Getting the Right Diabetes Treatment

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4 Healthy Tips for Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth with Diabetes

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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Having diabetes doesn’t mean the end of sweet treats. But if you have frequent cravings for food high in sugar and fat, giving in every time can wreak havoc on your blood glucose. Instead, follow these smart steps to satisfy your sweet tooth without harming your health.

1. Eat a Small Serving

Desserts pack more carbohydrates in each bite than most other foods. Going overboard can send your blood glucose soaring. If you plan ahead, however, you can substitute a small portion for other carbohydrate-containing foods, such as bread, tortillas, or cereal.  

If you tend to binge on sugar, don’t buy it for your home. Order dessert only when you eat out, and split it with a friend. Choose dark chocolate when you can—the higher the percentage of cocoa, the less sugar in the bar. Dark chocolate also provides healthy antioxidants that can control blood pressure and protect your heart.

2. Substitute Naturally Sweet Foods

Next time you have a hankering for sugar, reach into the fruit basket instead of the cookie jar. Beyond its sweet flavor, fruit provides a cocktail of nutrients without much fat, sodium, or cholesterol.

Fruit does have carbohydrates, such as the simple sugar fructose. So, you’ll still need to fit nature’s bounty into your meal plan. Start by choosing whole fruit more often than juice. The skin and flesh contain fiber, which fills you up, reduces your risk for heart disease, and helps control your blood glucose.

Then, learn proper portion sizes. Each of the following contains 15 grams of carbohydrates:

  • One small apple or orange, or a very small banana

  • 1/2 grapefruit

  • 3/4-cup blueberries, blackberries, or pineapple

  • 1 cup raspberries or melon

  • 1 1/4 cup whole strawberries

A few simple steps can turn fruit into an even more satisfying dessert. For instance:

  • Freeze a banana, then blend it with a half-cup of plain nonfat yogurt to make soft-serve.

  • Layer berries with yogurt and whole-grain cereal. Top with a few dark-chocolate chips.

  • Grill watermelon, then drizzle with honey and lime.

3. Go Sugar-Free

When nothing but cake, candy, or soda will do, look for options using artificial or low-calorie sweeteners. Using these sweeteners—including aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose—food manufacturers produce diet drinks, light yogurt, frozen desserts, and baked goods, among other products. You can also buy packets or powders to stir into coffee or sprinkle on fruit.

Artificial sweeteners punch up your food with 100 times the sweetening power of sugar. You only need a small amount. Because they have fewer carbohydrates and calories than sugar, artificial sweeteners may be easier for you to fit into your meal plan. However, the foods that contain them often have a fair amount of calories and carbs. Read labels to ensure you’re staying with your daily limits.

4. Stop Emotional Eating

Not all cravings arise from physical hunger. Sometimes, you may eat to quell boredom, cope with stress, or deal with negative feelings, such as jealousy or fear.

Get a handle on emotional eating by tracking when you eat and how you feel. Identify situations and sentiments that cause cravings to arise. Then make a list of other activities that can fulfill your needs. For instance, taking a walk occupies your mind, and yoga stretches can ease tension. Craving snacks is a learned behavior—you can train your intellect to make smarter choices.

Every time you desire sweets, stop and ask yourself if you truly need food, or if one of the other activities would suffice. Sometimes a ritual like drinking a glass of water extinguishes the craving. Reach out to friends and family for help and support if you have trouble avoiding temptation.

Key Takeaways

  • If you plan ahead, you can substitute a small portion of dessert for other carb-containing foods, such as bread or cereal.

  • When you have a hankering for sugar, reach for naturally sweet fruit.

  • If nothing but cake or soda will do, look for options using artificial or low-calorie sweeteners.

  • Keep in mind that some cravings stem from boredom, stress, or negative feelings.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Sep 8
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