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Can You Have Sugar?

You might have heard that people with diabetes shouldn't have any table sugar. While some doctors say that, others take a more forgiving view.

Most experts now say that small amounts of the sweet stuff are fine, as long as they're part of an overall healthy meal plan. Table sugar does not raise your blood sugar any more than starches, which are found in many foods.

Remember that sugar is a carb. So when you eat a sweet food like cookies, cake, or candy, swap it for another carb or starch (for example, potatoes) that you would have eaten that day. In other words substitute, don't add. Ultimately, the total grams of carbohydrates matter more than the source of the sugar.

Account for any food swaps in your carbohydrate budget for the day. Adjust your medications if you add sugars to your meals.

If you take insulin, tweak your dose for the added carbs so you can keep up your blood sugar control as much as possible. Check your glucose after eating sugary foods.

Read food labels so you know how much sugar or carbs are in the things you eat and drink. Also, check how many calories and how much fat are in a serving.

Other Sweeteners

You can add artificial sweeteners to your food and drinks. Many have carbs, though, so check the label carefully. If necessary, you can adjust the other foods in your meal or medication to keep your blood sugar under control.

Certain sweeteners known as "sugar alcohols," such as xylitol, mannitol, and sorbitol, have some calories and slightly raise glucose levels. If you eat too much of these you can get gas and diarrhea.

Stevia is another option to make things sweet. It's a natural product that has no calories.

What About Alcohol?

It's a good idea to ask your doctor if it's OK for you to drink booze. If he says yes, only do it occasionally, and only when your blood sugar level is well-controlled. Most wine and mixed drinks have sugar, and alcohol also has a lot of calories.

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