Being diagnosed with diabetes may feel like a prison sentence if you have a strong sweet tooth. With a few modifications, however, it’s more than possible to have your cake and eat it, too. Sugar substitutes, low-calorie ingredients, smaller servings and lower-glycemic sweeteners are all helpful when designing a meal plan that includes appropriate desserts.
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Bake It Yourself
Unless nutritional information is listed on the menu, you never quite know what you’re getting when you order dessert from a restaurant. When you prepare it yourself, however, you know exactly what goes into it and can even calculate the nutrition facts per serving. Instead of following recipes to the letter, make substitutions -- such as applesauce for some oil or skim milk for whole milk -- to reduce calories per serving without dramatically altering the taste of the final product.
Use Sugar Substitutes
Artificial sweeteners have major advantages in diabetic desserts. Most are hundreds of times sweeter than traditional table sugar, for example, so you can get by with much smaller amounts of them. Most also have no effect on your blood sugar levels, so it’s possible to sub them in for sugar and reduce carb and calorie counts. Joslin Diabetes Center Nutrition Diabetes Educator Gillian Arathuzik recommends using aspartame or sucralose as sugar substitutes, and “Diabetic Pastry Chef” caterer Stacey Harris suggests a blend of sucralose and traditional sugar in recipes.
Keep Servings Small
Desserts are carb-rich even in very small amounts and even when you use sugar substitutes, so plan to enjoy just a few bites rather than a few big helpings. To avoid temptation, portion out desserts right away, share them with a friend and store extras out of sight. It can help to think about portion sizes visually. According to "Diabetic Living," a cookie serving should be two cookies about the size of packaged sandwich cookies, and an ice cream serving should be about the size of half a baseball.
Make a Swap
If you’re diabetic, you’re probably familiar with the system of food exchanges. When you want to have a slice of cake or another dessert, use that system to your advantage to find a combination of foods that fits your nutrition requirements. One small serving of cake, pie, cookies, ice cream, candy or other dessert is equivalent to a single serving of bread, pasta, other grains, beans and legumes, cereal or fruit. So when you want cake but would normally eat a full sandwich, eat a half sandwich instead to exchange one slice of bread for one small slice of cake.