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Diabetes health centre

Having type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean always saying no to pudding. Life would be a bit boring without chocolate or apple crumble. You can still have an occasional sweet treat – just be mindful of what you choose and the amount you have.

The advice is the same for everyone else too. Having too many sweet puddings and desserts shouldn’t be part of any healthy eating plan, whether or not you have diabetes.

“We know that desserts and puddings that are high in free sugars and saturated fat are not needed in a healthy diet,” says Douglas Twenefour, deputy head of care at Diabetes UK. “However, there’s no evidence that the odd small slice of cake is going to massively affect the long-term health of someone with diabetes.”

He adds: “So our advice would be to only have puddings or desserts in moderation, with a small amount of your favourite treat every now and again, and plan for such treats.”

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Diabetes and diet

Even though more and more people in the UK have diabetes there’s still some misunderstanding about what you can eat.

It’s estimated that more than 4 million people in the UK are living with diabetes and the vast majority have type 2 diabetes. It’s now one of the most common long-term health conditions.

If you’ve just been diagnosed it can be confusing to know what you can and can’t eat. You will need to make changes to your diet to help control your condition and reduce your risk of long-term problems. What you eat affects your blood glucose levels, blood fat levels, your blood pressure and your weight. All these are important to control in order to minimise your risk of health problems associated with your diabetes.

Diabetes and sugar

Sugar is often seen as the bogeyman when it comes to diabetes but that’s not the whole story.

“There are no hard and fast rules, everyone is eating too much sugar, not just diabetics,” says diabetes dietitian Paul McArdle who’s a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.

“The focus tends to be too much on sugar rather than the amount of total carbohydrates people eat, which includes all the starches and sugars in food, be they natural or added,” explains Paul.

Starchy carbohydrates include pasta, bread, potatoes and breakfast cereals. Carbohydrate-based foods like biscuits, cake, chocolate and sweets contain both starchy carbs (the flour used to make them) and added sugars, too. Milk and fresh fruit contain natural sugars but in relatively small amounts.

Having a variety of foods at each mealtime helps to balance your carb intake with other important nutrients like protein and fats.

“If you want an occasional pudding just have fewer carbs in your main course, maybe half a portion of potatoes, to offset perhaps a small piece of cake for dessert,” advises Paul.

He says: “Think also about your total calorie intake. Eat quality products including wholegrains, healthy fats and oily fish and focusing more on your total carbs will help keep your blood glucose level stable.”

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