Some sweets and snacks are often bad carbs high in sugar, saturated fat and sodium, which can increase your bad cholesterol, blood pressure, harm your heart and lead to diabetes.
If you already have diabetes, avoid any products that are labeled refined, enriched, or fortified, and eat a diet high in complex-carbohydrates, low in fat, high in fiber and constantly consult the Glycemic Index for good foods to eat. When grains are refined, fiber and important natural nutrients have been lost. Eat only whole grain products if you can.
Having diabetes doesn't mean that you can't eat foods containing sugar, as long as the total amount of carbohydrates for that meal is taken into context for your day’s overall eating plan, but whatever you do, first consult your doctor to make sure that you can have sugar, because every diabetic is different.
People with diabetes can eat desserts, use sweeteners, and still keep their blood glucose (sugar) levels in their target range. It is about having balance and choosing your sugars wisely, but they must be part of your overall eating plan, which is approved by your doctor or nutritionist.
These options are available for sweetening your foods:
- Honey, molasses, brown rice syrup, agave syrup, and maple sugar
- Reduced-calorie sweeteners including erythritol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol
- Low-calorie sweeteners such as acesulfame potassium, aspartame, saccharin and sucralose
The side-effect of sugar consumption is weight gain and higher blood glucose levels. If you are overweight, the chances are that you got that way by consuming refined carbohydrates.
Avoid foods that promote diabetic: white sugar, sucrose, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup. The most important thing for any diabetic is to understand the types of carbohydrates and the Glycemic Index to figure out how to eat properly. Let’s review low-calorie sweeteners:
Don't throw away your low-calorie sweeteners, just because sugar is safer than you thought. Low-calorie sweeteners are "free foods." They make food taste sweet, have no calories, and do not raise blood glucose levels. They do not count as a carbohydrate, a fat, or any other exchange.
Low-calorie sweeteners can be added to your meal plan instead of being substituted, but I do not recommend heavy usage of any of these sweeteners, because of other health concerns not necessarily related to diabetes.
What melslife is about is presenting you with choices for you to create your own balance. Please consult your physician with any questions specifically pertaining to your health.
Here’s a list of low-calorie sweeteners:
- Saccharin (Sweet N Low, Sugar Twin)
Saccharin can be used in both hot and cold foods to make them sweeter. You may recall that some studies giving very large quantities of saccharin to rats raised concerns that saccharin could cause cancer, but many studies and years of use have shown saccharin to be safe in the quantities used by consumers.
- Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)
Aspartame is another low-calorie sweetener. Because high temperatures can decrease its sweetness, check NutraSweet.com for guidelines when using aspartame in recipes.
- Acesulfame potassium (Sweet One, Swiss Sweet, Sunett)
Another low-calorie sweetener on the market is acesulfame potassium, also called acesulfame-K. This sweetener is heat stable and can be used in baking and cooking.
- Sucralose (Splenda)
Sucralose is the newest low-calorie sweetener on the market. Sucralose is not affected by heat and retains its sweetness in hot beverages, baked goods and processed foods.
If you like to cook, sugar does more in hot foods - especially baked goods like cookies and cakes - than just add sweetness. Sugar affects the way the foods cook and the final texture. Substituting a low-calorie sweetener may affect the texture and taste of your creation. Many people use a combination of sugar and a low-calorie sweetener to reduce overall calories, while still producing acceptable results.
All of these low-calorie sweeteners may help people who are overweight or have diabetes to reduce calories and stick to a healthy meal plan. In addition, these sweeteners are useful for reducing calories and carbohydrates when used instead of sugar in coffee, tea, cereal and on fruit.
When you’re considering foods with low or reduced-calorie sweeteners, always check the Nutrition Facts on the label. By comparing the calories in the sugar-free version to the regular version, you’ll see whether you’re really getting fewer calories. You’ll also want to compare the fat content of the labels. Some people choose the regular version of a food and cut back on the serving size instead of buying the sugar-free version. Consider price as well. Sometimes sugar-free versions cost more.
Foods with low or reduced-calorie sweeteners can have fewer calories than foods made with sugar and other caloric sweeteners. That can help if you’re trying to lose weight or even prevent weight gain. However, some sugar-free foods or products that use low-calorie sweeteners actually have more calories than, and may have more fat than, the sugar-sweetened versions.
Everyone with diabetes seems to have different issues and concerns regarding their diet. If you have high blood pressure and are concerned about your heart, here are some low-fat sweets and snacks you can buy:
- Angel food cake topped with fruit puree or fresh fruit slices
- Fat-free or low-fat cookies like animal crackers, devil's food cookies, fig and other fruit bars, ginger snaps and vanilla or lemon wafers
- Frozen low-fat or non-fat yogurt, fruit ices, ice milk, sherbet and sorbet
- Puddings made with 1% or fat-free milk or Jell-O
- Whole grain pretzels
Whatever you do, keep in mind your Glycemic Index. Also, remember that while these treats may be low in fat, most are not low in calories. Choose these sweets and snacks only every now and then, especially if you are trying to control your weight to improve your blood cholesterol levels, as well as reducing your blood pressure.
Not all snack foods are high in saturated fat. Eating is about balance, and you need to find your balance. Try some of these low-fat ones and keep them on hand for snack attacks:
- Ready-to-eat whole-food cereals or granola bars without added sugar
- Frozen grapes or banana slices; or other fresh fruit
- Fruit leather or other dried fruit – try to buy organic
- Low-fat or fat-free crackers like melba toast, rice cakes, rye crisps and soda crackers
- No-oil baked tortilla chips
- Popcorn (air popped or "light") – avoid butter and try adding spices instead
- Raw vegetables with non-fat or low-fat dip