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Diabetes and Ice Cream: Making a Healthier Choice

Diabetic-friendly frozen treats are a thing! Learn and discover tips for guilt-free enjoyment. Make smarter choices for a sweeter life.

Diabetes is on the increase according to The World Health Organisation (WHO). Key statistics provided state; “The number of people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.”

Source: World Health Organisation.

It’s highly likely those numbers have increased a vast amount since that report was provided by WHO.

These reported figures mean that many more of us have the challenge of balancing sweet treats with a healthy diet.

In this article, we’ll explore the delicate balance of enjoying frozen desserts while embracing a diabetic-friendly lifestyle, highlighting the journey to discovering healthier and equally delicious ice cream options and we’ll also share with you a Diabetic-Friendly Ice Cream Recipe. If you prefer to go straight to the recipe, click on the link below, or read along to find out more.

Jump to Diabetic-Friendly Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe

Diabetes: The Challenge We Face.

Navigating Sweet Temptations and Health Concerns.

Diabetes and Ice Cream Making Healthier Choices image 3 jpeg selection of blood sugar monitoring equipment frosted fusionsLiving with diabetes poses unique challenges, especially when it comes to managing cravings for sweet treats. The delicate balance between satisfying our taste buds and maintaining blood sugar levels can often feel like a daunting task.

For those diagnosed with diabetes, the allure of indulging in sugary delights can be met with hesitation and concern about blood sugar spikes and potential health consequences.

However, the journey towards a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be flavourless. By understanding the impact of different ingredients, exploring alternative options, and practising mindful consumption, individuals with diabetes can still enjoy delicious frozen treats without compromising their health.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition characterised by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. It occurs when the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin (a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar) or is unable to use insulin effectively.

Insulin is essential for moving glucose from the bloodstream into cells, where it’s used for energy. There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It usually develops in childhood or adolescence.

Type 2 diabetes is more common and often develops later in life. It’s often associated with factors like obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and genetics. People with diabetes need to manage their blood sugar levels carefully through diet, exercise, medications, and, in some cases, insulin injections to prevent complications and maintain their overall health.

Education is Everything.

Diabetes and Ice Cream Making Healthier Choices image 1 jpeg diabetes blue circle with blood drop in centre white background frosted fusionsIn the past, being diagnosed with diabetes often meant severely limiting or even completely avoiding sweet treats due to the potential impact on blood sugar levels.

The limited understanding of diabetes and its management led to a perception that indulging in any form of sugary delight was off-limits.

Thanks to advancements in medicine, better education about diabetes, and creative cooking methods, people with diabetes now have more choices for enjoying sweet treats without causing major blood sugar spikes.

Alternative sweeteners, carefully crafted recipes and sugar substitutes have emerged, allowing individuals with diabetes to enjoy frozen delights without compromising their health.

Diabetes, Ice Cream and Sorbet.

That’s probably not a collection of words you’d expect to read or hear. Diabetes, Ice Cream and Sorbet!

Surely those who have diabetes can’t enjoy Ice Cream or Sorbet? They’re full of sugar, right? Thankfully, even for individuals with diabetes, the pleasure of indulging in ice cream and sorbets can be a reality.

Traditional recipes are full of sugars that can be harmful to blood sugar levels. However, there’s a new wave of diabetic-friendly ice cream recipes now available. These options have less sugar or are completely sugar-free and are often sweetened with things like stevia or erythritol (we’ll discuss these both further in the article). These alternatives are perfect for people managing diabetes who want to enjoy frozen treats without worrying about their health.

In addition, there are now ice creams and sorbets made with fewer carbohydrates and more fibre, which means they have a smaller impact on blood sugar. By choosing these innovative alternatives, individuals with diabetes can still enjoy the same cool and refreshing frozen desserts while having better control over their blood sugar levels and overall health.

The Problem with Refined Sugars

The issue of refined sugars is a significant concern for individuals with diabetes.

Diabetes and Ice Cream Making Healthier Choices image 2 jpeg stack of sugar cubes white background frosted fusions

Refined sugars, often added to processed foods and beverages, can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels due to their quick absorption by the body. This can pose challenges for diabetes management, as frequent fluctuations in blood glucose levels can contribute to health complications over time.

Refined sugars offer minimal nutritional value beyond providing empty calories. They lack the fibre, vitamins, and minerals present in whole foods, which are essential for overall health and well-being.

Consuming too much-refined sugar can also contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially when combined with a sedentary lifestyle.

Given these concerns, individuals with diabetes are encouraged to limit their intake of foods and drinks high in refined sugars. This includes sugary snacks, sugary beverages, and many processed and packaged foods.

Please see our article – Balancing Flavour and Health: Natural Sweeteners and Homemade Ice Cream – which provides more information on the use of alternative sweeteners.

Instead, focusing on whole, nutrient-dense foods and choosing sweeteners with lower impacts on blood sugar, such as natural sugar substitutes like stevia or erythritol, can help mitigate the challenges posed by refined sugars.

Consulting with healthcare professionals or registered dietitians can provide tailored guidance on managing sugar intake to maintain stable blood sugar levels and overall health.

Stevia and Erythritol

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Stevia and erythritol are two popular sugar substitutes commonly used in diabetic-friendly and low-calorie foods.

Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant (also known as Candy leaf due to its natural sweetness). It contains compounds called steviol glycosides that provide a sweet taste without raising blood sugar levels.

Stevia is considered many times sweeter than regular sugar, so only a small amount is needed to achieve the desired sweetness. It has gained popularity as a zero-calorie sweetener and is often used in various food products and beverages marketed to diabetics and those watching their sugar intake.

===>Click here to see a selection of Stevia products.

Erythritol, on the other hand, is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods. It has a sweetness similar to sugar but contains significantly fewer calories and has a minimal impact on blood sugar levels.

Erythritol is often used as a bulk sweetener in sugar-free and diabetic-friendly products because it doesn’t cause the digestive issues that some other sugar alcohols might. It provides a pleasant sweetness without the bitter aftertaste that can be associated with some artificial sweeteners.

===>Click here to see a selection of Erythritol products.

Both stevia and erythritol are considered safe for most people when consumed in moderation. They offer a way to enjoy the sweet taste without the negative effects of traditional sugar on blood glucose levels, making them valuable options for individuals with diabetes.

Natural Sugars: Pros & Cons

Naturally occurring sugars, found in whole foods like fruits and dairy products, come with both pros and cons for individuals with diabetes. On the positive side, these sugars are often accompanied by fibre, vitamins, and minerals that contribute to overall health. They are generally absorbed more slowly by the body, leading to a slower rise in blood sugar levels compared to refined sugars.

This can help prevent sharp spikes and crashes in blood glucose, which is important for diabetes management. However, even natural sugars can impact blood sugar levels, and portion control is crucial.

While fruits contain natural sugars, they can also be high in carbohydrates so it is essential to be mindful of portion sizes and to choose whole fruits over fruit juices or dried fruits, as the latter can be concentrated sources of sugar.

For dairy products, the naturally occurring lactose sugar may also affect blood sugar, so choosing lower-fat options can help manage sugar intake.

Diabetes and Ice Cream Making Healthier Choices image 4 jpeg sugar and fruit balancing on scales white background frosted fusionsBalancing the benefits and potential impact of naturally occurring sugars is a key aspect of managing diabetes.

Incorporating them into a well-rounded diet, considering their nutritional value and impact on blood sugar levels, can help individuals with diabetes make informed and healthful choices.

Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalised guidance on including naturally occurring sugars within a diabetes-friendly eating plan.

Striking the Sweet Balance: Navigating Sugars and Sweeteners with Diabetes

For individuals with diabetes, finding the right balance when it comes to sugar intake is crucial.

Refined sugars, often found in processed foods and sugary treats, can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, posing challenges for managing diabetes.

Natural sugars, found in whole foods like fruits, offer important nutrients and fibre that slow down sugar absorption, supporting more stable blood sugar levels.

To navigate this balance, people with diabetes must be mindful of their overall carbohydrate intake, which includes both natural and added sugars.

Natural sugar substitutes like stevia and erythritol can be used in moderation to provide sweetness without impacting blood sugar levels significantly.

By choosing whole, nutrient-dense foods and incorporating sensible portions of naturally occurring sugars and alternatives, individuals with diabetes can enjoy satisfying flavours while promoting better blood sugar control and overall health.

It’s essential to work closely with healthcare professionals or registered dietitians to develop personalised strategies for managing sugar intake, monitoring blood glucose levels, and making informed dietary choices.

Crafting Your Own Diabetic-Friendly Ice Cream.

The great news is that even as a person living with diabetes, you can create your very own diabetic-friendly ice cream without compromising on flavour or more importantly, your health.

By using alternative sweeteners, carefully chosen ingredients, and focusing on portion control, you can indulge in the pleasure of a frozen treat while managing your blood sugar levels.

Crafting your own ice cream at home allows you to have full control over the ingredients and their quantities, making it easier to tailor the recipe to your dietary needs. With a little creativity and the right guidance, you’ll find that you don’t have to miss out on the joy of enjoying a delicious frozen dessert while maintaining your health and well-being.


Diabetic-Friendly Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream.

Here’s our recipe for a Diabetic-Friendly Strawberry Ice Cream:

Diabetes and Ice Cream Making Healthier Choices image 5 jpeg strawberry ice cream in glass dish with spoon and fresh strawberries scattered around frosted fusions

Ingredients:

  • 250g fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • 125ml unsweetened almond milk (or any preferred milk substitute – coconut, oat, soy or rice all work)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons stevia or erythritol (adjust to taste)
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Place the chopped strawberries in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set a handful of the chopped strawberries aside to add at a later stage.
  2. Add the almond milk, vanilla extract, stevia or erythritol, and a pinch of salt to the blender. Blend again until all ingredients are well combined.
  3. Taste the mixture and adjust the sweetness if needed by adding more sweetener.
  4. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions until it reaches a soft-serve consistency.
      1. NB: If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can still make this recipe. Pour the mixture into a freezer-safe container and freeze. Every 30 minutes, stir the mixture vigorously with a fork to break up ice crystals, repeating this process for about 3-4 hours or until the ice cream is firm. Please also check out our post – Homemade Ice Cream: Without an Ice Cream Maker to learn more.
  5. If desired, you can stir in a handful of chopped fresh strawberries to add a little texture and a burst of strawberry flavour.
  6. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container, cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 2-3 hours or until it’s firm.
  7. Before serving, let the ice cream sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften slightly for easier scooping.

Enjoy your homemade diabetic-friendly strawberry ice cream guilt-free!

Note: This recipe uses strawberries, which are relatively low in natural sugars and have a lower glycemic index compared to some other fruits.

However, portion control is still important for managing blood sugar levels. As always, it’s a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before making significant changes to your diet, especially if you have diabetes or other health conditions.

Most kitchens will have the majority of items needed to make Homemade Ice Cream, Gelato, Sorbets, Frozen Yoghurts, Ice Lollies and Diabetes-friendly Ice Cream, but should you find you are missing any equipment, be that mixing bowls, fine mesh sieves, or ice lolly moulds, then please head over to our post – What do you need to make Homemade Ice Cream? – which lists all the items you might need along with some useful links.

Moderation is Key.

While diabetic-friendly ice creams can be a satisfying treat for those managing their blood sugar levels, it’s important to enjoy them in moderation. Even though these ice creams are made with alternative sweeteners and lower-glycemic ingredients, they still contribute to your overall carbohydrate intake.

Monitoring portion sizes and incorporating them into a balanced meal plan is key.

Remember that individual responses to foods can vary, so testing your blood sugar after trying new treats can help you understand how they affect your body.

Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can also provide personalised guidance on incorporating diabetic-friendly treats into your diet while maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.

We truly hope that you have enjoyed reading our article discussing Diabetes and finding ways to create a diabetic-friendly frozen delight. Click on the following link for more detailed information about Diabetes.

If you have any questions, please do drop us a comment below and if you are someone living with diabetes and found this article of value, we would especially love to hear your thoughts.

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2 Comments

  1. Excellent post, very informative. Being a T2D myself, I can’t wait to try this strawberry ice cream recipe. Thank you 🙂

    • Hey Annette,
      Thanks for dropping by and for your comment.

      Really happy that our article resonated with you and really really happy that as someone living with Type 2 Diabetes, this recipe appealed to you.

      It must be hard living with a chronic illness that limits your sweet treats options and that’s why we wanted to show you and others living with Diabetes that Ice Cream isn’t entirely out of reach. With some adjustments and moderation, you can still enjoy!

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and it goes without saying that we’d absolutely love to hear from you on how your Diabetes-friendly Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream turns out.
      All the very best
      Cherie :o)

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