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Don’t we all love desserts? Those piping hot gulab jamuns, gajar ka halwa and those creamy cheesecakes. We are in heaven, literally! But can diabetics eat sweets? Do you have to give up on all that you love? This is a question that has been troubling people, especially diabetics with love for sweets, for too long.
Worry not, Parul Malhotra Bahl, Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, and Founder at Diet Expression, has all the answers to these queries. She tells HealthShots, “Anyone with diabetes can enjoy a dessert occasionally. No one has to give up on these sweet treats, but it is important to be mindful of the consumption.”
That’s because whatever we eat gets metabolized into glucose, and is released into the bloodstream. The insulin hormone allows this circulating glucose to enter every body cell, where it is utilized as energy.
“In the case of diabetics, since insulin is either absent or inefficient, the glucose remains in the bloodstream, and leads to a spike in blood sugar levels,” adds Bahl.
Whether it is sugar, refined or processed foods, they all get metabolized quickly in the body, causing a quick rise in blood sugar levels. On the contrary, high fibre as well as unprocessed whole foods take longer to metabolise and release glucose slowly in the bloodstream. So, to keep a check on sugar spikes, one must eat more nutrient-dense, unprocessed, high fibre, and whole foods on a regular basis.
Nonetheless, with a bit of strategizing, you can absolutely include sweets and desserts in your diet, as long as they’re part of a healthy eating plan and you don’t overindulge, says Bahl.
Here are some strategies to mindfully include sugar to your diet. Before you apply these strategies, make sure you have a well-managed blood sugar profile, says Bahl.
Complete elimination of sweets from your diet will leave you craving for them even more. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Stick to a healthy diet 80 percent of the time, and allow the rest of the time for an occasional indulgence.
If you feel like having a piece of cake, have it. Pick a very small piece and relish every bite. This will make sure you get complete satisfaction, and you don’t crave for more.
“Watch the carbs you are going to have in the complete meal, including the dessert. Cut out the carbs from the main dish like roti, rice, pasta etc and save it for the dessert instead,” says Bahl.
Whenever you wish to enjoy a dessert, pick the one you love the most. Don’t settle down for low-sugar versions, which you might not even like and end up eating more. Instead, have small portions of what you love the most.
“If you’re someone who gets sweet cravings often and finds it difficult to wait for an occasional treat, focus on whole fruits as they are delicious, and enough to satisfy you on a regular basis. They have fewer carbs and no added sugar, as compared to processed sweets. Plus, fruits have fibre, which will delay the release of sugar and will help keep a check on sugar spikes,” says Bahl.
The best time to have fruits is either as a pre-workout or an evening snack. Never have them as a post-meal dessert!