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7 strategies to enjoy desserts while managing your diabetes
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7 strategies to enjoy desserts while managing your diabetes

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TIP: Adding fruit for sweetness and eating smaller portions of treats are two ways to lower your sugar intake.

If you have diabetes, managing blood sugar levels is critical, but careful planning and some creative swapping can allow you to enjoy the sweetest of treats — in proper portions, of course.

Diabetes or not, health experts recommend reining in added sugars (not the natural type found in milk and fruit), because they contribute excess calories without providing nutrients, which can lead to unwanted weight gain, poor heart health, and elevated blood sugar levels.

These strategies will help include desserts in your diabetes management plan.

1. Count those carbs

“Total carbohydrate is the focus for people with diabetes, not just grams of sugar,” says Toby Smithson, author of “Diabetes Meal Planning” and “Nutrition for Dummies” and a person with diabetes.

Sugar on a food label is only part of the total carbohydrate, and it’s important to count all of the carbohydrate in a food.

Though it’s highly individualized, 45-60 grams of total carbohydrate per meal is fairly common.

2. Key in on portion

Read the serving size and the total amount of carbohydrate per serving on food labels. If your favorite treat is especially high in carbohydrates, have a smaller portion than that listed on the food label.

3. Try sugar substitutes

Sugar substitutes (or non-nutritive sweeteners), such as aspartame, sucralose or stevia, are considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

The American Diabetes Association reports that using them is acceptable to reduce your overall calorie and carbohydrate intake.

4. Avoid ‘low-sugar’ desserts

Many special “diabetes” treats can be high in calories, refined grains and saturated fats — no better than regular desserts.

5. Make it fit

Swap other carb-containing foods from your meal, like milk, yogurt, bread, rice, cereal and fruit, for dessert.

6. Keep it real

Swapping out healthy carbs, such as whole grains and fruit, too often puts you at risk for missing out on critical nutrients found in those foods.

7. Don’t just add it

While it may be tempting to simply add a dessert now and then to your usual meal plan, the result is usually elevated blood sugar levels.

RELATED: Craving carbohydrates? 5 reasons people turn to rich, sugary foods in winter

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