Expert Q&A

Ice Cream: Okay for Diabetics?

I just learned that I am diabetic. Can I still eat ice cream?

-Monica from Georgia

Even though it is okay for diabetics to eat sweets such as ice cream, I always stress caution, as these foods are usually very high in calories and can wreak havoc on your blood glucose control. Moreover, they add empty calories to your diet and provide little nutritional benefit.

With that said, if you decide to eat sugar or sweets, do so carefully. Do not merely add them, plan for them. The best way to do so is by first understanding how your blood sugar levels react to certain sweets. It is also a good idea to take your blood sugars before and after eating them.

If you want to have ice cream for dessert, wait 2 hours after dinner, during which time you can go for a walk. Then, check your blood sugars. Take the right amount of insulin or oral medication, and check your blood glucose 2 hours later. If your blood glucose is below 160mg/dl, you body should be able to tolerate a small dessert. Examine the nutritional facts on the carton, focusing on the carbohydrate count. You should aim for no more than 30 grams of carbs, which is usually equal to one-half cup.

It is easy to ingest far too many carbohydrates and calories when eating sweets. If you do eat foods that contain sugar, exercise a bit more than you usually do. This will help you burn off the extra calories and decrease the rise in blood sugars. In addition, many sugar-containing foods like ice cream and cookies are high in fat, so seek out low-fat, low-carb options.

It may be a good idea to work with an experienced dietitian or diabetes educator to develop a meal plan that is both satisfying and keeps your blood sugars in check.

Megan Porter, RD/LD
Contributing Expert

Have a question for our Experts? Send it in!