The Diabetic Dessert Dilemma by Caron Golden

When you have type 2 diabetes dessert can be a tricky thing. What everyone immediately fixates on is the sugar. But sugar is really a foil for carbs. The other component just as important in managing diabetes is fat. And what we love about dessert is usually that combo of sugar, carbs, and fat.

The Diabetic Dessert Dilemma So, where does dessert fall into a healthy diet?  Dessert is an indulgence, a part of the pleasure of a day. But the person with diabetes must plan for it, understanding that it’s all about moderation and portion control—and they’re not necessarily the same thing. 

Moderation includes portion control, but it also means being discriminating in what you eat. In the context of dessert, it could mean looking for sweets that are mostly made with real fruit or dark chocolate. It means seeking out desserts that are airy—made with lots of egg whites, like angel food cake and sponge cake—which cuts down on the density and carb count. Or simply desserts which call for less sugar than conventional recipes.

Portion control can be tricky. So, look for desserts that are by their nature single portion: chocolate mousse servings in a small ramekin, a single piece of dark chocolate, a small honey crisp apple. One trick, if you’re caught with a whole pie or cake, is to slice it into individual portions, wrap them, and put them in the freezer where they’re out of sight. Same with cookies or muffins.

There’s also the option of searching for sugar-free choices. Breyers, for example, makes a CarbSmart line of ice cream and frozen desserts. In the summer you can make frozen pudding pops with sugar-free instant chocolate Jell-O.

Just remember that sugar-free options aren’t necessarily lower in fat or carbs. And they usually include chemicals we may not want to consume. Yes, there are healthier sugar-free options; honey and maple syrup are favorites, and many people love stevia. 

Try experimenting with workarounds for some sweet treats. Love mochas? Instead of carb-laden chocolate syrup, try a couple of teaspoons of honey mixed with a teaspoon or so cocoa powder and some 1 percent milk in a large mug of coffee. 

Or try desserts that substitute conventional high fat or high sugar ingredients to create a flavorful but healthier result. For a rich chocolate mousse, you can substitute cooked butternut squash and low-fat cream cheese for heavy cream and egg yolks and enjoy the same richness. 

Sometimes you just want what you want and figure out how to make it work. Love making apple pie? How about sidelining the crust for an oats and nut filled crisp to reduce the amount of butter, sugar, and flour? With a small portion you can enjoy something healthier since you’re just topping cooked fruit, not encasing it. Keep the bag of crisp mixture in the freezer, pulling out a handful at a time to top a sliced apple or cup of berries in a ramekin, then baking. Is it a perfect solution? No, but that’s where portion control comes in. A little of something healthier and still delicious can keep you from diving into a caloric, carb-centric sweet nightmare.

Ultimately, it’s all about balance. Balancing carb portions, balancing fat and calories, balancing exercise with relaxation, balancing indulgence with healthy choices. Dessert isn’t something you have to cut out so much as balance with everything else you’re doing to stay healthy.

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