Fall has become one of the most anticipated and celebrated times of the year. We seem to love everything with pumpkin pie spice flavors, from seasonal creamers for coffee to sweet desserts galore, candy, and yes, pies. But what about those who must manage their blood sugar levels to maintain good health? Do they need to forego all the treats? Surely there must be a trick to managing treats!
One of the most important services we manage at Residences Senior Living is nutrition for the seniors who are aging in place at Residences at Deer Creek in Schererville and Residences at Coffee Creek in Chesterton. This calls for monitoring blood sugar levels, which we help our residents to accomplish through our 24/7 nursing staff. Accommodating special dietary needs is also a service we provide, whether on a daily basis or intermittent, after an illness. Put simply, it’s all about information and balance, then taking appropriate action.
We’ve found some great information that will help all ages find balance, whether parents limiting sugar intake of their children (or the grandparents), and how to proceed to a safe and happy Halloween and Fall season. We’re happy to share our findings for your convenience. Be advised your physician, local Diabetes Association, and internet sources provide an outpouring of ways to be safe, not sorry while enjoying a treat. Always check with your physician’s recommendations for you!
Tips for Creating Balance with Sweet Treats and Candy
We found consistently that basically the same candies are recommended as the most “diabetic –friendly” among many diabetes resource sites online. .”
The following are six of the most commonly recommended candies. Note, these are not the sugar-free candies. Diabetes Research Connection, for example, explains their list is “ideal for diabetic neighbors as well as healthier for kids in general:
Fun-sized candy bars—it appears that size matters! Obviously there is less sugar, carbs, and fat. The small Kit Kat bars are highly recommended: 7 grams sugar, 4 g fat, 9 g carb and only 70 calories.
Dark chocolate—it seems that’s the best chocolate as it is high in antioxidants that are of benefit to heart health. Recommended is Hershey’s Special Dark with Almonds Nuggets : 12 g sugar, 15 g carb, 150 calories.
Almond M&Ms—apparently healthier than regular M&Ms because the almonds, which are heart-healthy, take up space, reducing the sugar content of the chocolate. A snack size bag : 10 g sugar, 6 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 12 g carb, 110 calories.
Strawberry Twizzler Twists –one twist contains 5 g sugar, 0 g fat, 9 g carb and 40 calories.
Jolly Ranchers hard candies are also a great choice as 3 pieces equal 11 g sugar, 17 g carb, 70 calories.
Chocolate and Peanut Butter treats recommended lead us into the sugar-free variety. Sugar –free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are preferred as an option as four treats contain 22 g carb, no sugar, 145 calories.
The Question: Are Sugar Free Treats the Best Option for Diabetics?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the answer is “Yes, sugar-free hard candy is the best choice if you have diabetes.” At the same time cautionary advice is to check the carbohydrate information because carbs also contribute to increasing blood sugar levels.
Most larger companies offer a sugar-free alternative to those most beloved full-sugar candies we have all grown-up with. One newer company gaining popularity for their reduced sugar candy options, especially with those who are on special diets, such as Keto or low carb, is Smart Sweets which also boasts added fiber in addition to low sugar in their candies.
Another important question is How Much Sweets are Safe? The answer obviously depends great on each unique individual’s situation. An Insider article from 2017 recommends Smarties as the healthiest Halloween candy and offers a “Worst to Best for You” list. It also recommends that sugar, carbs, and calories are the best numbers to examine along with your own blood sugar levels. Serving sizes vary—these common labels are fun/snack/mini and the nutritional information and contents will also vary, so read labels!
Sugar-free or not, read the numbers/labels and again, talk with your physician!
Best Advice to Enjoy Halloween and Fall Treats If You Are Diabetic: Have a Plan
- Have a plan so in advance you figured out what’s best and what might be good sugar-free options; obviously, it’s good to have the person who has diabetes contributing to the planning.
- If you know there will be desserts and treats at a celebration, be sure to eat plenty of protein before attending as it takes longer to digest and therefore helps you feel fuller longer. Focus on lower calorie lean meats, cheese, nuts, yogurt, and eggs. You never want to be around sweet treats when you’re hungry!
- Know the carbs in advance if possible; labels will help.
- Save some candy for treating low blood sugar, although it is not to be used in an emergency.
- Balance your diet if you know in advance there will be tempting treats; consult your physician to find out what is safe for you.
Sugar Free Candy—Look for Sugar- Free or Zero Sugar Labels and Best Local Stores for Variety
If you’re thinking about buying sugar-free candy and you’re going to read the labels for carbs, there are many famous brands that offer the sugar-free or zero-sugar options of their products. York Patties, Caramel Nips, Mini Reeses Cups, even Gummi Bears and many more are now available in response to the health challenges of diabetes and health in general. Where to find them in Northwest Indiana is basically easy with the many big store chains such as Target, Walgreen’s, CVS, Walmart, Strack and Van Til, Jewel, just to name a few.
Stores dedicated to candy also offer the sugar alternatives, including Fannie May—located throughout the area, and in some communities there are specialty artisan shops such as Evolution at 901 Calumet Avenue in Valparaiso. Fannie May’s no sugar added assortment includes Pixies®, milk and dark chocolate covered caramels, nut clusters and creams.
Albanese Candy Factory Outlet, 5441 E. Lincoln Highway and also 1910 81st Avenue, both in Merrillville, offers the largest selection ranging from sweet and sour treats and gummies to chocolate varieties of many sorts. Healthy nuts are also available in abundance.
In Valparaiso, the new Rocket Fizz Candy Store franchise at 157 Lincolnway, also offers sugar-free candy. Check on-line for other small candy stores or shops offering artisan treats and outlets for makers such as South Bend Chocolates near you and make a call to see what’s available, as part of your plan.
After all, if Fall and Halloween are upon us, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and more holidays are coming soon!! Be safe and healthy and enjoy!