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Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years are fast approaching, the Holidays are here. Perhaps you too have cherished holiday memories growing up.  My most cherished memories of the holidays are the delectable smells of cookies and cakes baking, all the fruit, nuts and candy anyone can eat, and most of all, my Grandmother’s homemade Egg Nog.  Yes, guilty as charged- All Sweets/Desserts!

One of the most perplexing issues facing those with diabetes and perhaps weight challenges, is should I or should I not partake of desserts.  What should I do, if I do, I’m going to feel guilty, and if I don’t I will be the only one after dinner refusing dessert.  O.K. STOP, Back-up, rewind those thoughts let’s talk about it with an open mind and keep hope alive.

The most current nutritional guidelines from the American Diabetes Association regarding sweets and desserts states,” if eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes.  They are no more “off limits” to people with diabetes than they are to people without diabetes”.  Remember all things in moderation.

The key is to have small portions and save them for special occasions, which is to say an average piece of cake or slice of pie, not half of the pie or cake (just making a point) is allowed. For example, Ice Cream is my favorite and I will have at least a half cup once every two weeks, knowing, due to my elevated cholesterol (genes handed down from my father, of which I am wearing well), I cannot afford to consume ice cream every day nor eat the entire pint in fear of aggravating my cholesterol.    However, if you too enjoy ice cream but cannot stop with a cup or a half of a cup and end up consuming the entire pint or quart, my advice is to avoid ice cream all together, rather you are a diabetic or not, it’s not recommended.  All things should be consumed in moderation, note, it is also not wise to consume five cups of broccoli at one time, as it is not good to consume large portions of sweets at one time as well.

The difference between desserts and other carbohydrates like oatmeal, is the nutrient content.   Desserts are known as empty calories, limited in their nutrients content and are referred to as simple carbohydrates  consisting primarily of fats, sugars and calories. Desserts are (high) on the glycemic index (GI) which is to say will cause a quicker rise of blood glucose compared to oatmeal (low) on the GI.

For example, my half cup of ice cream will give me the same 15 grams of carbohydrates (CHO) as a half cup of oatmeal, both are carbohydrates however the only difference is the glucose (CHO) in the ice cream will reach my blood stream quicker than the oatmeal, same amount of glucose (CHO) entering my system however one will get there quicker than the other.  Remember 15 grams is 15 grams rather it enters first or last into the system.

So, with that, for the holidays I will say enjoy your dessert (small portions), work it into your meal plan, meaning, if you usually have 4 starches (CHO) per meal, leave one starch off your plate to save for the dessert.  Take your time and enjoy your dessert, with my ice cream, I savor and pay attention to every spoonful, half a cup is not much, but it is a whole lot better than none.

You no longer must be the only one at the table without dessert, enjoy, savor, indulge your “portion” How Sweet It Is!