Almighty Diabetic Sweet Tooth

One of the best parts about being a father is having the ability to allow my child to indulge in the things that I can’t. Namely, food and sweets. Although I try to keep my son on the nutritional straight and narrow, a big part of me is often envious that he can make it through his day by consuming high-carb foods without worrying about his blood sugar levels. A good example would be a few days ago. I woke up and hadn’t gotten any coffee in me yet.

My son had eaten a light breakfast, but expressed his desire to have some eggs. I was taken aback by this, as he is usually opposed to anything that isn’t crackers, bread or wraps. I told him I’d immediately fry him up a couple of eggs, but he corrected me by showing me the small bag of Hershey’s Eggies I had sitting in my workout area from a low I had suffered the day before (BTW, chocolate is absolutely horrible and the worst choice when you’re having low blood sugar, but I’ll save that one for another post!) I ended up shrugging my shoulders and said, “Why not?” and let him consume the five or six eggies that were left in the pouch. It was nine o’clock in the morning. Meinh…

My son has that benefit and his immune system is showing no signs of attacking his beta cells, much to my relief. But what can those of us who suffer from Diabetes do? If you’re anything like me, just HEARING about a specific food will have me craving it. I’ve lost count of the number of times that my wife has spoken the words, “You know what would be good?” only to have me salivate and suffer in silence. Okay, who am I kidding? I never do ANYTHING silent…

Although I am currently on pump therapy and some “experts” may say that the use of insulin allows for the consumption of sugared goods if I so choose, piling on more insulin isn’t a great solution and it has its share of side effects. Depending on the routine of your day, constant infusions of insulin outside of your meal periods can lead to difficulties controlling your overall blood glucose levels. I also don’t need to remind anyone that people with Diabetes can have difficulties with managing body weight and increased insulin definitely doesn’t help with that.

First and foremost, sugar can be addicting. Yes, you read that right. When was the last time you heard of a white powder that WASN’T addicting? But seriously, craving sweets can be an addictive habit where your body seeks the release of dopamine through the consumption of something sugary or sweet. The idea is to try to find some way of curbing that craving without succumbing to it. I can easily admit that I’m a big fan of allowing the occasional indulgence. Doing so not only allows you the occasional treat, it makes it easier to stick to your meal plans and less likely to falter from a diet you may be on.

According to an article posted on HealthLine.com, there are a number of foods that you can consume that will help to curb those nasty sugar craving. Although I won’t list ALL the foods in this article, I’ll point out my favourites and which ones I feel have worked the best for me. Obviously, you want to be able to recognize the difference between a craving and genuine hunger. But here are some options…

  1. Fruit: This is a great alternative since most fruits have a sweet taste. They do also contain sugar, so you want to know how much you’ll have to bolus in order to compensate. The difference is that it’s a much healthier option with fibre and other good stuff thrown into the mix;
  2. Dark Chocolate: My wife and I are both fans of dark chocolate. And it usually refers to any chocolate that is higher than 70% cacao. Dark chocolate has a number of fantastic benefits, which I wrote about in my post Embrace Your Dark Side. But the higher the percentage of the chocolate, the less sugar is usually contained within. Chocolate is still pretty high in fat, however. So, that’s a consideration;
  3. Chewing Gum: Yup, that’s right! Some studies have shown that chewing a piece of sugar-free gum can help to stave off sugar cravings, as well as help to control hunger. They’re sweetened with artificial sweeteners, of course, and not everyone likes that. But it’s certainly an easy way to stave off cravings.

These are just my top 3 and the ones I usually lean on. The chewing gum is actually my most-used method of staving off sugar cravings and/or controlling hunger throughout the day. The article includes 19 foods and does go on to say that if you find yourself constantly craving sugar, you should probably examine your diet and figure out what you’re lacking that might be causing it.

Last but not least, there are plenty of “Diabetes-friendly” desserts out there. Don’t be afraid to do some research and find some recipes, should your craving be for an actual dessert. The Diabetes Canada website has an entire section on recipes and can offer a variety of Diabetes-friendly recipes for not just desserts, but healthy meal options as well. The idea is not to try and go cold turkey, but to be smart about it and recognize the cravings for what they are. ☯

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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