Chocolate can be a real treat, but for diabetics it can be a real danger. The high sugar and fat content in our favourite indulgent snack means the nation’s four million diabetics may have a dangerous, and possibly even fatal, reaction if they eat too much chocolate, which can raise blood sugar to dangerous levels.
But happily, that doesn’t mean diabetics can’t eat chocolate at all – they just need to eat it in moderation - a mantra most of us should follow.
Diabetes UK says: “It’s a myth that you can’t eat chocolate if you have diabetes. Just eat it in moderation, rather than using it to satisfy hunger, and don’t eat a lot in one go as it affects your blood sugar levels.”
Here are a few tips and reminders to help curb your chocolate consumption.
1. Dark chocolate
Try eating a good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa if possible). It has a stronger taste than milk chocolate, so you shouldn't need to eat as much to satisfy chocolate cravings.
2. Opt for fruit
If you want a chocolate bar with a filling, choose fruit rather than nuts because fruit’s lower in calories and fat than nuts - but check the fruit isn’t coated in sugar.
3. Rice cakes
Satisfy chocolate cravings by munching on chocolate-coated rice cakes or chocolate chip rice and corn. They tend to be lower in fat and calories than chocolate, but check labels as you’ll still need to be careful with the portion sizes if you’re diabetic.
Try lower-fat chocolate alternatives, such as lower-fat chocolate yoghurts and desserts, and low-calorie instant hot chocolate drinks.
5. Slow down
Eat chocolate slowly and let it melt in your mouth - savour the taste and texture, and make it last longer.
6. Store it in the fridge
Store chocolate in the fridge because then it’ll take even longer to melt in your mouth.
7. Not before meals
Try to save chocolate for after a meal, when you’ll be less hungry so should eat less of it as a result.
8. Grate it
Try grating chocolate to make it go further, and then add it to fruit so you’ve got the taste and the bulk, but with less actual chocolate.
9. Read the label
Diabetics should read the labels on chocolate – if you’re carb-counting and taking insulin, it’ll help you adjust your insulin doses.
Be careful if you eat diabetic chocolate – it contains sweeteners such as fructose or sorbitol, which can affect blood sugar levels.
Diabetic chocolate contains as much fat as ordinary chocolate, and is often high in saturated and trans fats, which aren’t considered healthy and have been linked to health conditions including heart disease.
Remember diabetic chocolate usually contains at least as many calories as normal chocolate.
There can be a laxative effect from eating diabetic chocolate.
Are you diabetic? Do you worry about your chocolate consumption? Tell us in the comments below.