Best Ice Cream for Type 2 Diabetes

Ice cream does not have to be strictly off limits for people with type 2 diabetes. While it is still best to enjoy ice cream in moderation, there are ice cream and frozen yogurt choices out there that will not derail a healthful diet.

People with type 2 diabetes have more to think about than simply ruining their diet with ice cream. Their main concerns are about how ice cream will affect their blood sugar levels, since controlling this is critical to managing diabetes.

While people with diabetes can include ice cream as part of their healthful diet, it is important for them to make informed decisions about what ice creams they should eat.

Understanding ice cream sugar servings

[ice cream cheers]
Ice cream can be a delicious treat, but people with diabetes need to be particularly careful about which ice cream they eat.

Most ice cream has a lot of added sugar, making it something a person with diabetes should avoid. Because of this, one of the first things they should consider when choosing an ice cream is the sugar content.

People with diabetes need to understand how their ice cream indulgence fits into their overall diet plan. Here are a few facts for people with diabetes to consider:

  • Every 4 grams (g) of sugar is equivalent to 1 teaspoon. The more sugar that is in the ice cream, the more carbohydrates it has.
  • An ice cream serving with 15 g of carbohydrates is equal to 1 serving of carbohydrates. Any carbohydrates in ice cream will count towards the total carbohydrate goal for the day, which will be different for each person.
  • Protein and fat found in ice cream can help slow absorption of sugar. Choosing an ice cream higher in protein and fat may be preferable to choose a lower fat option.
  • A suitable portion of ice cream for somebody with diabetes is very small, usually half a cup. But most people serve much more than this. It is crucial that a person with diabetes sticks to the proper portion size, so they know exactly how many carbohydrates they are eating.

Things to look out for when choosing an ice cream

When it comes to picking out ice cream, the number of choices offered at a grocery store can be overwhelming. There are a number of brands and dozens of flavors to choose from. Here are some considerations for picking out ice cream at the local store:

Low sugar

The best ice cream for a person with diabetes has the lowest sugar content per serving without relying on artificial sweeteners. To check the amount of sugar in ice cream, look at the total number of carbohydrates on the nutrition label and the ingredient list.

For someone with diabetes, the best choice is an ice cream with less than 20 g total carbohydrates in a half- cup serving.

[reading a label at the grocery store]
Labels can be confusing or even deliberately misleading, so it is important to read them carefully.

Confusing labels

Almost every brand of ice cream has lots of marketing information on the container, which is designed to catch the eye.

People with diabetes may find a product that says reduced sugar or half the calories of regular ice cream. Although the claims may be true that the particular product has less sugar than another variety, the actual sugar content may still be much higher than recommended per serving amount.

Fat and protein level

The amount of protein and fat in the ice cream can have a direct impact on how fast sugar is absorbed in the body. In general, if the fat and protein contents are higher than average, the sugar from each serving will be absorbed more slowly.

Best ice creams for people with diabetes to eat

With so many brands to choose from, it can be hard to determine which are best for people with diabetes. The following are a few brands and flavors to choose from that are better overall choices:

  • Blue Bunny Ice Cream offer two options – vanilla and chocolate. Both contain less than 20 g of carbohydrates per serving.
  • Breyers offer a vanilla ice cream called Smooth and Dreamy ½ Fat Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream. It contains minimal fat and 17 g of total carbohydrates. Breyers offer a similar product in chocolate as well, also with 17 g of total carbohydrates. Breyers also offer some no-sugar-added flavors. However, these varieties contain multiple artificial sweeteners and are not recommended.
  • Schwan’s offer a chocolate ice cream flavor, which contains 18 g of total carbohydrates.
  • Edy’s offer several varieties of their slow-churned ice creams, which contain around 20 g or less of carbohydrates per serving.
  • Halo Top offer ice cream flavors with additional protein. The addition of protein helps to slow down the absorption of sugar into the blood, making it a good choice for people with diabetes.

How to make room for ice cream in a diet

A recommended serving of carbohydrates in ice cream is 20 g or less. This equates to roughly one serving of carbohydrates in a day.

People with diabetes who are following a strict diet where carbohydrate servings count, must count every carbohydrate they eat. Those planning on eating a serving of ice cream for dessert should make sure they eat one less carbohydrate serving during the day. Substituting a sandwich with a lettuce wrap or salad could do this.

Saturated fat content is also high in some ice cream brands and flavors. Since people with diabetes have a higher risk of heart disease, it is a good idea to limit other saturated fat-containing foods on the day they plan to eat ice cream.

If eating ice cream is going to be a daily treat, it is important to talk to a dietitian about how to fit it into a dietary plan.

Other sweets and dessert options

Diabetes-friendly desserts are available in most stores and can be made at home as easily as any other desserts. Some things to consider when looking for other sweet options include:

  • Total carbohydrate contents per serving: Just 15-20 g is considered one daily serving of carbohydrates.
  • Total protein: The amount of protein in a dessert can help slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
  • Use of natural sweeteners: Although artificial sweeteners are readily available in most stores and in many light and no-sugar-added ice cream options, they are not highly recommended in the medical community.

Some ready-to-eat options for dessert include:

Frozen yogurt

[frozen yogurt with berries]
While frozen yogurt may seem like a more healthful option, it often contains just as much sugar as regular ice cream.

Some people consider frozen yogurt and ice cream to be the same, while others recognize their differences. Frozen yogurt is often sold in fat-free varieties, which is a good option when compared to some ice creams where a single serving can be around a third of total fat needs.

However, the nutritional information in frozen yogurt needs to be looked at carefully. Frozen yogurt may also contain just as much, if not more sugar and therefore carbohydrates, as ice cream. This may be to make up for the lack of flavor and texture that the fat would give it.

Pudding and gelatin

There are many brands that offer sugar-free or fat-free versions of these dessert options, although they may still contain artificial sweeteners. It is important to check the nutritional facts to see how they fit into the overall diet for the day.

Homemade baked goods made with stevia

Many baked goods, such as cookies, brownies, cakes, and so on, use stevia in place of sugar in their recipes.

This natural, zero-calorie sweetener offers a great substitute for sugar that can reduce the carbohydrate impact of a favorite baked treat.

Conclusion

When it comes to ice cream, the best advice for people with diabetes is to understand carbohydrate serving sizes, the amount in a serving of ice cream, and how much impact it is going to have on the day.

It is always a good idea to take a walk after eating a dessert to help lower post-meal blood sugar.

For people working with dietitians to develop a meal plan, it is important to talk about possible issues with adding ice cream to the diet, or ways to make it work. In any case, with the right research and sacrifices, ice cream can be a part of a regular diet.

Best Snacks For People With Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes can lead to a wide range of symptoms including high blood pressure, circulation issues, kidney damage, blindness, and skin problems. But the right diet can help manage these symptoms.

Healthful snacks for people with diabetes can keep blood sugar in check. They may also help reduce the severity of diabetes symptoms such as high blood pressure.

Eating right can feel daunting, particularly at first, but people with diabetes can continue enjoying a wide range of snacks.

Foods high in protein

High-protein foods include nuts, legumes, animal products such as eggs and cheese, and alternatives to meat such as tofu and mushrooms.

[bowls of humous]
Hummus, which is made from chickpeas, makes an excellent protein-rich snack.

Healthful snacks for people with diabetes that are satisfying and rich in protein include:

  • roasted chickpeas
  • apples or celery with almond butter
  • almonds, walnuts, or pistachios
  • trail mix, particularly if it doesn’t contain sweetened ingredients
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • turkey or smoked salmon roll-ups
  • plain yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt
  • low-sodium cottage cheese mixed with fresh fruit
  • diced avocado and cherry tomatoes
  • snap peas or other raw veggies with hummus

Several of these options can work well as both sweet and savory snacks. Honey-roasted chickpeas provide a good balance of sweet and savory. Nuts can be paired with slices of cheese or dried fruit. Adding nuts or fruit can also make yogurt sweeter or more savory.

For the turkey roll-ups, people can use thinly sliced turkey or lettuce to replace the pita. Adding hummus and vegetables makes for a hearty snack.

High-fiber snacks

Vegetables, legumes, and nuts are excellent sources of fiber. Whole grains, oats, and some fruits are as well.

People with diabetes can try some of these high-fiber snacks:

[yogurt with granola and figs]
Plain yogurt with oats and fruit, such as figs, is a high-fiber snack that can help a person feel full longer.
  • smoothies blended with high-fiber, non-starchy vegetables
  • sprouted, whole-grain bread
  • whole-grain or bean pasta
  • oatmeal, mixed with fresh berries or sliced banana for additional sweetness and fiber
  • avocado slices
  • figs dipped into Greek yogurt
  • kale or spinach chips, which can satisfy a chip craving without the added sodium and fat
  • carrots dipped in hummus offer protein and fiber in a low-sodium snack
  • sweet potato foods, including baked sweet potato fries, cooked whole sweet potatoes, or sweet potato toast

To sub sweet potatoes for toast, people should toast thinly sliced sweet potato for three or four cycles and top with regular choices of toppings.

People who dislike spinach, kale, or wheat grass can hide their tastes by adding sweet or citrusy fruits such as oranges and mangoes to smoothies while still getting high-fiber nutrition.

Whole-grain bread and bean pasta are an excellent way to manage carbohydrate cravings. To increase their nutritional value, people can try adding almond butter to whole-grain bread or eating high-fiber bean pasta mixed with vegetables.

Snacks for diabetes: The basics

Healthful snacks for people with diabetes promote feelings of fullness, reducing any urges to snack on unhealthy packaged foods and sweets. There are healthful foods in every food group, so there’s no need to feel like diabetes means foregoing enjoyable food.

No single snack is perfect, and no food can provide perfect nutrition. That is why it is important to eat a wide variety of foods and to try a range of snacks.

Healthful snacks for people with diabetes will offer one or more of the following benefits:

High fiber

High-carbohydrate diets can elevate blood sugar levels. Fiber, which is a carbohydrate, is an exception to this rule, however.

[oats on a wooden spoon]
Oat bran is high in soluble fiber, which helps control blood sugar levels.

Fiber comes in two main varieties, both of which are good for people with diabetes.

Soluble fiber is found in high levels in oat bran, legumes, and some fruits. This type of fiber controls blood sugar levels and can lower cholesterol.

Insoluble fiber is found in high levels in wheat bran and many fruits and vegetables. It can relieve constipation and may reduce the risk of cancer.

Because fiber is digested slowly, it can increase feelings of fullness. This makes it an ideal snack component that can prevent overeating.

People with diabetes should consume 25 grams (g) or more of dietary fiber each day.

Low sugar

Sugary foods can elevate blood sugar and cause weight gain. Sweets such as cookies, cupcakes, and candy are obvious sources of high sugar.

People with diabetes also need to be mindful of carbohydrates, such as those found in bread, pasta, fruits, vegetables, and many other foods. Carbohydrates aren’t bad on their own, but keeping carb intake low can control blood sugar.

Drinks such as soda, sweetened fruit juices, and alcohol also contain high levels of sugar. Adding these beverages to an otherwise healthful snack can cause blood sugar levels to spike.

High protein

Protein supports feelings of fullness between meals. It is the body’s building block, supporting healthy muscles, organs, and skin.

While everyone needs protein in their diet, protein is particularly important for people who are physically active or who lift weights. The average person needs at least 0.36 g of protein per pound of body weight per day. This works out at 56 g a day for the average man and 46 g a day for the average woman.

However, research generally suggests that people should consume even more than these minimal amounts. A 2005 study found that women who increased their protein intake to 30 percent of total calories a day ate 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost weight during the 12 weeks. There was no follow-up to confirm if those women maintained the weight loss, however.

Increasing protein intake may support healthy weight loss and reduce unhealthy snacking.

Low sodium

[man pondering his options at the supermarket by stroking his chin]
A large percentage of sodium intake comes from salt added to processed foods, so reading the nutritional label is important.

A low-sodium diet can lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.

While reducing the use of table salt can help, as much as 75 percent of sodium intake comes from salt processed foods rather than adding salt to meals.

Portion control

No matter how healthful a snack is, eating too much of it can lead to unhealthy weight gain. This may disrupt blood sugar levels.

Consulting a snack’s nutrition facts makes it easier for people to eat a single serving. Nutrition facts also provide information about calorie, protein, sugar, and carbohydrate content.

Other tips for healthful snacking

Healthful snacking with diabetes is not just about choosing the right foods. Knowing which foods to avoid, how to manage cravings, and how fluid intake affects appetite is also vital.

The following strategies support healthful snacking with diabetes. People should aim to:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Thirst can feel like hunger, and drinking water can support feelings of fullness.
  • Limit consumption of sodas, sweetened juices, and other sweetened drinks. Coffee and tea are fine in moderation, but adding sugar, cream, and other flavoring agents can elevate blood sugar.
  • Limit processed and prepackaged foods. This is the simplest way to reduce sodium and sugar intake. Stick to the refrigerated sections of the grocery store and avoid most of the freezer sections.
  • Space meals evenly throughout the day to avoid blood sugar dips and spikes. It is preferable to eat five to seven small snacks or meals instead of three large meals.
  • Avoid fried foods, particularly fried meats.