Sweeteners and Diabetes

If you have diabetes, that doesn't mean you can't eat sweets. People with diabetes can eat desserts, use sweeteners, and still keep their blood glucose (sugar) levels in their target range. These options are available for sweetening your foods:

  • Sugar and other sweeteners with calories including honey, brown sugar, molasses, fructose, cane sugar, and confectioners sugar
  • Reduced-calorie sweeteners including erythritol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol
  • Low-calorie sweeteners such as ascelfume potassium, aspartame, saccharin and sucralose

Sugar and Other Sweeteners with Calories

In the past, people with diabetes were warned to completely avoid sugar. Experts thought that eating sugar would rapidly increase blood glucose, resulting in levels that were too high. Some people even thought that eating sugar caused diabetes, an idea that we now know isn't true.

Research has shown that the total amount of carbohydrate affects blood glucose levels the most. But, the type of carbohydrate (e.g. sugar vs. starch) can also affect blood glucose levels. Learn more about the types of carbohydrate and the glycemic index.

Now experts agree you can eat foods with sugar as long as you work them into your meal plan as you would any other carb-containing food. The same guidelines apply to other sweeteners with calories, including brown sugar, honey, and molasses.

Of course, most sweets and desserts don't provide the important vitamins and minerals found in more healthful foods, so you'll want to make sure you're still getting the nutrients you need. Many sweets, in addition to having carbs, are also high in fat and calories.

If you like sweets, but also want to lose weight, you can try these tips:

  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh or dried fruit
  • Eat a small serving of your favorite dessert, instead of something ordinary
  • When you are eating out, split desserts with a friend or family member
  • Cut back on the amounts of sugar and fat in your recipe favorites
  • Try new recipes for lower-calorie sweets
  • Choose lower-calorie, lower-fat versions of your favorite desserts
  • Use a low-calorie sweetener instead of sugar for your coffee or tea