Say you are diabetic but you like sweets. Are you condemned to a life of deprivation, watching others enjoy, but never participating in yourself? The surprising answer is no, at least for many type II diabetics.
The reality is that most diabetics eat sugar and then feel guilty about it. Although as a physician I encourage my patients to avoid sweets and refined carbohydrates, I am aware that many do not. Complete abstinence is difficult, especially for premenopausal women, who often crave carbohydrates on a cyclical basis.
Of course you hope to control your blood sugar, but everyone wants a piece of birthday cake once in a while. What should a person do?
Here are 5 tips for eating sugar wisely.
1. Enjoy a little sugar instead of a different carbohydrate. Do you feel guilty about eating sugar but not mashed potatoes? They both raise your blood sugar just as fast and by the same amount. If you’re dying for dessert, skip the muffins, rice, potatoes, lemonade, corn. After your healthy meal of lean meat and high-fiber vegetables, enjoy a 300-calorie dessert. If you keep your total calorie intake within a reasonable limit (1,500 to 2,000 calories for most people), eating sugar will affect your sugar a little differently than other carbohydrates.
2. Enjoy an alcoholic sugar. Although foods sweetened with alcoholic sugars are not low in calories, they raise blood sugar less quickly than foods sweetened with regular sugar or high fructose corn syrup. They also cause less tooth decay and less desire to bounce back for more sugar. Most foods labeled “no added sugar” contain alcoholic sugars. Many varieties of ice cream with no added sugar and reduced fat are available. However, be careful not to eat too much, as this can cause diarrhea and raise your blood sugar from excess calories.
3. Enjoy a mixture of sugar and an artificial sweetener. Much of the sugar we consume is not even tasted. There is a threshold to appreciate sweetness; For many people, a little bit can go a long way. For example, some people who claim they cannot tolerate a diet soda find that mixing just a little bit of regular soda with a diet soda makes the taste acceptable. Likewise, if you enjoy your coffee sweetened, try 1 teaspoon of sugar instead of 3 and substitute 2 teaspoons for an artificial sweetener; you may not be able to tell the difference.
Four. Enjoy a little sugar with a meal instead of on its own. One problem with eating sweets is that people often consume them alone, causing a sharp spike in blood sugar levels. If eaten with a healthy meal of low-calorie, high-fiber, lean protein and vegetables, the sugar will mix with the rest of the foods, slowing absorption and preventing the immediate spike in blood glucose.
5. Enjoy some sugar us instead of on dessert. A lot of sugar inside a dessert is wasted, that is, it is not even tasted. Unless you take small bites, savoring each one as it melts on your tongue, more than half of the sweetness is likely to slide down your throat without meeting your taste buds. A piece of cake is high in calories, not only from sugar, but also from flour (which is converted to glucose in the body as quickly as sugar) and from fat (mainly in frosting). Instead of drinking a 400 calorie batter, enjoy a bowl full of berries with a few tablespoons of sugar. You are unlikely to use up to a quarter cup of sugar, which contains less than 200 calories.
Copyright © 2010 Cynthia J. Koelker, MD