Diabetes is a widespread medical condition in which blood sugar rises above ideal levels. Having diabetes does not mean that one will have to keep craving sweets and desserts throughout one’s life and never get to eat them. There are various kinds of foods that you can eat to satisfy your sweet tooth. The best part with these desserts and sweets is that they can help your sweet tooth without allowing your blood sugar level to increase in rapid and alarming ways.
All you need to do is make some adjustments to regular sweets and desserts so that they can suit your needs. Remember that your blood sugar levels are not affected only by the amount of sugar you consume but also by the amount of carbohydrates you put in your body. So, to prepare a dessert or sweet that you can eat without worrying about the blood sugar going up, you must take care of 2 things: total carbohydrates and simple sugars.
How Does Eating Sugar Affect Diabetes?
Studies suggest that sugar intake can increase the risk of diabetes because of the impact glucose has on the liver, including promoting fatty liver, inflammation and localised insulin resistance. Such effects may trigger abnormal insulin production in the pancreas and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Further, studies also suggest that eating high amounts of sugar can indirectly raise its risk by causing weight gain and increased body fat, independent risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.
Natural sweeteners are free from these risks. They satisfy your sweet tooth without risking high sugar levels and if used sporadically can be used to make some desserts.
7 Amazing Desserts and Dessert-Alternatives for Diabetics
Here are a few tasty options you can try to satisfy your sweet tooth, even if you have diabetes:
Fruits are delicious in taste and require no preparation so are handy to have instead of desserts. They have a rich amount of minerals, vitamins and dietary fibre. So not only are fruits a tasty dessert, they’re also good for you.
Paying attention to the glycemic index while deciding which fruit to eat is important. Research suggests that eating sugar-rich fruits with a higher GI like mangoes and bananas can spike your sugar levels. So picking fruits like berries, apples and pears is a better idea. You can also eat high GI fruits in combination with low GI fruits to prevent huge spikes in blood sugar levels.
You can chill or freeze your fruits like watermelon and grapes to give them a popsicle-like feeling when you eat them. You can also create fruit sorbets by freezing your fruits and then blending them.
2. Banana Ice Cream (Calories per cup: 210 kCal)
Bananas are a fibre rich fruit that are sweet so they can curb your body’s desire for sugar. Freeze a couple of bananas for an hour or two and then blend them with a splash of low fat milk or almond milk until smooth. Freeze again for about 10-15 minutes and then scoop in to a bowl and enjoy.
3. Whole Wheat Fruit Cake (Calories per slice: 96 kCal)
Cakes are loved by all and if made with fresh healthy ingredients, they can be enjoyed in small portions by even diabetics. The key is to use whole wheat or oats or quinoa as the base. Adding milk, curd and/or eggs to this gives the cake a good amount of protein. Additionally fruits and nuts can be added for dietary fibre. Stevia can be used as a sweetener if really needed. Vanilla essence and plain cocoa powder don’t affect sugar levels so their addition to the cake will make it a great dessert without affecting your sugar levels.
4. Dark Chocolate (Calories per 30gm: 96)
Research suggests that consuming dark chocolate can help in dealing with diabetes. The antioxidants in this diabetic dessert can help the body use its insulin more efficiently to help control blood sugar. As a result, it helps lower blood sugar levels naturally and allows your body to use more of your insulin.
Flavanols, compounds found in cocoa, enhance the ability of some cells of the body to secrete insulin. Insulin is the hormone that helps manage blood sugar. While choosing a dark chocolate bar, make sure that it contains at least 70% cocoa and limited sugary content.
5. Avocado Desserts
Make a yummy guilt -free avocado mousse to satisfy your sweet cravings. Avocados are rich in healthy fats and dietary fibre so they help control blood sugar levels. COmbine avocado with cocoa, a little dark chocolate, a splash of milk or almond milk, a bit of vanilla essence, a natural sweetener like agave or stevia or an artificial sweetener and a tiny pinch of salt. Blend together until smooth and then chill.
6. Greek Yoghurt based Desserts (Calories per 100 gm: 59)
Greek Yoghurt is a diabetic dessert. The easiest way to use greek yoghurt to satisfy your sweet tooth is to whip it smooth and add berries and a few nuts to it and then either chill for a while or consume immediately. You can also layer greek yoghurt, granola and berries to make a yoghurt parfait. You can also blend greek yoghurt with a little milk or almond milk, some stevia or sweetener, some cocoa powder and maybe even a little protein powder. Freeze this. Take it out at 20-25 minute intervals for about 1-2 hours and mix to keep the ice cream airy.
7. Milk based desserts (Calories: 100-150kcal)
A protein smoothie is effective in two ways: it helps increase protein intake, making it quite nutritious. Two, it helps in reducing blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin secretion. Adding ingredients like whey protein to insulin slows down emptying the stomach. It enables the liver to secrete more insulin, which helps control blood sugar levels. To increase the amount of nutrition, you can add leafy vegetables like spinach that would increase the amount of fibres.
Milk pudding or kheer made with milk or a plant based milk and some whole grain could be a great dessert for a diabetic. Combine brown rice, oats or broken wheat with some milk and saffron, a pinch of vanilla essence and a sweetener and cook down until the grains are cooked and the pudding/kheer is thick. Top with some slivered nuts and you have a great diabetic friendly dessert that helps control blood sugar spikes due to the fibre in the whole grains and the protein from the milk.
Foods and Ingredients to Avoid adding to your Diabetic Desserts
- Trans Fats: Artificial trans fats are very unhealthy. They are created by hydrogenating unsaturated fatty acids to make them more stable. However, they increase inflammation, insulin resistance, and belly fat. Excess trans fats are also related to lower HDL levels or good cholesterol and impaired arterial function. Commercial baked goods like cakes and cookies, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, fried foods and stick margarine contain high trans fats. It will help if you avoid them at all costs.
- Refined grains: White bread, refined flour and rice are high carbohydrates, high sugar processed foods. They have low fibre content as well. As a result, using these in desserts such as cake, bread pudding or rice kheer significantly increase blood sugar levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
- Honey, Agave Nectar and Maple Syrup: While most diabetics focus on reducing the consumption of white table sugar, it is also essential to check other forms of sugar like honey.
The following is the amount of sugar each of these sweeteners contains per tablespoon of serving:
- Honey: 17.3 grams
- Agave nectar: 16 grams
- Maple syrup: 13.4 grams
Sweets and Desserts for Diabetics: Precautions to take
- Always check the nutritional value of any food that you are consuming. For example, if the diet contains a high amount of sugar or carbohydrates, it should be a complete no. On the other hand, it’s better to have it if the diet has a high calorific value and good proteins, fibres, minerals, and vitamins.
- Have your sweet with a meal so that the protein fat and fibre in the meal prevent the sugar from the sweet from releasing very rapidly.
- Also consider cutting down on your cereals in the meal like rice, bread or pasta when you plan to have a portion of a dessert so that the net carbohydrate intake remains low.
- Always take small servings. It will satisfy your sweet tooth and, at the same time, will not let your blood sugar level increase beyond manageable levels.
- Do healthy food swaps as much as possible. You can swap out refined flour for whole grain flour and can use sweet fruits instead of sugar.
- Regularly monitor your sugar levels. It is good to have a sugar measuring machine at home. Measure them at least once a month and plan your diet accordingly.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Plan a Healthy, Balanced Meal
Consult a dietitian. Ask about what, when and how much you should eat. Then, try to follow the prescribed diet plan. You can treat yourself with desserts and sweets sometimes, though that depends on how well you manage your sugar and carbohydrate intake in the diet. If you have a sweet tooth and plan to eat sweets and dessert, you should consider cutting down on carbohydrates in your meal.
Control Your Portion Size
Some dishes may have up to 30 grams of sugar or carbohydrates per serving. If you have diabetes, you have to stay alert all the time. Taking a few servings of such a diet is enough to send your blood sugar levels soaring to an uncomfortable level. But that does not mean that you have to give up all the desserts altogether. Instead, take a small portion of whatever sweet you are having. It will satisfy your sweet tooth. At the same time, it will help you keep your blood sugar levels down.
Swap for Healthier Options
Look for swapping unhealthy stuff with healthy stuff. For example, instead of using refined flour, you can try wheat bran flour, multigrain flour or oatmeal flour. Choose diabetes-friendly sweets instead of the traditional sugar and calorie-loaded sweets. Instead of choosing sugar-loaded beverages, take the one with no added sugar.
Eat vegetables with low starch, such as beans, spinach, broccoli, cabbage and carrots, instead of high starch and glucose. Choose diabetic desserts which are low in sugar content instead of cakes, candies and cookies with additional sugar. Try salsa instead of ketchup.
Consider eating wheat pasta instead of regular pasta. Use cinnamon to sweeten the coffee, sweet corn and sweet potatoes for dishes. Opt for low sugar frozen yoghurt instead of ice cream.
Increase Fruit Intake
Perhaps the best option is to manage your sweet tooth and satisfy your cravings. Fruits have natural sugar. Further, they have added health benefits as they contain more fibre, vitamins, and minerals nutrients. These nutrients present in fruits take more time to digest. In addition, it stimulates the secretion of insulin. So, in addition to providing essential nutrients for the body, fruits help control sugar levels in the blood.
Having diabetes does not mean that you have to give up sweets and desserts for your entire life. Diabetic people can still satisfy their sweet tooth. The key is moderation. One should take sweets and desserts low in sugar and carbohydrate content and high on nutrition like proteins, fibres, and vitamins. In addition, one should maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes sufficient physical activity.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Are keto desserts diabetic friendly?
A. If you are on a keto diet with the advise of your doctor or nutritionist, then yes the keto desserts are diabetic friendly as they are low in carbohydrates and have almost no refined sugars.
Q. What is a good diabetic dessert recipe?
A. A fruit sorbet is a perfect dessert to try as it tastes great. Take some strawberries and bananas and freeze them for at least 2 hours. Add the frozen fruit in a blender and process them until smooth. You can try adding a touch or organic or homemade peanut butter as well for additional nutrients and flavour. You can have the sorbet immediately or chill for a while.
Q. What desserts can I buy for a diabetic?
A. There is a large number of desserts that a person with diabetes can eat without worrying about increased sugar levels. Some of them are granola bars with no sugar added, frozen yoghurt bites made with plain Greek yoghurt and berries, and low sugar avocado mousse. Other desserts include wheat crackers with nut butter and chia seed pudding.
Q. What kind of baked goods can diabetics eat?
A. Though most baked goods have a high carbohydrate content which is undesirable for a diabetes patient, there are many baked food options that a person with diabetes can eat. These include whole-wheat orange cake, sweets with dark chocolate and gelatin desserts. All these baked items have a small amount of carbohydrates and sugars. When taken in small servings, these can satisfy the sweet tooth without increasing the risk of blood sugar going up.
Q. Is ice cream OK for diabetics?
A. Yes, people with diabetes can eat ice creams. However, you need to be careful of the type of ice cream you choose to eat. Make sure that it has less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per half serving as carbohydrate content of more than 20 grams per half serving can raise your blood sugar levels. Also, it is essential to have the ice cream along with your meal rather than having it alone at a later point in time.
Q. Is Cheesecake okay for diabetics?
A. Yes, cheesecakes are okay for diabetes as cheese has a low glycemic index. It means that when eaten, it slowly releases glucose. Hence, there is no sharp rise in blood sugar levels after eating cheese. But if you are eating cheesecakes, make sure that you take small servings to make the carbohydrate intake manageable.
Q. Can diabetics eat sugar-free sweets?
A. Yes, a person with diabetes needs to avoid a high intake of carbohydrates and sugar. If any food lacks them, they can eat it without worrying about rising blood sugar levels. Even sweets and desserts that have low sugar content are permitted. The only condition is that they must be sugar-free or have low sugar content.
Q. Can diabetic sweets give you diarrhoea?
A. Diabetic sweets are sugar-free sweets. However, they contain sugar substitutes that can be difficult to digest. Such ingredients can lead to more water entering the intestine. It can also lead to a gas, uncomfortable feeling in the gut, and diarrhoea in extreme cases.
Q. How often can a diabetic eat sweets?
A. A diabetic can eat sweets more often than most of us imagine. But, a person with diabetes should check carbohydrate and sugar intake. The key is eating sweets in moderation to raise blood sugar levels. Once or twice a week is okay, as long as you are mindful of the amount of sweets you are eating in that sitting.