Living with diabetes need not mean giving up sweets, particularly when our culture includes festivals and cuisines that excel in delicious dessert recipes.
Also, the truth is, when denied one’s favorite foods, it is natural to feel tempted to binge occasionally and that is not ideal for blood sugar control. Enjoying sweets on a diabetes diet comes with a few precautions. Be mindful of these and indulge without feeling guilty.
A note on carbohydrates and the diabetes diet
A healthy diabetes diet is about balance: knowing what you are eating based on your nutritional recommendations, carbohydrate, sugar and calorie content, making healthy choices and exercising portion control—all while maintaining a healthy weight.
The good news is, many Indian sweet shops considerately offer diabetes-friendly low-sugar sweets these days.
If, like me, you enjoy cooking, you can use diabetes-friendly substitutes. The advantage with home-made is there are no hidden ingredients.
Even though desserts seem taboo for those with diabetes, what matters is the total number of carbohydrates in a meal or snack than the total amount of sugar. Basically, dessert can be part of your diet, but with some adjustments. Just keep these in mind before you reach for those sweets.
- Should you go for dessert after dinner, remember to ensure that you don’t eat carbohydrates in your meal. Remember that even if you swap your sweet potato for that delicious dessert to keep your carbs balanced, you will miss out on the fiber and other nutrients that sweet potato gives you. Avoid anything that’s made from refined flour or deep fried. Also, don’t make dessert a staple part of your meal—enjoy it occasionally.
- Portion control is another important point. Limit carbs to 45-60 grams per meal and keep track of this. The problem with baked goods and other sweets is even one piece exceeds that quota. So take smaller portions. This way you will enjoy your dessert and also stay on track. If you are ordering food, ask for a mini or kid-size portion.
- Be mindful of artificial sweeteners. While these are touted as zero calorie and many desserts use these for sweetening, because they are far sweeter than sugar, they are likely to increase your craving for sweets and that’s the last thing you need. Artificial sweeteners also interfere with your gut bacteria, which in turn, affects the body’s ability to regular blood sugar.
- Consider reaching for a fruit in lieu of a sweet—good for both diabetics and non-diabetics. Fruits are filling, provide you with nutritious fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fiber is important for stabilizing blood sugar and managing cholesterol.
Of course it is tempting to enjoy yourself especially when it is festival season; and eating a healthier and portion controlled sweet can definitely be part of the diabetes diet. The key to blood sugar control is to tweak your treats so that they can be part of your diet. Always talk to your doctor about any changes you make to your diet.
For more information and tips about how to include desserts in the diabetes diet, read my post Making Dessert Work in a Diabetes Diet – in this post, I discuss:
- artificial sweeteners, their impact on blood sugar levels
- how to take advantage of diabetes-friendly substitutes
- some popular Indian dessert recipes that can be “configured” for the diabetes diet.
I’ve also included my favorite diabetes dessert: this apple-and-cinnamon recipe is easy to make, low in calories and delicious without added sugar.