Eat within limits Indulge in sweets occasionally
Ecstasy is a glassful of tea and a piece of sugar in the mouth.
Diabetes and dessert don’t go together — or so we’ve been told. An unrequited lust for sugar defines the lives of many diabetics conscientiously trying to stick to a diet. Even those who know that sugar is not forbidden for “s ugar patients” find the art of sensible sinning difficult to master. This column is a rough guide to sweetness with safety.
Know what your overall daily calorie intake should be and stay within limit — sweets or no sweets. All excess calories are a demand for extra insulin — something diabetics can’t produce. Taking supplemental insulin to cover the occasional sweet treat is acceptable as long as you don’t make a habit of it. Overeating regularly and covering the extra calories with supplemental insulin or oral hypoglycaemic will worsen obesity — this further aggravates diabetes and also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Exchange calories. For example, if you want a chocolate ice cream, eliminate an equivalent amount of calories — maybe a chapatti — from your regular meal. Resist the temptation to eliminate everything healthful from a meal and replace it with chocolates, sweets and ice creams. Regular, boring food has plenty of nutrients the body needs on a daily basis, while sinful foods are mostly empty calories.
Do not hesitate to use artificial sweeteners. Internet legends claim a lot of side effects for aspartame, sucralose, etc, but these concerns have proven unfounded over decades of use and studies in tens of thousands of patients. Aspartame acquires a metallic taste upon heating; sucralose is better for use in tea, coffee and cooked foods. Regular sugar in tea will not worsen glycaemic control because a couple of teaspoons of sugar contain very few calories.
Keep in mind that even “low sugar” foods contain calories.
A “diabetic sweet” made with sucralose contains ghee and refined flour — not ideal foods for a diabetic. Some sweets and chocolates may even contain trans fats — the worst fat in terms of cardiovascular risk. Like Oscar Wilde, conquer temptation by giving in occasionally. Don’t play Jack-in-the-corner at your own birthday party just because you have diabetes: have fun, and remember to walk an extra couple of miles the next day.