Diabetes Dessert Guidelines

Having diabetes doesn’t mean you can never have dessert again. With some simple swaps and diabetic-friendly dessert recipes, you can satisfy your sweet tooth without sending your blood sugar soaring.

Desserts may seem off-limits since many are high in sugar, but remember that for people with diabetes the total number of carbohydrates of a meal or snack matters more than the total sugar. That means dessert can still fit into your diet—with a few adjustments. Before you head to the kitchen, here are a few dessert guidelines and some of our favorite sweets that fit into a diabetic diet.


Swap carbohydrates

If you opt for something sweet after dinner, you might want to skip the starch at your meal to keep your total carbs in check. But remember that, while exchanging your sweet potato for cheesecake can keep your carb intake steady, you’ll lose the fiber, vitamins and other good-for-you nutrients that the sweet potato would provide. It’s not a good idea to indulge in dessert every night; instead, enjoy desserts in moderation.


Go easy on artificial sweeteners

While making desserts with artificial sweeteners can help you cut down on calories and carbs, it’s a better idea to try to reduce your total sweetener consumption (from both sugar and noncaloric sources). Because artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than sugar, they may enhance your craving for sweets.


Fruit & Diabetes

Fruit is one of the best desserts for people with diabetes (same goes for people who don’t have diabetes). Not only does it have good-for-you vitamins and minerals, it also contains fiber. Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar and can also lower cholesterol. When people with diabetes in one study consumed 50 grams of fiber per day, they had better blood sugar control than those who consumed just 24 grams per day. Half of this fiber was soluble, which is found in fruits, such as apples, oranges and pears. Aim for at least 25-30 grams of total fiber per day. These satisfying Pineapple Raspberry Parfaits pack 3 grams of fiber per serving. Make a fruit parfait with plain yogurt or choose a brand lower in sugar to cut down on carbohydrates even more.


Chocolate & Diabetes

Good news for people with diabetes: Eating chocolate may actually improve insulin response and blood sugar control because of the presence of flavanols, which are protective compounds found in cocoa. The problem is that most of the chocolate we eat contains only small amounts of flavanols and is loaded with added sugar.


Gelatin Desserts & Diabetes

While traditional gelatin desserts, such as Jell-O, contain about 20 grams of sugar in one serving, sugar-free Jell-O can be a good alternative for people with diabetes who want an after-dinner indulgence. The downside? With only one gram of protein and not much else, Jell-O has little nutritional value. Plus, sugar-free versions contain both artificial colors and sweeteners. Even though it’s low in carbohydrates, it’s still best to limit sugar-free gelatin consumption.