You might think a diabetes diagnosis means you’ll have to skip dessert forever. “Not so,” says Lara Rondinelli-Hamilton, a certified diabetes educator at DuPage Medical Center in Chicago. “With a little planning, you can satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping your blood sugar under control.”
But just how do you do that? There are several ways.
Two out of three people with diabetes also have high blood pressure. Keeping your diet in check -- counting carbs, limiting sugar, eating less salt -- is key. You can still eat well and manage your conditions with these easy tips.
“Everyone focuses on the sugar, but what’s really important is the total carbohydrates,” says Rondinelli-Hamilton, author of the American Diabetes Association cookbook Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking.
“If you’d like to have a small piece of pie for dessert, skip the starchy vegetable during dinner,” she says.
But she’s quick to point out that this isn’t something you should do on a regular basis.
“Desserts and sweets don’t have the nutritional value that other foods do, so it’s best to save them for special occasions,” she says.
Along with limiting how often you have dessert, you’ll also need to limit how much you eat -- and that can be a challenge.
“Sugar sets off fireworks in your brain, making you crave more,” says Jessica Bennett, RD, a dietitian at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
Fighting the urge to overdo it takes a lot of effort. But there are ways to make it a little easier.
“Set yourself up for success by buying desserts that are packaged as a single serving, like a sugar-free fudge pop or a small square of dark chocolate,” Rondinelli-Hamilton says.
And be realistic.
“If you can’t have cake in the house without eating the whole thing, don’t buy a cake,” she says.
When you go out, check the menu for miniature desserts. Many restaurants now offer treats served in small dishes or shot glasses.
“If that’s not an option, order one dessert for the table so that everyone gets a few bites,” Rondinelli-Hamilton says.
Do It Yourself
Unless nutritional information is listed on the menu, you can never be sure what you’ll get when you order dessert from a restaurant. When you make it yourself, you know exactly what goes into it -- and what’s left out.
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