How This Helps

Everyone knows that sugar is bad for people with diabetes.1 Usually, even people who have diabetes firmly believe that ice cream is off-limits for them. Most ice creams contain super high amounts of sugar that can raise blood sugar levels rapidly. But there may be hope. When you have ice cream in moderation, it is not going to lead to any harm or cause any adverse side effect. People with type 2 diabetes can include small servings of diabetic ice cream as part of a balanced and healthy diet. When consumed in small servings, ice cream is not going to be dangerous for diabetics.

Can diabetics eat ice cream?

How to Include Diabetic Ice Cream in your Diet?

If you are a diabetic and love having ice cream, then here are some tips on how to incorporate it properly so that the risk of side effects is minimal.

1. Diabetic ice cream should be eaten along with a meal instead of having the ice cream later. Medical experts usually recommend this because the fiber and protein from your food will help keep your blood sugar in check.2 

2. If you have ice cream, then make sure to make certain dietary adjustments to your meal. For example, when you have had ice cream, then prefer to skip out on other food that contains carbohydrates during that day. Doctors recommend that the total amount of carbs should not go beyond a specific limit to avoid any spikes in blood sugar levels. 

3. Choose an ice cream that is low in carbohydrates. The best ice cream for diabetics is one that has less than 20 grams of carbs in half a cup of serving. Carbs will eventually add up to your total carb intake allowed for the day. So be careful while choosing which ice cream you want to have and stick to the correct portion size.

4. Choose an ice cream that is low in fat and high in protein. The consumption of protein will help in slowing down the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream.3 

5. The best ice cream for diabetics can only be had in very less portion size - just half a cup. It is essential to stick to this portion size so that you stay within the recommended limits of carb intake. 

6. Some ice creams are high in saturated fats. People with diabetes are at a high risk of developing heart disease. Limiting the intake of saturated fat on the day you have ice cream will lower your risk of heart disease.4

See: Herbs That Lower Blood Sugar

Key factors to think about

Considerations before eating ice cream

There are some tricks to satisfy your cravings and assist you with your goal to lower your blood sugar (glucose) and shed excess weight (which can be vital for diabetes management ). There are steps you can take to achieve a healthy balance.

1. Serving size

You can see on the Nutrition Facts label of your ice cream container that the serving size is a half-cup. It's the same size as those tiny single-serving containers of Jello pudding. So it's a good idea to not scooping out an entire cup, which can double the calories, the saturated fat, and the sugar that is listed on the label.

2. Control sugar intake

It's hard to know precisely how much additional sugar a serving of ice cream contains. The amount you see for grams of sugars on the Nutrition Facts label includes added sugars in addition to the naturally-occurring sugars in the fruit and milk ingredients.

3. Low-calorie ice cream

If you are considering fat-free ice creams and frozen yogurts that have 100 calories or fewer per serving, you are likely not getting more than 3 teaspoons of added sugar. But 3 teaspoons of added, refined sugar is still high especially if you're worried about your blood sugar levels and your weight.

The American Heart Association now recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women or 9 tsp for men for the full day. It is really tough to locate ice creams which are equally fat-free and sugar-free. With sugar-free ice creams, you are often getting a reasonable amount of fat, particularly heart-damaging saturated fat. So the better alternative, generally, is fat-free ice creams and frozen yogurts that maintain calorie count (and therefore additional sugars) relatively low.

3. Walk after dinner

Every day after dinner and dinner, go out to get a 20-minute leisurely walk. These after-dinner walks can help keep blood glucose levels low the next morning.

It is possible to eat frozen desserts occasionally in the event that you substitute them for other carbohydrates in your meal plan. These tips from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) can help you select:

a) View the serving size (1/2 cup). If you consume more, triple or double the nutrient information to maintain your count true.

b) View the fat content, especially saturated fat. Light ice cream contains about half the fat of the regular ice cream,. Keep in mind that fat-free ice cream still has sugar, carbohydrates & calories.

c) Check your blood sugar after eating a frozen dessert to realize how it affects you.


Have a look at the ice cream dietary guide for a 1/2 cup serving:

- Regular ice cream: 133 calories, 16 g carbohydrates, 7 grams saturated fat, 7 g fat

- Light ice cream: 100 calories, 14 g carbohydrates, 3 grams saturated fat, 4 g fat 

- Fat-free ice cream: 90 calories, 20 g carbohydrates, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 g fat

- No-sugar-added ice cream:100 calories, 13 g carbohydrates, 3 g saturated fat, 4 g fat

See: Are bananas good for diabetics

Best Ice Cream for Diabetics

If you must have that ice cream,  check out some of these best ice creams for diabetics. The NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive & Kidney Diseases) recommends that the average carbohydrate intake for diabetics should not exceed 45 to 60 grams per day.5 So if you have diabetes and you want to have ice cream, it is best to keep a count of the number of carbs you have eaten that day. Carbohydrates counting is essential in managing your diabetes.6

The following brands and flavors are said to be the best ice cream for diabetics as they will not increase your carb intake beyond what you should be having:

1. Breyers Creamy Vanilla - This brand of ice cream contains only 17 grams of total carbohydrates and minimal fat in each half-cup serving. The brand also offers certain flavors that have no added sugar. However, these flavors contain artificial sweeteners, which can again increase blood sugar.7

2. Lifeway Frozen Kefir Ice Cream - This ice cream is available in strawberry, mango, pomegranate, and original flavor. Per half-cup serving of this ice cream contains only 90 calories and 2.5 teaspoons of added sugars. There are zero grams of fat in the ice cream.

3. Wink Vanilla Bean Ice Cream - The Wink Vanilla Bean Ice Cream contains only 25 calories in ever half cup of ice cream and zero grams of added sugar. This is one of the best ice creams for diabetics as it has one of the lowest calories out of all the other brands out there. The ice cream is also enriched with fiber. It is sweetened with stevia, which is not going to harm your health.8

See: Beat Sugar Detox Symptoms and Feel Better

Summary

Being a sweet dessert, ice cream is known to contain high levels of carbohydrates. The recommended daily carbohydrate intake for diabetics depends on several factors and also varies from person to person. Nevertheless, people with diabetes are recommended to have a low-carbohydrate intake. If you want to have ice cream regularly, and you have diabetes, then it is best to talk to your doctor about what precautions you should take when you have ice cream.

See: Functional Medicine for Type 2 Diabetes

References

1. Janket, S. J., Manson, J. E., Sesso, H., Buring, J. E., & Liu, S. (2003). A prospective study of sugar intake & risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Diabetes care, 26(4), 1008-1015.

2. Anderson, J. W., Randles, K. M., Kendall, C. W., & Jenkins, D. J. (2004). Carbohydrate & fiber recommendations for individuals with diabetes: a quantitative assessment and meta-analysis of the evidence. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(1), 5-17.

3. Linn, T. H. O. M. A. S., Geyer, R. U. D. O. L. F., Prassek, S. Y. L. V. I. A., & Laube, H. E. I. N. E. R. (1996). Effect of dietary protein intake on insulin secretion and glucose metabolism in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 81(11), 3938-3943.

4. Barrett-Connor, E. (2003). Diabetes and heart disease. Diabetes Care, 26(10), 2947-2958.

5. Information, H., Overview, D., Diabetes Diet, &., Diabetes, C., Diabetes, C., Center, T. and Health, N. (2020). Carbohydrate Counting & Diabetes | NIDDK. [online] National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/diet-eating-physical-activity/carbohydrate-counting [Accessed 26 Jan. 2020].

6. Kawamura, T. (2007). The importance of carbohydrate counting in the treatment of children with diabetes. Pediatric diabetes, 8, 57-62.

7. Skokan, I., Endler, P. C., Wulkersdorfer, B., Magometschnigg, D., & Spranger, H. (2007). Influence of artificial sweeteners on human blood glucose concentration. The Scientific World Journal, 7, 1618-1621. 

8. Gandhi, S., Gat, Y., Arya, S., Kumar, V., Panghal, A., & Kumar, A. (2018). Natural sweeteners: health benefits of stevia. Foods and raw materials, 6(2), Gandhi-S.

See: Fake Sugar or Real Sugar For Diabetes & Obesity

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