Can Diabetics Eat Sweets?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that causes a person’s blood glucose levels to become too high. Although people with diabetes often need to carefully manage their diet, incorporating the occasional sweet or sugary food into a healthful diet can still be okay.

There is a popular misconception that people with diabetes must avoid all sweets and sugary foods. Carefully monitoring the carbohydrates and sugars a person eats is vital because of the impact it can have on blood glucose, or sugar, levels. However, it is still possible to eat sweets or sugary food, as long as it is part of a healthful diet plan.

In this article, we look at eating sweets as part of a healthful diet, types of sugars and sugar substitutes, and how to read the nutrition label on food packaging.

Eating sweets as part of a healthful diet

The amount of carbohydrate and sugars a person with diabetes can eat depends on factors, including:

  • their activity levels
  • whether they are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
  • whether they are trying to lower their blood glucose levels

A doctor or dietician can help people set personal goals and advise on a diet plan to suit their needs.

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes can still have sweets, chocolate, or other sugary foods as long they are eaten as part of a healthful meal plan or combined with exercise.

They consider a healthful meal plan to:

  • have limited saturated fat
  • contain moderate amounts of salt and sugar
  • include lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and healthy fats

However, it is best to save sugary foods for an occasional treat and enjoy them in small portions.

When choosing any food, it is essential for a person with diabetes to understand how it can affect their blood glucose levels. Knowing how to read the nutrition labels on food packaging can make this easier.

Many foods claim to be “sugar-free” or have “no added sugar.” However, these foods can still contain calories and types of carbohydrate that can impact a person’s blood sugar levels.

Types of sugar

There are three main types of carbohydrates:

  • simple carbohydrates, or simple sugars
  • complex carbohydrates, or starches
  • fiber, which is from plant foods and mostly indigestible

Both natural and added sugars are in foods. Examples of natural sugars include:

  • fructose, which is in fruits
  • lactose, which is in dairy products

There are more than 60 different names for added sugar on the ingredients list of food labels. Some common names include:

  • sucrose, also known as table sugar
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • corn syrup
  • brown rice syrup
  • agave nectar
  • honey
  • maple syrup
  • maltose
  • dextrose
  • malt syrup
  • glucose
  • maltodextrin
  • barley malt
  • beet sugar

When a person eats, their digestive system breaks down the carbohydrates from the food into glucose, which is a simple sugar. The body then absorbs this glucose into the bloodstream.

Glucose is the body’s primary energy source. A hormone called insulin tells the body’s cells to absorb glucose from the blood.

People with diabetes either do not produce enough insulin or their cells do not respond to the hormone appropriately. This causes blood glucose levels to become too high.

Simple sugars tend to raise blood glucose levels faster and higher than complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat and oatmeal.

Sugar substitutes

Sugar substitutes are low or no-calorie alternatives to sugar that usually have less impact on a person’s blood glucose levels.

Manufacturers commonly add them to many foods, especially products they describe as “low sugar,” “reduced sugar,” “diet,” or “low calorie.” However, other ingredients in these products may still contain calories or carbohydrates.

Before purchasing one of these reduced-sugar products, it is important to check the label for nutrition details.

Sugar substitutes may also cause someone to eat more food later on. They can also possibly alter a person’s sense of taste so that they find naturally sweet foods less appetizing.

Common types of sugar substitutes include:

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners, also known as nonnutritive sweeteners, are synthetic sugar substitutes that typically contain no or very few calories.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved six artificial sweeteners:

  • aspartame
  • acesulfame potassium or acesulfame k
  • saccharin
  • sucralose
  • neotame
  • advantame

People can also buy many of these artificial sweeteners to use as substitutes for table sugar or in cooking and baking.

source: medicalnewstoday.com



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