Ask the Registered Dietitian Archives
Here is an archive nutrition and food-related questions and answers.
- Is there a difference between a diet for someone with prediabetes and someone who already has diabetes?
- Where can we find a dietitian and a suggested meal plan for my husband with diabetes?
- What is the story with beans?
- What can I do to handle my cravings for sweets?
- What are good snacks for someone with type 2 diabetes besides fruit?
- Is there a limit for how many grams of sugar to have each day to prevent diabetes?
- Is there a food that someone with diabetes can eat a lot of in one sitting?
- How many carbs can someone with diabetes have per meal? What about per day?
- How long should I wait to eat after taking my insulin?
- Does ADA have any resources, recipes, etc. for people with diabetes who are also vegetarian?
- Can I have a glass of red wine before dinner?
- Where can I find a diabetes-friendly dessert recipe?
- What should I eat for breakfast?
- What is the rule about subtracting fiber from total carbohydrate?
- I was told that honey does not raise your blood sugar and you can use as much as you want. Is that true?
When someone is diagnosed with prediabetes (A1C test of >5.7), is it best to follow a diabetic diet? Is there a difference between a diet for someone with prediabetes and someone who already has diabetes?
Yes, there are some differences. Both people with prediabetes and diabetes are encouraged to increase their daily activity and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. However, people who already have diabetes also have to focus on meal planning to control their carbohydrate intake and their blood glucose. This is not as much a priority for prediabetes.
When you have prediabetes, research has shown that eating a lower-fat, reduced calorie diet not only helps with moderate weight loss, but it can also help to prevent or delay diabetes. Reducing calories usually means decreasing the size of your food portions and also making healthier choices. Lowering the fat in your diet is easier than you think. Become familiar with the different kinds of fat and the food sources that we get them from at diabetes.org.
Here are some tips when it comes to choosing which foods to eat:
- Use a grocery list when shopping for food to help you choose more fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Instead of stressing out about the foods you're trying not to eat, focus on the foods you need to eat more of. Go to What Can I Eat? and find out how many servings of veggies, fruits, and whole grains you need each day. Work on achieving those goals.
- Buy leaner meats (such as chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of pork or beef such as sirloin or chuck roast) and lower fat dairy products (like low-fat or skim milk and yogurt).
- Use healthier cooking methods without added fat (i.e. broiling, baking, microwaving, grilling, roasting, etc.). Avoid frying foods.
- Save money by limiting how much soda, sweets and chips or other snack foods you buy.
- Remember that special "dietetic" or "diabetic" foods often cost extra money and may not be much healthier than simply following the suggestions given here.
You can learn more about losing weight and preventing diabetes at diabetes.org.
My husband's weight and blood sugar are out of control. We are overwhelmed and would like to find a dietitian but don't know where to start. Where can we find a suggested meal plan along with other nutrition information?
Research has shown that having extra support from a registered dietitian (RD) periodically throughout the year (monthly to every three months) may help to lower A1C levels by several percentage points over the long term. Also, frequent contact with an RD can help with weight loss efforts. So, an (RD) can work with your husband to get his weight and diabetes under control.
An RD can teach you and your husband about how different foods affect blood glucose levels, how to plan meals, and how to make the healthiest food choices. Changes in medication, insulin, or other health needs may also call for a trip to see an RD. Once you have a handle on things, you may not need to see an RD quite as much (perhaps just 1-2 times per year).
If your doctor does not work with a dietitian with skills and experience with diabetes, ask him or her to refer you to one. If you still cannot find a dietitian, another place to look is the Find an RD page on the Diabetes Care and Education Dietetic Practice Group website: http://www.dce.org/search-rd/.
Before seeing a registered dietitian, check with your insurance company to ask about their coverage of nutrition services. Once you know what is covered under your plan, work with the RD to plan your visits accordingly.
If you are looking for a sample meal plan and nutrition advice to get you started, you may want to sign up for access to Recipes for Healthy Living. Each month, a new meal plan, recipes, and cooking tips are added to this free online nutrition resource to make healthy eating and meal planning easier for you.
What is the story with beans? I know they are starchy, so are they a bad choice? I have also seen them promoted as a good source of fiber. Which is it?
Beans and legumes are a great food choice. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and lean protein. They are also a great source of soluble fiber, which can help protect your heart by lowering cholesterol. You can get almost 25% of the fiber you need in a day from just 1/2 cup of beans!
It’s true - beans are considered a starchy food, and starch is a type of carbohydrate. However, people with diabetes need to include some carbohydrates in their diet. We consider beans a good carbohydrate choice because they are also packed with so many important nutrients. Just make sure you count the carbohydrates that they provide in your meal plan and keep portion sizes under control.
Most beans have about 20 grams of carbohydrate in ½ cup. However, this can vary depending on the type of bean you choose. Always read nutrition labels and check portion sizes for a closer estimate. You might be interested in our meal tracking tool as well, MyFoodAdvisor.
You have the option to buy beans canned or dried. Both are similar in terms of nutrition. The major difference is that dried beans are almost completely sodium-free if you don’t add extra salt when cooking them. On the other hand, most canned varieties have several hundred milligrams of sodium per serving. You can still buy canned beans if you prefer convenience, but opt for products that say “reduced sodium” or “low sodium” on the can. If you can find a product that says “no salt added”, that is even better. In addition, always drain and thoroughly rinse canned beans to lower the sodium content even more.
Sweets are my weakness. What can I do to handle my cravings for sweets?
It’s important for all of us to watch the amount of sweets and desserts that we eat. Most sweets like cookies, ice cream, candy, cakes, and other baked goods are very dense in calories, carbohydrates, and often fat. Eating too much of these foods can cause weight gain and can sabotage blood glucose control if you have diabetes. Choosing healthy sources of carbohydrate (like whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans, and low-fat dairy) over less healthy carbohydrate foods (like refined grains and sweets) is best for your health and your weight.
That doesn’t mean you have to cut out sweets completely. With a little planning and portion control, you can fit in a small serving of your favorite treats once in a while – even if you have diabetes. Other times, you can curb your sweet craving with other foods that are healthier and lower in calories!
Fitting in Sweets with Diabetes
How do you make sweets work with a diabetes meal plan? Take a look at what you usually eat at meal time and find a food that provides about the same amount carbohydrate as a small portion of your dessert of choice. Then, substitute the dessert for that food so you can enjoy a treat. This means you may have to skip on a small dinner roll or side of mashed potatoes to “free-up” some carbohydrates in your meal. If you want, you can use this substitution method to plan for a satisfying dessert a few times each week.
Portion control can be tough for those of us who have a weakness for sweets. So, when you buy sweets at the grocery store, choose carefully. It may not be the best idea to buy a lot of treats that are hard to resist. You can try portioning out desserts in separate baggies right after buying them. Or, look for treats that are individually packaged or sold in small quantities.
Also, when you have a craving for something sweet, evaluate how hungry you physically feel. Are you actually hungry or did you just eat a full meal 30 minutes ago? If it’s just a craving, do something else like take a walk, call a friend, or pour yourself a low-calorie drink to get sweets off your mind.
Some Other Ideas for Curbing Your Sweet Cravings
It’s best to save sweets for special occasions. And there are also a few other ways to handle your cravings for something sweet. Do you mind the taste of artificial sweeteners? There are many artificially sweetened drinks like crystal light and diet sodas that have no carbohydrates and minimal calories. Yet, they provide us with a sweet, refreshing drink. Light yogurt, sugar-free pudding, and sugar-free gelatin are other options that use artificial sweeteners and can help curb sweet cravings.These will usually still provide some calories and carbohydrate, so be sure to always check nutrition labels.
Fruit is also a great dessert choice. Think about all of the different options you have – melon, grapes, strawberries, oranges, raspberries, and more! Though fruit does provide carbohydrates, it is a sweet treat with a lot less calories and fat per serving than a piece of pie or cake. It will also provide you with several important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
It is important not to feel deprived of sweets when you have diabetes, but it is also important not to go overboard. Eating too much of any carbohydrate food will cause blood glucose to rise. Even when choosing from the options above, consider portion size and how each food fits into your diabetes meal plan.
What are good snacks for someone with type 2 diabetes besides fruit?
There are a lot of snack options out there for people with diabetes. Fruit is just one option. Snacks can be an important part of a diabetes meal plan. For some people, smart snacking a few times a day may help keep blood glucose levels stable. Snacking also keeps you feeling satisfied, so you are less likely to overeat at your next meal.
However, many people think of high-fat, high-sugar foods when they hear the word “snack”. Unhealthy snack foods like cookies, candy, and chips are dense in calories and offer minimal nutritional value. But there are still lots of snack options that can help curb hunger while adding a nutritious energy boost to your day – without sabotaging efforts to prevent or delay diabetes.
It is best to think of snacking as an opportunity to fit more nutrients into your day. Nutrient-rich foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy are all good options. These foods are lower in sodium, calories, and fat when compared to most salty snacks and sweets. They will also fill you up and help to curb your hunger until your next meal.
Many of us tend to overeat when we snack. In addition to choosing healthy foods, controlling portion size is also important. Check out the list of healthy snack ideas below.
- 10 baby carrots with 2 tablespoons fat-free ranch dressing for dipping
- Cucumber slices with ¼ cup guacamole
- A serving of any non-starchy veggie and 1/3 cup hummus for dipping
- 1 6-ounce serving of non-fat yogurt
- 3 cups light popcorn
- 5 small whole wheat crackers and one piece of light string cheese
- 1 ounce of unsalted nuts (for example, dry roasted almonds, raw cashews, raw walnuts, or unsalted mixed nuts).
- 2 rice cakes topped with light cream cheese or another light spreadable cheese
- 1 piece of 100% whole wheat toast with 1 tablespoon peanut butter or trans-free margarine
- 1 small granola bar
- 1 packet of sugar-free instant oatmeal
- A small bowl of whole grain cereal with ½ cup of skim milk
- Half of a turkey sandwich made with 100% whole wheat bread, lean deli turkey, mustard, and any non-starchy veggies you want
Note that the portion sizes given above may need to be adjusted to fit with your meal plan. Fruit is also always an option when it comes to snacking. For more diabetes-friendly ideas that include carbohydrate counts, check out our snacking page.
My husband’s parents both have type 2 diabetes; probably due to their poor eating habits. He likes sugary foods too - cookies, candy bars etc. Is there a limit for how many grams of sugar he should have each day to prevent diabetes? He is slender but at the age of 58 his body has started to change. I’m worried he could end up with diabetes.
Below is a list of risk factors that increase one’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes:
- People with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and/or impaired fasting glucose (IFG)
- People over age 45
- People with a family history of diabetes
- People who are overweight
- People who do not exercise regularly
- People with low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides, high blood pressure
- Certain racial and ethnic groups (e.g., Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaska Natives)
- Women who had gestational diabetes, or who have had a baby weighing 9 pounds or more at birth
Some of these risk factors you can change, while others you don’t have much control over. Your husband has a strong family history of diabetes since both of his parents have diabetes. He is also getting older, so that increases his risk as well. One resource we have that you may want to check out is our diabetes risk test. This might be a good conversation starter to get him talking about what you can do together to prevent diabetes.
It’s great that he is not overweight, but there a few other things he can be doing to minimize his risk. Exercising regularly is important, as is eating a healthy diet. Together, these two lifestyle changes can help him maintain a healthy weight and muscle mass. Exercise and healthy eating can also help keep his cholesterol and blood pressure under control.
A lot of people ask if eating too much sugar can increase their risk for developing diabetes. The answer is not so simple. Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories from any source (whether sugary foods or high fat foods) contributes to weight gain. Research has shown that drinking sugary drinks is linked to type 2 diabetes as well. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people limit their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to help prevent diabetes.
However, there is not a specific amount of sugar he should limit himself to in order to prevent diabetes. Overall, he should focus on making healthy food choices and controlling portion sizes. This means filling his plate with more fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains and limiting sugary drinks, sweets, fatty meats, and unhealthy snack foods.
For more about making healthy food choices, visit the What Can I Eat? section of diabetes.org.
Is there a food that someone with diabetes can eat a lot of in one sitting?
It is okay to treat yourself once in a while, but you should always try to keep portions under control and avoid overeating. I wouldn’t suggest eating anything “mindlessly”. Eating too much of anything, whether you have diabetes or not, can have serious consequences.
When you have diabetes, there are just a few foods that you can eat in larger portions without having to worry too much about your blood glucose. This includes certain raw, non-starchy vegetables such as:
- Broccoli florets
- Salad green
- Yellow squash
All of these raw veggies have less than 5 grams of carbohydrate per cup. So, you can eat quite a bit without raising your blood glucose too much. They also have other benefits because they are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Another food that is high in fiber and a good option for snacking is popcorn. You can eat 3 cups of (popped) popcorn for just 15 grams of carbohydrate. This is a relatively large portion size. Just be careful not to add extra butter and salt! Try air popping it yourself or buy light versions of microwave popcorn. There are also 100-calorie bags in stores now.
How many carbs can someone with diabetes have per meal? What about per day?
This is a very common question among people with diabetes. The truth is, there is not a standard amount of carbohydrates that will work for everyone with type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, we recommend following an individualized meal plan that will help you meet your diabetes goals. Your healthcare provider can help you set these goals, which might include losing weight, improving your A1C, lowering your blood pressure and/or lowering cholesterol levels.
If you haven’t set up an individualized meal plan yet, 45-60 grams of carbohydrate per meal is a place to start. However, some people may need more and some people may need less.
Find a time to work with your healthcare provider to set up a meal plan that takes your preferences into account and can help you achieve your diabetes goals. Ask about how many carbohydrates to include at each meal and whether or not to include snacks. Your provider may suggest using the diabetes plate method to start or they may have you try carbohydrate counting. It may also be helpful to work with a registered dietitian (RD) when learning to plan meals.
How long should I wait to eat after taking my insulin?
This really depends on the type of insulin your doctor has prescribed to you. There are more than 20 types of insulin sold in the United States. These insulins differ in how they are made, how they work in the body, and how much they cost.
In order to control blood glucose, it’s essential to balance the insulin you take with the food you eat. If you take an insulin bolus and you wait too long to eat, it can cause a hypoglycemia, which can be very dangerous. If you take an insulin bolus and you eat less than expected, that can also cause hypoglycemia. So, it’s very important to be familiar with the way your insulin works and how to balance it with food.
Three important characteristics of your insulin to know include the onset, peak time, and duration.
- Onset is the length of time before insulin reaches the bloodstream and begins lowering blood glucose.
- Peaktime is the time during which insulin is at maximum strength in terms of lowering blood glucose.
- Duration is how long insulin continues to lower blood glucose.
There are different types of insulin which vary in how quickly they work, when they peak, and how long they last.
- Rapid-acting insulin, such as insulin lispro (Eli Lilly), insulin aspart (Novo Nordisk), or insulin glulisine (Sanofi-Aventis), begins to work about 5 minutes after injection, peaks in about 1 hour, and continues to work for 2 to 4 hours.
- Regular or Short-acting insulin (Humulin R, Novolin R, ReliOn Regular) usually reaches the bloodstream within 30 minutes after injection, peaks anywhere from 2 to 3 hours after injection, and is effective for approximately 3 to 6 hours.
- Intermediate-acting insulin (Humulin N, Novolin N, and ReliOn N) generally reaches the bloodstream about 2 to 4 hours after injection, peaks 4 to 12 hours later, and is effective for about 12 to 18 hours.
- Long-acting insulin (ultralente) reaches the bloodstream 6 to 10 hours after injection and is usually effective for 20 to 24 hours. There are also two long-acting insulin analogues: glargine and detemir. They both tend to lower glucose levels fairly evenly over a 24-hour period with less of a peak of action than ultralente.
There are also some mixed insulins. In addition, insulin can vary in strength, so it's important to know the strength of the insulin you've been prescribed.
Insulin shots are most effective when you take them so that insulin starts to work when glucose from your food begins to enter your blood. For example, regular insulin works best if you take it 30 minutes before you eat.
If you are confused about how your insulin works, it is best to ask for clarification from your healthcare provider. Your pharmacist should also be able to answer questions. For extra help with meal planning and balancing food and insulin, you may want to consider working with a certified diabetes educator or a registered dietitian who has experience in diabetes. Additional resources that may be helpful are our Diabetes Forecast articles A User’s Guide to Insulin and Back to Basics: Insulin.
Does ADA have any resources, recipes, etc. for people with diabetes who are also vegetarian? I am having a hard time planning meals.
A vegetarian diet is a healthy and safe option for people with diabetes. It should be well-planned, including a mix of vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, meat substitutes, and low-fat dairy products (if you choose to include dairy).
It is also important to remember that portion control is still important when following a vegetarian diet with diabetes. Knowing what an appropriate portion looks like on your plate helps you keep your carbohydrate and calorie intake in check, which helps with blood glucose and weight control.
You can find several pages on vegetarian meal planning in our vegetarian diets section. This includes a page full of meal ideas for different types of vegetarian diets.
Another free resource for diabetes-friendly recipes is Recipes For Healthy Living. This ADA website is updated monthly with new recipes, a meal plan, and other cooking tips and videos. Every month, our one-day meal plan includes at least one vegetarian meal and snack. In addition, we include several vegetarian recipes. You can search for vegetarian recipes from the Recipes landing page. To get our monthly e-newsletter when new recipes are available, sign up now.
Can I have a glass of red wine before dinner? I have newly diagnosed diabetes.
Beyond all the health and safety concerns about alcohol, if you have diabetes and are on diabetes medications that lower blood glucose or insulin, you need to practice caution. The action of insulin and some diabetes pills (sulfonylureas and meglitinides (Prandin)), is to lower blood glucose by making more insulin available. So, you should not drink when your blood glucose is low or when your stomach is empty.
Alcohol can cause hypoglycemia shortly after drinking and for 24 hours after drinking. So, having a glass of red wine around dinner time is fine to do, but check your blood glucose before you drink and eat either before or while you drink.
If you choose to drink, we recommend women have no more than 1 drink per day and men have no more than 2 drinks per day. One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1-1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
Red wine does not need to be counted in your meal plan as a source of carbohydrates, but you should know that alcoholic drinks provide extra calories in your diet. A glass of wine typically has about 100 calories. To avoid taking in a lot of extra calories from alcohol, it’s important to watch portion size when drinking and to follow the recommendation above.
Where can I find a diabetes-friendly dessert recipe? Can I make normal dessert recipes and just replace sugar with aspartame?
Many people think desserts are off limits if you have diabetes. However, you don’t have to deprive yourself of your favorite sweets. We all know that candy, ice cream, cakes, cookies, and other baked products are typically dense in calories, carbohydrates, and fat. It’s important for all of us to save sweets for special occasions, and to keep portions small – especially if you have diabetes.
It is easy to overindulge when it comes to sweets. Sometimes, “building in” the portion size can help keep you from over-eating. This may mean pre-cutting your brownies or cake into small, reasonable portions. You can also try making mini versions of your favorite desserts like mini cupcakes or mini tarts. If you are looking for recipes and tips on how to do this, you may be interested in our article Tiny (but tasty) Treats.
Always choose dessert recipes that provide nutrition information so you have the portion size, calories, and carbohydrates in a serving. This will make meal planning easier for you. The best dessert recipes will be fruit-based and/or include some whole grains. Check out the links below for some dessert recipes that meet the American Diabetes Association guidelines:
Interested in receiving diabetes friendly recipes like the ones above on a monthly basis? Sign up for our free Recipes for Healthy Living E-newsletter and you’ll receive a new set of recipes (desserts, plus other courses!), a sample meal plan, and other meal planning tips each month.
You may also be interested in our cookbook The Big Book of Diabetic Desserts.
Completely replacing the sugar with an artificial sweetener in a dessert recipe can be tricky. When you use sugar in cookies, cakes, and other desserts, it not only provides sweetness, but it also provides structure, texture, color, and it helps to retain moisture in the product after baking. Other sweeteners (both artificial sweeteners like Splenda and those that provide calories like agave nectar) do not have all of the same properties as sugar, so the final baked product may look and taste different.
There are several different artificial sweeteners that you can buy in stores under various brand names. Often, replacing just half the sugar in a recipe with an artificial sweetener still gives an acceptable final product, while slightly lowering carbs and calories. However, aspartame is one artificial sweetener that should not be used in baking or cooking because it loses its sweetness at high temperatures.
Some brands of artificial sweeteners offer pre-packaged “baking blends”. These are usually about half-sugar and half-artificial sweetener, so they have fewer calories and carbohydrate. They usually provide substitution directions on the package. Because replacing the sugar in a recipe can be complicated, it may be easiest to find a recipe that has already done the substitution for you and provides all of the important nutrition information.
What should I eat for breakfast?
There are a lot of breakfast options that are quick, easy, and healthy. Try to incorporate a few different food groups into your breakfast meal each day. If you have diabetes, it’s important to keep your carbohydrate intake in check as well. Below are several well-balanced energizing breakfast ideas.
- 6 ounces of light, non-fat yogurt with one cup of berries (add 2 tablespoons of chopped nuts or add 2 tablespoons of granola if it fits with your plan)
- 1 piece of whole wheat toast, 1 tablespoon of unsalted peanut butter, and ½ of a grapefruit
- Smoothie made with non-fat yogurt and berries, sweetened with artificial sweetener if desired
- ½ cup of cottage cheese with 1 cup of fresh fruit
- Small bowl of whole grain cereal with ½ cup low-fat or fat-free milk, with a side of fresh berries or melon
- 1-2 packets of instant oatmeal (sugar-free) or plain quick oats made with hot water (stir in chopped walnuts or almonds, cinnamon, or dried fruit if desired)
- 1-2 scrambled eggs cooked in the microwave – sprinkle on some low-fat cheese, add some salsa, and wrap in a whole wheat tortilla (you can also use just egg whites or egg substitute for less fat and cholesterol)
- Heat up leftovers from last night’s healthy dinner
- 1 whole-wheat waffle with trans-free margarine sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar-free syrup, plus a side of low-sodium turkey sausage and a 4-ounce glass of 100% juice
- Breakfast sandwich made with a whole wheat English muffin, one poached egg, and one slice of reduced-fat cheese
- 1 egg white omelet made with sautéed bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms, drizzled with hot sauce.
You can also add a cup of coffee to any of the options above. Coffee (without sugar or cream) is very low calorie and does not provide carbohydrates.
Note that depending on your diabetes meal plan, the portions and options in the meals above may need to be adjusted. You can also find some additional breakfast ideas right here on diabetes.org.
Is there a rule about subtracting fiber from total carbohydrate if there are more than 5 grams per serving?
Below is the subtraction rule that can be used by those with diabetes who are advanced carbohydrate counters or are on intense insulin management:
If a food has 5 or more grams of dietary fiber per serving, subtract half the grams of fiber from the total grams of carbohydrate in a serving.
Read on for an explanation of why you only subtract half of the fiber and for examples of how to use the subtraction rule.
Fiber is found naturally in all plant foods - whole grains, fruits, nuts, beans, and vegetables. Soluble and insoluble fibers are two types of fibers that can occur naturally in these foods. Sometimes, companies also add other types of fiber to foods during processing.
So, there are several different types of fiber, but not all fibers raise blood glucose to the same extent. Manufacturers are not required to list the amount of each type of fiber in the foods they produce. Usually, just the total grams of dietary fiber are given on the nutrition label.
Due to these labeling rules and the different blood glucose responses from different types of fiber, the best we can do is estimate. The rule above is used to account for the fiber that does not affect blood glucose. Here are some examples of how to use it:
- A granola bar has 6 grams of fiber and 20 grams of total carbohydrate per serving. Half of 6 is 3, so (20 total grams of carbohydrate) - (3 grams of fiber) = 17 grams of carbohydrate
- A bowl of cereal has 3 grams of fiber per serving and 25 grams of total carbohydrate per serving. In this case, you would not subtract anything. You would count the full 25 grams in your meal plan because there are less than 5 grams of fiber per serving.
I was told that honey does not raise your blood sugar and you can use as much as you want. Is that true?
Actually, honey and regular sugar have about the same amount of calories and carbohdyrates per serving, so they will cause a similar rise in blood glucose when you have diabetes. Other caloric sweeteners like brown sugar, powdered sugar, and maple syrup are in the same boat. You don’t need to avoid these sweeteners completly, but we recommend that people with diabetes use them sparingly and in small portions. Below you will find a comparison of the various sweeteners:
1 tablespoon honey = about 64 calories, 17 grams of carbohydrate
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar = about 52 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrate
1 tablespoon white or granulated sugar = about 49 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrate
1 tablespoon maple syrup = about 52 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrate
1 packet of artificial sweetener = about 4 calories,
One difference between sugar and honey is that honey has a slightly lower glycemic index. Glycemic index is a tool that can be used in diabetes meal planning. Having a lower glycemic index means that regular sugar will raise blood glucose a little faster than an equal amount of honey. However, the rate at which these sweeteners increase blood glucose can change depending on what foods they are eaten with and several other factors.
You probably noticed that a packet of artificial sweetener has significantly less carbohydrates and calories than the others. When meal planning, it may be easier to control blood glucose if you use artificial sweeteners to sweeten foods and drinks. There are several different artificial sweeteners that you can buy in stores: stevia, aspartame, acesulfame-K, saccharin, or sucralose. Artificial sweeteners are very low-calorie and have fewer carbs than honey or sugar. Learn more about artificial sweeteners right here on diabetes.org.
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