Diabetes is on the rise in the elderly population living along Chicago’s North Shore communities and the Gold Coast. Seniors with diabetes must constantly manage their blood sugar levels, and requires them to carefully plan their meal options. Ensuring blood sugar levels are within the appropriate range is crucial for the health of the senior. People with diabetes can enjoy sweet treats, but they have to find creative ways to do so in appropriate proportions.
Health experts recommend watching how much sugar people eat, not including the natural sugars found in fruit or milk. Unnatural sugars create an excess of calories without providing important nutrients, which can cause a lot of health issues. These issues include weight gain, elevated blood sugar levels and poor heart health. The American Heart Association suggests women limit the amount of added sugars consumed to no more than six teaspoons per day, while men should have no more than nine teaspoons per day.
Listed below are some strategies for eating dessert on a diabetes management plan.
- Count carbs – It is important to monitor carb intake, in addition to the amount of sugar being consumed. The amount of sugar listed on a food label is only a portion of the total number of carbs, so it is important to count all of the carbohydrates in food. Although each person’s plan varies, more than likely the suggested range of carbs in a meal is 45-60 grams.
- Portion control – Read the serving size and the total number of carbs per serving on the label. If foods are really high in carbohydrates, think about eating a smaller portion than what is listed on the label.
- Sugar substitutes – Sugar substitutes are considered to be safe by the Food and Drug Administration, and the American Diabetes Association states that using those products is an acceptable option to reduce carb and calorie intake.
- Look out for “low sugar” desserts – Some desserts that are advertised as “diabetes friendly” are actually not. These deserts can be high in calories and saturated fats, which are no better for a person than “normal” desserts.
- Make things fit – Think about the foods being eaten during a meal, and determine which carbohydrates can be swapped out to save the carbohydrates for dessert. Foods such as bread, cereal and rice are higher in carbs, so eliminating those food items in a meal will allow a senior to enjoy a dessert.
- Be Real – Swapping out healthy carbs, like whole grains and fruit puts a senior at risk for missing out on important nutrients that are found in whole foods.
- Don’t just do it – Having dessert after a meal is very tempting, but it typically results in elevated blood sugar levels.
Strategies for Cutting Sugar
- Reduce the amount of sugar by one-third in recipes.
- Replace some of or all of the sugar in recipes with a non-nutritive sweetener.
- Make sure the focus is on portion control, and make naturally sweet fruit the focus of desserts.
- Use other ingredients to enhance the flavor of desserts, like vanilla extract, orange zest, cinnamon, lemon zest, ginger or strong coffee (coffee enhances the chocolate flavor in cakes and brownies).
Before making any changes to a diet, please consult with a doctor to make sure it is safe to do so. For more information on diabetes and diabetes care, please visit http://www.thehomecarespot.com/chicago-north/chronic-care/diabetes-care/