A Sweet Valentine's Day For Diabetics

A Sweet Valentine's Day For Diabetics

Our editor, Dan Kamys, recently got to interview Katherine Downes, a registered dietitian from The Visiting Nurse Service of New York. Here, she answers some questions regarding how diabetics can have a sweet Valentine's Day with their loved ones without sugar.

Dan: Valentine's Day is known for being the sugariest holiday we have. There has to be a way for diabetics to sweeten up Valentine's Day without adding sugar. What are some of the ways you propose they do that? 

Katherine: Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose or stevia, can be used in recipes to add sweetness with out calories or carbohydrates but are typically used in foods of little nutritional value such as cakes or cookies; therefore, these foods should still be eaten in moderate portions. 

Dan: So what are some of the treats you suggest that diabetics look forward to on Valentine's Day? Are baked goods something they should go for?

Katherine: Instead of baked goods, try fresh strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. The strawberries offer fiber and Vitamin C and the dark chocolate is rich an antioxidants. An appropriate serving size for diabetics would be 2-3 large chocolate covered strawberries.

Dan: Wow, that sounds good to me. Many people often prepare meals for one another on Valentine's Day. If someone is cooking for a diabetic, what would be a good dinner idea?

Katherine:  A healthy meal for diabetics contains a heart healthy protein, non-starchy vegetable and fiber rich carbohydrate. An example would be broiled salmon with roasted brussel sprouts accompanied by brown rice with toasted almonds.

Dan: We have to get to gifts. What about the gifts? Candy is usually the go-to, but are there any alternatives that are good for people with diabetes?

Katherine: Try a non-food treat for diabetics, ideally a gift that involves physical activity. For example, treat your loved one to an afternoon of ice-skating. Physical activity can lower blood sugars, improve insulin sensitivity and strengthen the heart.

Dan: But what about the chocolate? They have to have the chocolate! Is there anything people should consider regarding chocolate or candy choices for Valentine's Day?  

Katherine: "Sugar free" chocolates should be eaten in moderation. Most contain sugar alcohols, such as erythritol, glycerol, isomalt, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol among others, which can, when eaten in excess, cause gastrointestinal upset. 

Special thanks to Katherine Downes of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. May everyone, including diabetics, have a great Valentine's Day!

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