Learn how to make delicious and diabetes-friendly desserts to satisfy your sweet cravings without compromising your health. In this article, you'll discover the key nutritional considerations for creating these treats, such as using low-sugar ingredients, choosing the right carbohydrates, and balancing with protein and fats.
Diabetes-friendly desserts can be enjoyed in moderation with the right ingredient choices and portion control.
Focus on low-sugar yet naturally sweet ingredients like berries and choose fruits with lower glycemic index values.
Select complex carbohydrates from whole, unprocessed foods for balanced energy intake.
Enhance desserts' taste and nutrition by incorporating protein and healthy fats.
Be sure to consult your doctor and registered dietitian for guidance on your nutrition.
Can diabetes patients eat desserts?
Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by abnormal blood glucose levels. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. In diabetes patients, insulin is either absent or ineffective. Fortunately, diabetes is manageable with proper treatment and lifestyle changes.
Nutrition is a huge part of diabetes management.
Nutritional education can help patients to follow a healthy and balanced nutrition plan that minimizes spikes in blood glucose levels. It replaces restrictions with moderation as much as possible so that diabetes patients can eat more freely.
Some foods increase blood glucose levels rapidly. High carbohydrate, sugar, and calorie foods can increase blood sugar levels faster, and they cause higher spikes in blood sugar as well.
Desserts generally check all the boxes: high carbohydrates, sugar, and calories. That does not mean diabetes patients can not eat desserts. Better choices of ingredients and portion control allow diabetes patients to enjoy desserts from time to time.
Importance of ingredient choices when making diabetes desserts
Nutrition management for diabetes involves all things related to foods, including reading food labels when grocery shopping, meal planning, what to do eating out, carbohydrate counting, knowing macronutrients so you can prepare balanced meals, and so on.
Here are some main nutritional considerations you should consider when choosing diabetes-friendly desserts:
Low sugar yet sweet ingredients
Dessert should fundamentally be sweet. Usually, sweetness in desserts comes from added sugars, which should be monitored, especially in diabetes.
Added sugars include high fructose corn syrup, honey, agave nectar, and molasses commonly found in packaged snacks. Added sugars are not naturally found in foods but are put in foods during processing or at the table.
Some foods, such as milk and fruits, naturally contain sugar. Different fruits have different glycemic indexes.
Glycemic index is an index to determine how rapidly a particular food raises blood glucose. High glycemic index indicates that foods raise blood glucose levels fast.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) indicates that most fruits have a low glycemic index. It recommends consuming a small piece of whole fruit or ½ cup of fruit salad for dessert.
Dry fruits, such as dates and raisins, and some fresh fruits, such as melons and pineapple, have a higher glycemic index than most fruits such as apples, berries, peaches, and oranges.
Remember to read labels if you buy canned or frozen fruits. Choose the ones with no added sugars.
Choosing the right carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are an essential part of the diet; they are a major source of daily energy intake. In diabetes, the goal is not to avoid carbohydrates but to choose complex carbohydrates rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
The ADA categorize carbohydrates into three groups according to consumption preference:
- Whole, unprocessed, non-starchy vegetables. These vegetables have low starch and high fiber, so they minimally impact blood glucose levels. Some of the foods in this category are lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, and green beans.
- Whole, minimally processed carbohydrate foods. This category includes starchy carbohydrates such as fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, and starchy vegetables, including corn, green peas, and sweet potatoes.
- Refined, highly processed carbohydrate foods and those with added sugar. You should eat less of these foods, which include sugary drinks, refined grains, and sweets such as candy, cake, and cookies.
When preparing diabetes-friendly desserts, you can choose carbohydrates from the first two categories, which are high-fiber and nutrient-dense options.
Balance with protein and fat
Although natural sugar sources and carbohydrates are the main characteristics of diabetes-friendly desserts, balancing the desserts with protein and fat sources can make desserts more filling and nutritious.
Incorporating protein (such as milk products) and fat sources (such as nuts and seeds) enriches the taste and nutrient profile of your dessert.
4 diabetes-friendly desserts you should try
Now that you have learned what to consider while preparing or choosing diabetes-friendly desserts, here are some options:
1. Baked cinnamon apples
When apples are made into a dessert, cinnamon is almost a must. The natural sweetness of the apples combined with spice will create a delightful and low-sugar dessert.
- Slice one medium-sized apple into rings.
- Add ground cinnamon to the apples.
- Grease a baking dish with butter or coconut oil.
- Bake until the apples are caramelized, which takes approximately 20–25 minutes.
2. Greek yogurt berry parfait
Dessert making can't go wrong with berries. Choose your favorite berry, e.g., strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, or mix them.
- Add 1 cup of Greek yogurt to a bowl.
- Add 1 cup of berries and 0.25 cup of chopped nuts (optional)
- Mix until well combined.
- Refrigerate and serve chilled.
3. Cocoa banana smoothie
Smoothies are great, especially for hot summers. This recipe combines the sweetness of ripe bananas with chocolate's main ingredient, cocoa.
- Add two ripe bananas to a blender.
- Add 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk.
- Add 0.25 cup of plain Greek yogurt and 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder.
- Blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Avocado mousse
If you want a creamy and light dessert, try avocado mousse.
- Remove the peel and pit from 1 ripe avocado. Add the fruit to a blender.
- Add 0.25 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 0.25 cup of unsweetened almond or coconut milk, and a pinch of salt.
- Blend until smooth.
- Refrigerate until chilled and firm.
- Serve with fresh berries or sliced nuts on top (optional).
Remember, portion control is crucial for moderation. You can check the serving size of carbohydrates in your desserts and adjust your consumption based on nutritional values.
How much carbohydrates one can eat varies based on their unique needs and requirements. You should consult your doctor and registered dietitian for guidance on your nutrition.