While diabetic desserts may seem like a paradoxical term to you, take note that they may serve as a strong motivation for you to stick to healthy eating. If your diet is too unrealistic and restrictive, you may get frustrated and go back to binge eating and other unhealthy habits. A healthy diabetic diet, including diabetic desserts, is all about balance and moderation. The general rule of thumb is to cut back on carbs and resort to natural sweeteners such as dates, stevia, yacon syrup, and erythritol. There is a myriad of ways to whip up diabetic desserts that are healthy but still taste decadent, or even sinful, so to speak.
What Is Diabetes?
Glucose fuels your body, but before your cells can use it you need to produce sufficient amounts of insulin, a type of hormone produced in the pancreas. When you have diabetes, your body does not produce enough insulin, or it does not respond properly to this critical hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in your blood. Patients with high blood glucose or sugar often experience these symptoms:
Type 1 Diabetes
There are two basic types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Patients with type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin, while those with type 2 diabetes don’t respond to insulin and/or don’t produce enough of this hormone. Both types lead to chronically high blood sugar level, which is tied to a wide range of health issues and complications.
About 10 percent of people with diabetes have type 1. They need to take insulin injections for the rest of their life, carry out regular blood tests, and follow a special diet to lead a normal life. Studies have shown that type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented because it is caused by on one's genetic predisposition, and while Type 1 diabetes can manifest at any age, it mostly appears in children and adolescents.
Type 2 Diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes, however, have usually developed the condition as adults due to poor lifestyle choices. Risk factors include low rates of physical activity, slightly elevated blood sugar levels, thick belly fat, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and a family history of the condition. Because Type 2 diabetes is closely tied to poor lifestyle choices, it is often possible to lower your risk of developing this condition through eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight.
If lifestyle changes are not enough, people with Type 2 diabetes may have to take medications that will help their body respond better to insulin. With a healthy diet and regular exercise, you can control this condition or even reverse it.
Five Best Diabetic Desserts
Here are five suggestions for diabetic desserts that taste decadent without causing your blood sugar to spike up. And because the recipes are low in glycemic index, they are also ideal for anyone who wants to follow a healthier diet.
Fresh Fruit Dipped in Yogurt
The recipe contains about 19 grams of carbohydrates and 90 calories. You'll need these ingredients:
Combine yogurt and milk to make a dip for your fresh fruits, which you can serve in a bowl or skewers for a fancier presentation.
Sugar-Free Fig Mousse
You'll need these ingredients:
Cook the dried figs along with their liquid and china grass until tender, which would take about 30 minutes. Adjust water as it cooks, making sure there is enough liquid to cover the figs. Take the pan off the heat before you mix in the cinnamon. When everything is cool enough to handle, add the milk powder before you place them in a blender. Transfer the puree into a serving dish. Serve chilled.
Light Chocolate Cinnamon Pudding
You'll need these ingredients:
In a medium saucepan, whisk together cocoa powder, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Then add all the milk before whisking again as you bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Takes about a minute to thicken. Add chocolate and whisk it until it melts completely. Put the mixture in six 4-ounce cups and press plastic wrap onto the surface of pudding to prevent a "skin” from forming. Refrigerate overnight or at least an hour before serving. Garnish with chocolate shavings and cinnamon sticks for a fancier presentation.
Light Ice Cream Sandwich
You'll need these ingredients:
Fill the graham crackers with topping, wrap them in plastic, and pop them in the freezer.
Whole-Grain Strawberry Cherry Crisp
You'll need these ingredients for the crumble:
You'll need these ingredients for the filling:
To make a crumble, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl until you form clumps. For the filling, combine all the ingredients in another bowl and transfer them to a 9-inch pie dish. Top the mixture evenly with a crumble. Bake until topping turns golden, about 35-40 minutes. Set aside to cool before serving.
Other Dietary Tips for Diabetics with a Sweet Tooth
When you have diabetes, you need to limit your carbohydrate intake to manage your blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates includes sugars, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Processed sugars such as white granulated sugar, dextrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, and glucose can raise your blood insulin levels. Unfortunately, they're often used in ice cream, puddings, cakes, cookies, pies, and other traditional desserts.
However, there are several natural sweeteners that can serve as a substitute for refined sugar. Not only they are sweet, these healthier alternatives are also low in fructose and calories, which also makes them ideal for anyone who want to lose weight without feeling deprived and frustrated. Read on to learn a little about three natural sweeteners you can use when whipping up your mouth-watering diabetic desserts.
One of the most popular low-calorie sweeteners in the market today, Stevia is extracted from the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudiana, which people from South American have long grown for its sweetness and medicinal uses. The sweet compounds found in stevia leaves are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, gram for gram, despite having no calorie. However, a more exciting thing about this natural sweetener is its ability to lower blood sugar levels of people with diabetes. Some studies involving rats have also suggested that it may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce build-up of plaque in the arteries.
Studies have shown that stevia can reduce blood pressure by 6-14 percent in people with hypertension. (Note: It has no effect if your blood pressure is normal to begin with.)
Yacon syrup is derived from the yacon plant, another native flora in South America. Aside from being low in glycemic index, this natural sweetener may help relieve constipation thanks to its high amount of soluble fibers, which also promotes a healthy digestive tract (the good bacteria in the intestine feeds on them). Meanwhile, some studies have suggested that yacon syrup may help you lose weight because it contains large amounts of soluble fibers called fructooligosaccharides.
This sugar alcohol has a sweetness very similar to table sugar and contains about 2.5 calories per gram. Interestingly, despite its saccharine taste, studies have shown that it reduces the risk of cavities and dental decay. While Xylitol does not cause your insulin levels to shoot up, in large doses it can cause digestive issues, as with other sugar alcohols. It's also highly toxic to dogs, so keep it out of reach if you have pets at home.
Hint: Honey, molasses, and coconut sugar are used often by health-conscious people as an alternative to sugar, but for someone with diabetes, these so-called healthier substitutes are best avoided because they can still cause your insulin levels to spike.
Thanks to natural sweeteners that have no or little effect on your insulin levels, there is no reason for diabetic desserts to taste bland. To further manage your blood sugar levels, choose fruits in their most natural form (frozen fruits are okay too) when planning your diabetic desserts. While diabetic desserts have no or little sugar, it doesn’t mean they are calorie-free. Remember that you should still eat them in moderation.