We all look forward to the holidays when even the most health-conscious person makes the exception to binge on a delicious thanksgiving pie, a mouth-watering birthday cake or sugar-filled Halloween sweets.
Well, except for the 380 million diabetics all over the world.
Even a simple dessert is a tricky issue for a diabetic person, but you’ll have little to worry about once you figure out the most appropriate diabetic desserts.
Understand Diabetes to Know What to Eat
Diabetes is a manageable – and even reversible – disease that causes your blood sugar level to rise too high.
In a normal situation, the food you eat is turned into sugar/ glucose. When the glucose gets into your body cells, through your blood, you get energy. Insulin controls the glucose concentration in your blood.
For a diabetic, body cells don’t get the glucose, which accumulates in the bloodstream.
There are 2 types of diabetes:
- Type 1 – Caused when your body attacks the pancreas and damages it, making it incapable of producing insulin.
- Type 2 – Here, your pancreas produces some insulin, but it’s not enough or your cells aren’t sensitive to it. People with this type are mostly susceptible to heart disease and stroke.
Research on Diabetic-Friendly Foods
You have a better chance of eating the right diabetic desserts by following research-backed guidelines on suitable foods.
A 2013 study by the Diabetes Center of the General Hospital of Nikaea provided diabetics with two types of desserts:
- D-dessert containing sucralose and dextrins
- C-dessert without any modification
When the type 2 diabetic patients were given three D-desserts (strawberry jelly, pastry cream and cake), their insulin and blood glucose concentration increased at a very slow rate. But the C-dessert increased their glucose at a fast rate.
Even when the patients were fed a D-dessert of milk, millefeuille and chocolate, their blood glucose level didn’t increase. However, their glucose and insulin levels went up with a C-dessert.
The lesson learned from this study?
Simply using sugar substitutes and adding soluble fiber will help you enjoy a delicious dessert without worrying about a spike in blood glucose levels.
Indeed, this is a concept supported by Amy Campbell, a nutritionist at Joslin Diabetes Center (a non-profit affiliated with Harvard Medical School) and co-author of 16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet:
“… with proper education and within the context of healthy eating, a person with diabetes can eat anything a person without diabetes eats.”
A key thing to remember is most foods contain carbohydrates which elevate blood glucose faster compared to other foods. So, your daily carbohydrate intake is an important consideration. For instance, someone weighing 180 pounds can work with a dietician, who may suggest taking 60 grams of carbohydrates spread throughout the day.
However, diet should be complemented by a healthy lifestyle.
Other factors like age (people over 40 and overweight frequently get diabetes), physical activity (exercise reduces blood glucose levels), medical issues and high bloods fats influence the effectiveness of your diet in managing diabetes.
Diabetic Desserts Recommended by Specialists
Diabetics can finally enjoy delicious desserts courtesy of the Diabetes Specialist Dietitians who have approved several suitable recipes:
Baked egg custard
This mouth-watering delicacy serves 2.
- 450ml (3/4 pint) skimmed milk
- a few drops vanilla essence
- 40g (11/2oz) caster sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- a little grated nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.
- Heat the milk, sugar and vanilla essence in a pan to near boiling. Pour this mixture over the beaten egg, continuously stirring.
- Then strain the mixture through a sieve into a 600ml (1 pint) ovenproof dish.
- Sprinkle over a little nutmeg, then bake for 50–60 minutes until set.
- Serve with stewed or tinned fruit.
And here’s a recipe from the diabetes Weightloss Diet book by Anthony Worrall Thompson & Azmina Govindji…
Little pots but lots of flavor! Serves 4.
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee
- 1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar
- 1 large banana, mashed
- 250g fat-free fromage frais
- 10g dark chocolate (72% cocoa solids), grated
- 2 teaspoons flaked almonds, toasted
- Mix the coffee and sugar with 1 tablespoon boiling water to dissolve.
- Allow to cool then stir in the mashed banana and fold in the fromage Frais keeping a slight ripple effect.
- Transfer to four small glasses and chill until required.
- Top with chocolate and almonds before serving.
With each serving, you get: 100 kcals; 2g fat; 0.7g saturated fat; 16g carbohydrate; 0.02g sodium.
But this list can’t be complete without one for the holiday season…
Makes a 2 x 600ml (1 pint) pudding or 8 mini puddings.
- 100g/3½ oz vegetarian suet
- 50g/1¾ oz self-raising flour
- 100g/3½ oz fresh white breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
- 200g/7oz dark soft brown sugar
- 450g/1lb mixed dried fruits e.g. raisins, sultanas, currants
- 100g/3½ oz ready-to-eat dried apricots
- 50g/1¾ oz blanched almonds, chopped
- 1 medium eating apples, peeled cored and grated
- grated rind and juice 1 orange
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 6 tablespoons stout
- Mix the flour, suet, spice, sugar and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Stir through the mixed fruit, apricots, almonds and the apple.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the orange, brandy, stout and egg. Stir into the other ingredients, mixing well.
- Spoon into (lightly greased) 2 x 600ml (1pint) pudding bowls or 8 small 175g moulds. Cover with greaseproof, secure with string and leave overnight.
- Place the puddings in a large saucepan and add enough boiling water to come one third up the side of the puddings. Cover and steam the large puddings for 5-6 hours and the little puddings for 3 hours, ensuring the pan does not boil dry.
- Cool and store until required.
- To heat before serving, steam the large puddings for 2 hours or the small puddings for ½ hour, then serve. Enjoy!
Although you should focus on healthy foods, don’t feel guilty about eating sweets once in a while or worrying that it will significantly interfere with your blood sugar control. All you have to do is substitute small portions of sweets for other carbohydrates and you’ll be fine.