Dark chocolate resting on a brown paper towel on a wooden table.
Dark chocolate contains flavanols, which helps balance insulin levels.

Diabetic Friendly Desserts

If you have diabetes, you might think that desserts are off-limits. But that does not have to be the case. The type of dessert you choose is important to help you manage your condition and prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. Keep reading to learn more about how sugary desserts affect glucose levels and how to satisfy your sweet tooth while still managing your diabetes with diabetic friendly desserts.

The Dangers of Sweets and Desserts for Diabetics

Insulin, which is made by the pancreas, allows glucose from the foods you eat to get into the cells. People who have diabetes cannot produce enough insulin to help breakdown glucose. The result is glucose staying in the bloodstream, unable reach the cells. Over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to organ damage.

Eating causes an increase in blood sugar, but eating certain types of foods cause a greater and faster increase in glucose. For example, foods, such as sweets, contain simple sugars. Simple sugars are digested fast and may lead to a rapid increase in blood sugar.

Since many desserts contain high levels of sugar, they will make your glucose increase quicker than foods containing protein. Foods that may cause a rapid increase in glucose include:

  • Cookies
  • Cakes
  • Pastries
  • Candy
  • Ice Cream
  • Pies

What if You Eat Too Much Sugar?

If you have diabetes and eat too much sugar, it can lead to a spike in your glucose levels. Sugary foods are not the only type of food that can cause a rapid increase in glucose. Food that is high in refined carbohydrates, such as pasta and bread, can also lead to a spike in blood sugar. But foods high in sugar are also a culprit.


When someone with diabetes eats too much sugar, they might develop high glucose levels, which is called hyperglycemia. Symptoms of hyperglycemia can start when levels go too high.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of hyperglycemia usually do not start until a person has a glucose level of 200 milligrams per deciliter. But everyone with diabetes is different and may feel symptoms a little differently. For example, some people with diabetes do not develop symptoms until levels are even a little higher at about 250.

Early symptoms of a spike in glucose from eating high levels of sugar include:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
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If hyperglycemia is not treated and glucose levels continue to climb, it can become more serious and even lead to a life-threatening condition. When someone with diabetes has a spike in glucose and does not have enough insulin, glucose is not used for energy. Instead, the body breaks down fat, and a condition called ketoacidosis can develop.

Symptoms of ketoacidosis include:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain
  • Confusion
  • Weakness

Understanding how sugar can affect glucose levels and learning to recognize early symptoms along with careful blood sugar monitoring can prevent serious complications.

5 Desserts Tips for Diabetics

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends people with diabetes to limit sweets and desserts. But most people with diabetes can still have an occasional sweet treat. The key is making the right choice and maintaining moderation.

There is no specific dessert that is best for a diabetic. But there are several things to keep in mind when choosing something. Consider the following tips:

1. Eat Fruit

Although fruit contains sugar and can raise glucose levels, it usually has less sugar than desserts, such as cakes and cookies. Plus, the fruit has vitamins and minerals, which make it a better choice to satisfy your sweet tooth.

2. Consider Sugar-Free Pudding

Sugar-free desserts that contain artificial sweeteners can increase glucose levels, but they usually do not cause the spike that sugary desserts do.

3. Limit Desserts to Small Portions

Occasionally indulging in a sweet treat is probably acceptable for most people, but be sure to keep portions small and not overdo it.

4. Make Homemade Treats

When you make homemade desserts, you can swap out some ingredients for something that has less sugar. For example, use unsweetened almond milk instead of full-fat milk. Another option is to use non-fat plain Greek yogurt instead of cream for recipes.

5. Opt for Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains flavanols, which may help improve insulin levels. While you do not want to go overboard, a little dark chocolate is a better choice than milk chocolate for people with diabetes.

Worst Desserts for Diabetics

While no one dessert is off-limits for people with diabetes. Certain treats might not be your best bet. For example, desserts that are rich and contain multiple sugary ingredients, such as a hot fudge sundae or ice cream cake, are not a good choice.

Desserts with high levels of overall carbohydrates are also a poor choice. For instance, certain desserts also contain white flour along with sugar. Also, some desserts are deep-fried, which is also unhealthy. Poor dessert choices for diabetics include:

  • Donuts
  • Candy
  • Cinnamon buns
  • Toaster pastries