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Can I Eat Sugar If I Have Diabetes?

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
March 19, 2023
March 20, 2023

As a diabetes educator, one of the most common questions I hear from patients with type 2 diabetes is whether or not they can still eat sugar. While sugar can be a tempting treat, it's important for people with diabetes to understand how it can impact their blood sugar levels and overall health.

If you are not interested in reading the article, click the video below!

First, let's understand what diabetes is. It's a condition in which the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or the cells don't respond properly to insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. This can increase the risk of complications such as heart disease, neuropathy, and kidney disease.

So, can people with diabetes still eat sugar?

The answer is yes, but with caution. Consuming too much sugar can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous for people with type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 10% of total calorie intake.

Mind The Source.

Be mindful of the source of sugar in your diet. Processed foods, such as candy, soda, and baked goods, often contain high amounts of added sugars. These foods can also be high in unhealthy fats and calories, which can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of complications.

Instead, try to get your sugar fix from natural sources, such as fruit. Fruit contains fiber, which can help regulate the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Additionally, choose whole fruit instead of fruit juice, as juice contains concentrated amounts of sugar and can rapidly spike blood sugar levels.

And try not to go for the artificial sweeteners, and naturally derived artificial sweeteners. Splenda, monk fruit, stevia, equal, sweet-n-low… They’re all under scrutiny for potentially still causing glucose rise and weight gain. Try to get your tongue and taste buds accustomed to a slightly lower, more natural sweetness level, instead.

In conclusion, people with diabetes can still enjoy sugar, but it's important to do so in moderation. Limit added sugars, choose natural sources of sugar, and be mindful of the foods you're eating. As with any dietary change, it's important to talk to a healthcare professional before making significant alterations to your diet, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or food allergies. With careful management, people with type 2 diabetes can enjoy sweet treats while still maintaining their health.