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    The Basics of a Healthy Diabetes Diet

    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 now say small amounts of the sweet stuff are fine, as long as they're part of an overall healthy meal plan. Table sugar doesn’t raise your blood sugar any more than starches.

    Remember, though, that sugar is a carb. So when you eat sweet foods like cookies, cake, or candy, don’t eat another carb or starch (for example, potatoes) that you would’ve eaten that day.

    In other words, substitute, don't add. Ultimately, the total grams 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 to account for the added carbs so you can keep your blood sugar under 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 each serving.

    Other Sweeteners

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

    Certain sweeteners called sugar alcohols have some calories and can slightly raise your glucose levels. If you eat too much of them, you can get gas and diarrhea. Examples include:

    • Xylitol
    • Mannitol
    • Sorbitol

    You can also use stevia to make things sweet. It's a natural product with no calories.

    What About Alcohol?

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

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on December 14, 2019
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