Can diabetics eat ice cream? Diabetics can eat ice cream in limited amounts and only infrequently. While they can eat very small amounts of regular ice cream occasionally, it’s better they choose ice cream varieties especially designed for diabetics. For example, low-carbohydrate, low sugar ice creams are especially formulated for people who need to manage their blood sugar levels. Just as important, everyone with diabetes should first read the label for nutritional information such as amount of sugars, total carbohydrates, fats and protein. Then determine how much or how little ice cream they can eat without exceeding their individual recommended carbohydrate, sugar and calorie intake. This is an important step in preventing blood sugar spikes and long-term side effects. If you are unsure about whether or not you can eat ice cream or what ice cream is best for diabetics, see your doctor for advice.
Diabetes is a disease of the metabolism. What this means is that the body is experiencing difficulty in processing sugar into energy. So a diabetic person must monitor their intake of sugar in all forms. This includes both simple sugars (glucose, fructose, galactose), sugar combinations (sucrose, lactose, maltose) and carbohydrates that are broken down by the body into simple sugars (starch). In relation to food, a diabetic person must observe the sugar content and total carbohydrate content per serving to be able determine how much of said food they can eat safely, without experiencing side effects like spikes in blood sugar levels and associated feelings of unwell or complications due to diabetes.
Generally speaking, is ice cream good for diabetes? The answer is no, ice cream is not a good food option for a diabetic person. Not regular ice cream and not even some low-fat, low-carbs, low-sugar, low-calorie varieties. Here is why:
1) Ice cream is generally high in added sugars which causes blood sugar levels to rise too quickly. Typical ice creams are over 10% sugar and some over 15% sugar.
2) Most ice creams have a slightly higher carbohydrate content than sugar and carbohydrates also contribute to blood sugar levels. Diabetics must also monitor their carbohydrate intake in addition to sugar to avoid blood sugar spikes.
3) Depending on the type of ice cream, brand and specialty, fat content is usually as high as sugar content. Both fat and sugar contribute to weight gain and this may cause complications with diabetes.
4) Some low-sugar, low-carbohydrate, low-fat, low-calorie ice creams may actually contain almost as much sugar, carbs, fat and calories as regular ice cream. So read the label and confront nutritional information to really know which ice cream is actually better.
5) Fruit toppings, chocolate syrup, caramel, whipping cream and anything sweet adds to the sugar and total carbohydrate content of the ice cream, making it even less healthy for a diabetic person.
6) It’s difficult to measure portions exactly and not exceed recommended amounts, especially if the ice cream is family pack or sold in a larger container. Not to mention it’s hard to limit intake to the very small amounts allowed in the diet of a diabetic person.
7) Choosing a serving of ice cream over a serving of fresh fruit can take away from a diabetic’s nutrition. Both a healthy person and a diabetic person is better off making healthy eating choices and when it comes to choosing between a serving of fruit or a serving of ice cream, fruit is always better because it provides antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The issue of good nutrition is especially important for a diabetic person as their limited intake of sugar and total carbohydrates also limits their intake of certain nutritious foods and food groups, such as fruits.
But despite the fact that it’s not a healthy food option, diabetics can eat ice cream and they can do so safely. You can eat ice cream with diabetes safely under the following conditions:
1) Eat very little and only infrequently. Ice cream is not a food fit for a diabetic person’s nutrition. It may only be consumed in limited amounts (small servings of 20 g or less) and only occasionally. A diabetic person shouldn’t eat ice cream every day and especially not multiple times a day.
2) Choose ice cream for diabetics. Avoid regular ice cream varieties. Instead, look for low-sugar, low-carbohydrates, low-fat and low-calorie ice cream varieties. There is also sugar-free ice cream with special sweeteners instead of regular sugar or corn syrup.
3) Read the label. Whatever the claims regarding the ice cream, always read the label for nutritional information. Find out sugar, total carbohydrate, fat and calorie content and determine how much you can eat so you don’t exceed your individual recommendations for these nutrients.
4) Avoid toppings. If you do eat ice cream, don’t add fruits, don’t add chocolate syrup, caramel, avoid whipping cream, biscuits and anything even remotely sweet. It will increase the sugar and total carbohydrate content of the serving and cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
5) Don’t eat ice cream on an empty stomach. The sugars in it will quickly be absorbed into the blood stream and cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Instead, you may enjoy a very small serving after a light protein meal. The protein and little amount of fat in it (it’s light protein after all) will slow down the absorption of sugar.
6) It’s either ice cream or fruit. Never both. Never at the same time. And never one after the other. Both ice cream and fruit are sources of sugar and will add to your daily intake. You can either have a small serving of ice cream or a serving of fruit.
7) Other options. Instead of ice cream, you can have a serving of fruit, such as apples or cherries. Or a small serving of frozen yogurt which is typically lower in sugar and fat (but you still need to look at the nutritional information to be sure). Or diabetic-friendly sweets such as pudding made with sweeteners such as stevia. There are other options out there and it’s good to be informed. Also see Can You Eat Cherries With Diabetes?
Conclusion: When it comes to diabetes and ice cream, there are many aspects to consider, including the severity of the disease, the current diet of the diabetic person, weight and general health status as well as the nutritional value of the ice cream (sugar, total carbohydrates, fat, protein, calories) and serving size. While you can eat ice cream with diabetes, that doesn’t mean you should. If you are finding it difficult to limit your sugar and total carbohydrate intake, are overweight or dealing with high cholesterol, then maybe it’s better you avoid ice cream altogether and choose healthier food options, at least until you sort out your diet, reach a healthier weight and learn to manage your condition.
If your doctor feels you can introduce ice cream in your diet, remember to limit intake to very small amounts and only eat it occasionally. Read the label for nutritional information so you don’t exceed your individual recommended intake of sugars, carbohydrates, fats and calories. This article reflects my personal opinion on the issue of whether or not you can eat ice cream with diabetes and does not substitute medical advice.