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As a diabetic, are you doomed to a diet of broccoli and broiled fish? Is there no way to enjoy food without your sugar skyrocketing?

One goal of diabetes treatment is to maintain blood sugars within reasonable limits. But patients and doctors alike forget that it’s not just about the numbers. The aim is to live a longer and more satisfying life.

As a diabetic you need a healthy diet, but like everyone else, you want to enjoy your meals. Can you eat a gallon of ice cream and maintain healthy blood sugar levels? Probably not. But then a non-diabetic has consequences to consider as well: weight gain, high blood sugar, and elevated cholesterol.

In recent years many foods have been developed for people aiming to decrease their sugar intake – both diabetics and non-diabetics.

Here are 5 diabetic foods to enjoy that won’t sent your sugar through the roof.

1. No sugar added ice cream. Alcohol sugars have been around for decades, previously used primarily in sugar-free chewing gum. Sorbitol, for example, does not cause tooth decay like regular sugar. In recent years, the use of these alcohol sugars has been expanded to other foods as well, because they don’t spike blood glucose like table sugar does. Half a cup of no sugar added ice cream is only about 100 calories, little more than a piece of wheat bread. Skip the mashed potatoes or dinner roll and enjoy some berries with a scoop of no sugar added ice cream. Keep in mind that overdoing it may exceed your daily calorie requirement and may cause diarrhea as well.

2. No sugar added candy. The big name candy manufacturers (Whitman’s, Russell Stover, London’s, Werther’s, and others) have jumped on the diabetic candy band wagon. Also sweetened with alcohol sugars, these tasty treats have about the same number of calories as regular candy, but don’t elevate the blood glucose level as quickly. If you have a chocolate craving you can’t deny, skip the baked beans and have a piece or two after dinner.

3. No sugar added pie. Both restaurants and frozen-food manufacturers have started catering to diabetics, offering desserts sweetened with alcohol sugars. A standard restaurant serving of pie (1/6th pie) contains about 500 calories, whether sweetened with regular sugar or alcohol sugar. The difference is the alcohol sugar won’t spike your blood glucose so quickly. But 500 calories is more than most diabetics should have for dessert. Cut your calories in half by either eating the filling only (no one ever said you have to eat the crust) or eat only half a regular size piece – if you skip the baked potato you’ll come out even.

4. Sugar-free gelatin. Everyone has room for Jello – or so the saying goes. Sugar-free gelatin, even in large servings, adds very few calories to the diet, yet feels like a real dessert. Topped with a dab of whipped cream, a large bowlful has about the same calories as a slice of bread. Skip the bread or the corn and enjoy a light but satisfying dessert.

5. Sugar-free yogurt. A cup of regular sweetened yogurt runs about 250 calories, whereas sugar-free yogurt has 80 to 120 calories per serving. Although it can be enjoyed alone, why not dress it up with a little granola or a few slices of ripe, fresh peaches? Many varieties of yogurt and frozen yogurt are sweetened with artificial sweeteners or alcohol sugars, or a combination of the two. Whether enjoyed as breakfast or dessert, sugar-free yogurt can satisfy a sweet tooth and provide a serving of calcium and a little protein as well.

If your doctor doesn’t enjoy sweets, he may not think to inform you about the many dessert choices you can still enjoy. But having a sweet tooth myself, and knowing how many others share this trait, I think it’s important to educate the diabetic population regarding foods they can partake without running the risk of hyperglycermia. Of course, portion size remains important, and it’s ill-advised to spend all you daily calories on sweets. But everyone needs a treat now and then, and a few hundred calories of sugar-free dessert, when substituted for another carbohydrate, will do little harm to your blood sugars and much good for your spirit.

Copyright 2010 Cynthia J. Koelker, M.D.

5 Diabetic Foods to Enjoy

5 Diabetic Foods to Enjoy