How to safely add sugar and sweets to your diabetic diet

There's room for any food on your plate as long as you keep calories under control. Sugary snacks and desserts can raise blood sugar faster than other foods because they contain practically no fibre — and fibre slows digestion of food and thereby tames its impact on blood sugar. Sugar also is pure calories, with virtually no nutrition. There's a deeper issue you should think about, though.Here are some tips on adding sugar and sweets to your diabetic diet.

How to safely add sugar and sweets to your diabetic diet

Sugar in prepared foods

Food manufacturers over the years have added sweeteners in ever larger amounts to our food. As a result, we learn to crave sweet foods to the point that we no longer enjoy foods with more natural sweetness levels. It's a cycle that is in large part behind our obesity and diabetes crises.

  • Over time, we've grown to expect lots of sweetness in our diet — and that keeps us coming back for more cookies, doughnuts, cakes and soda.
  • You can enjoy an occasional slice of chocolate cake, but it should be a treat in a diet that is otherwise less enhanced with processed sweeteners.
  • To help manage your diabetes, it is good to pull back from sweet foods in general and again learn to be satisfied by more natural flavours. Yes, chocolate and cake can still be on the menu. Just choose wisely!

What is xylitol?

You've probably heard a lot about different sugar replacements or sweeteners. One in particular is Xylitol, a sugar alcohol. It is part of a group of sweeteners most often added to products labelled "sugar-free," "no sugar added" or "dietetic." Sugar alcohols have fewer calories than sugar and make less of an impact on your blood sugar than other carbohydrates. Often, they don't have the aftertaste that non-nutritive sweeteners do. But they do have a downside (you were afraid of that, weren't you?). Sugar alcohols can upset your stomach and may have a laxative effect in some people. So go slow until you know how these sweeteners affect you.Examples of sugar alcohols include:

  • Erythritol
  • Glycerol
  • Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates
  • Isomalt
  • Lactitol
  • Maltitol
  • Mannitol
  • Sorbitol

What is Truvia?

Truvia is the brand name for a granulated product made from the stevia plant.

  • Stevia has a long history as a safe, all-natural sweetener — natives of Paraguay and other South American countries where the plant grows use it to sweeten tea and other foods and drinks.
  • Truvia isn't pure stevia; it also contains erythritol, a no-calorie sugar alcohol.

Studies examining stevia's effects on lowering blood sugar have been mixed, so using it for that purpose doesn't make much sense. If you like its licorice-like flavour and find the zero calorie count appealing, then stevia and stevia products like Truvia are fine for you to use.

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