Sticking with a controlled diet to manage your blood sugar is important; however, you may be tempted from time to time to "cheat" a little and wonder if it is safe. According to Kendra Blanchette, RD, CDE, of the Diabetes and Hormone Center of the Pacific, there is no such thing as a single diabetes diet. The right diet helps you manage your blood sugar levels based on sound nutrition principles.

All foods with calories raise blood sugar, especially those with carbohydrates (carbs), so the goal of a diabetes nutrition plan is to provide an appropriate mix of fats, carbs, and protein at each meal and at calorie levels that provide nutrients and create an even release of glucose into the blood stream.

So, Blanchette says, any food can fit into a diabetic diet if it's part of this overall plan. Spreading carb consumption throughout the day allows for the relatively even release of glucose. The amount of carbs in a meal is more important than the type of carb.

Healthy Snacks That Will Satisfy Your Cravings

That said, there are healthier options when it comes to splurging.

Low-calorie drinks. The American Diabetic Association (ADA) recommends unsweetened tea, coffee, low-sodium vegetable juice, and water flavored with lemon or lime as alternatives to plain water. Most diet sodas don't contain carbs so they don't raise your blood glucose. Avoid sugary drinks such as juice, soda, punch, sweet tea, or energy drinks.

Low- or no-carb snacks. The Joslin Diabetic Center recommends low- or no-carb snacks (fewer than 15 grams) to satisfy cravings and control blood glucose levels. Foods with protein and fiber are also more satisfying. Try natural peanut butter, low-fat cheese or cottage cheese, unsalted nuts, eggs, yogurt, or milk.

Wise alternatives. If you're craving fast food or something sweet, try sugar-free Jell-O, pudding, fudgsicles, hard candy, hot cocoa, fruit with cool whip, low-fat cookies or crackers, or a very small portion of your favorite treat.

The ADA's website offers healthy snack choices to replace common favorites. For example, swap one-half cup of ice cream topped with two tablespoons of chocolate syrup with one-half cup lemon thyme Greek frozen yogurt and a cup of strawberries. The ADA also suggests snacking on nutrient rich fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

If you take insulin, says Amber Taylor, MD, it's better to keep carbohydrate intake consistent. Dr. Taylor encourages you to talk to your physician and dietitian if you want more flexibility in your diet.

Amber Taylor, MD, reviewed this article.


Amber Taylor, MD, director of diabetes. Center for Endocrinology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD.

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