Do you love sweets? The good news is you can fit sweets in moderation into a healthy eating plan for diabetes. The bad news is that you may be getting hidden sugar in prepared and packaged food without even knowing — all the carbs, none of the pleasure. Let’s learn how to find that hidden sugar?
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Now, if you’ve followed me for any length of time here on YouTube or at DiabetesEveryDay.com or in my book Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies you will know that I enjoy sweets now and then….and I want you to enjoy them too. Just over the past few months, I’ve posted “Diabetes and Sugar”,“Can People With Diabetes Eat Chocolate”, “Does Melon Have Too Much Sugar”, and recipes for Chocolate Lava Cake and popsicles. My most popular video ever is 90 calories chocolate cupcakes.
Be Sure To Check Out – Can People With Diabetes Eat Fruit?
Can “All Foods Fit” With Diabetes?
Most dietitians subscribe to the idea that “all foods can fit” into a healthy diet, and I fit chocolate into my diet every single day. But where diabetes is involved it’s always about portion size and how many total carbohydrates we consume each day. There are way too many healthy carbohydrate foods we should be eating for us to eat sweets with total abandon. Sweets should be eaten “in moderation.”
Those carbohydrate grams that we spend on sugar and sweets therefore should be maximized, right. Since there’s no nutritional value to sugar except calories and we know we’re going to see an effect on our blood sugar levels, the only redeeming value to sweets is purely emotional….purely pleasure.
Carbohydrate Grams You “Spend” On Sugar
So, if you were looking to maximize your pleasure for the carbohydrate grams you “spend” on sugar would you choose eating one of those chocolate lava cakes I mentioned earlier at 21 grams of carbohydrate or would you choose sipping on ½ cup Homestyle Pasta Sauce at 16 grams carbohydrate? Or, maybe ketchup is more up your alley for a decadent dessert…..or baked beans with a little whipped cream? The point is that a sizable percentage of packaged or prepared foods….more than 70% of them… have hidden sugar….added sugar not natural to the food itself which simply adds calories and raises your blood sugar levels with no other benefit. And this is not so easy to figure out.
Take yogurt for example. Yogurt naturally includes milk sugar….lactose…and often includes fruit which brings naturally occurring sugar along. But Yoplait Original Strawberry “with real fruit” also includes 13 grams per serving of added sugar…plain old cane sugar… so the total carbohydrate per 6 ounces serving is 26 grams…the added sugar doubles the carbohydrate. That’s 13 grams of sugar from healthy foods and 13 grams of hidden sugar.
This is a big deal….my personal meal plan calls for about 8 “carbohydrate choices” per day…each carb choice is about 15 grams total carbohydrate, like a medium apple. I want my carbohydrates to be from healthy foods for a healthy life….sweet potato, lentils, peaches, oatmeal, peas, barley, blueberries, grits, watermelon, yogurt….and I want chocolate now and then. I do not want to spend one of my 8 carb choices today on 3 teaspoons of sugar hiding in my yogurt.
And apologies to Yoplait for singling this one product out, but this example is nothing unusual….this is common in prepared foods…..peanut butter, frozen dinners, condiments, salad dressings, nutrition bars, cereal….and not just the obvious cereals….Kellogg’s raisin bran has 9 grams of added sugar…..breads, sauces, soups, “fruit” juices. How do you know?
Manufacturers and Added Hidden Sugar
Fortunately, many products from large manufacturers are now required to include a specific amount of “added sugars” on their nutrition facts label….smaller manufacturers have until 2021 to comply. You can also look at the ingredients list, but manufacturers have some nifty tricks…if you see sugar, cane sugar, or some sort of syrup or nectar you’ll know, and that would include the infamous high fructose corn syrup. You may see “cane juice”, “honey”, “fruit juice” or “molasses” But other words ending in “ose” are also often listed….dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose, or maltose…all added sugar.
Dietary guidelines suggest less than 6% of your daily calories should come from added sugars. Dietitians love food math, but you probably don’t. So my practical advice to you is to look at the nutrition label under “total sugars” where you’ll find the statement “includes X grams added sugar”. If “added sugar” is more than a few grams look for a similar product that has less added sugar or find something different to eat.
If you have diabetes and you’re eating peanut butter with 5 grams of added sugar per serving….swap it out for peanut butter that has peanuts and salt as the only ingredients. Little changes every day can have huge benefits over the long term, and reducing the amount of added sugar….hidden sugar…. in your diet is one of the simplest and easiest lifestyle changes you can ever make.
Until next time, cheers to your health.
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