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If you are a caregiver or family member who provides in-home care assistance for someone with diabetes, you may feel frustrated at times by the challenges involved in providing a varied menu that includes tasty as well as nutritious items. Desserts are particularly difficult when crafting a healthy diabetic meal plan, and you are probably tired of having to tell your loved one why he or she can't enjoy a nice big slice of Mississippi Mud Pie or other decadent dessert. Fortunately, however, having diabetes doesn't mean that it's necessary to forgo all sweets forever -- it just means eating smarter. Following are five strategies designed to help keep the sweet tooth of those with diabetes satisfied.
Cut the Carbs During the Main Meal
Enjoying an indulgent after-dinner dessert may mean cutting the carbs in the main meal to make room for the dessert. Cut carbs by including mostly lean protein in the meal such as chicken, fish, tofu, or beans instead of pasta, potato, or rice dishes. A good meal to precede a sweet dessert is a nice piece of white fish and a green salad. Making overall portions smaller during dinner with dessert in mind is also advised.
Eat Desserts Made With Sugar Substitutes
Several sugar substitutes are available on the market that have little-to-no effect on blood sugar levels. There is a natural sweetener that is extracted from the foliage of the stevia plant, which is native to Central and South America. Other artificial sweeteners include products made from saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose. When making baked desserts with sugar substitutes, it is important to read the labels carefully to determine levels of carbohydrates the products contain as well as calorie counts. Also, keep in mind that with baked goods, flour contributes to carbohydrate levels.
Save It For Special Occasions
There's no rule that says that desserts have to follow every meal. Saving them for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries makes the event that much more special, and one sweet indulgence on an occasional basis won't sabotage the average diabetic meal plan. Ideally, about 90 percent of the diabetic's diet should consist of healthy foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat dairy. According to New Jersey diabetes educator and New York University nutrition professor Patricia Davidson, this formula allows the average person with diabetes to enjoy two small splurges per week. However, this doesn't mean a fully fledged piece of chocolate cake complete with rich frosting should be on the menu twice per week -- keep it to small, simple bowls of ice cream or a few vanilla wafers, and save the serious stuff for special occasions.
The natural sugars in fruit help satisfy cravings for sweets as well as provide the added benefit of providing a nutritional boost that most dessert items don't have. Keep in mind, however, that fruit contains carbs and therefore must be counted as a part of the daily meal plan. Fresh fruits in season are excellent dessert choices, as are canned fruits without any added sugars. Select those that are canned in fruit juices or in light syrup rather than the ones prepared with heavy syrups, and as with other food items, be sure to read the labels carefully to determine calorie counts and carbohydrate levels.
A couple of pieces of dark chocolate is perhaps even more satisfying than a sugar-and-fat laden brownie or piece of cake. Better yet, researchers in two Virginia universities have discovered that cocoa, an active ingredient in dark chocolate, contains substances that increase glucose tolerance as well as aid in weight loss. High quality dark chocolate can be obtained in health food and specialty foods stores and should contain at least 70 percent cocoa.www.always-dependable.com