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Can you eat candy if you have diabetes?

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Sugar intake moderationPersonalized dietNutritious alternativesMedication optionsSummary
If you have diabetes, you can still eat candy. But you should consider limiting your sugar intake, eating it in moderation, and implementing your diet with nutritious food choices.
Medically reviewed by Ami Patel PharmD, BCPS
Updated on February 23, 2024

Having diabetes does not mean that you have to stop eating candy. You need to be mindful of several factors when you eat foods containing added sugars, as they can significantly affect your blood sugar levels.

It is okay to treat yourself to candy or other sugary foods occasionally, but managing your diabetes and blood sugar levels effectively is key. It is also important not to eat candy every day in excessive amounts but instead opt for a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

If you have diabetes and want to eat candy, there are several lifestyle measures that can be beneficial to keep in mind. They include:

Consuming sugar in moderation

A pile of assorted candy.
Mitch Diamond/Getty Images

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), you can still eat candy, chocolate, and other foods containing added sugars as long as you combine this with a balanced dietary plan. An example is to pair these carbohydrates with meals high in protein, unsaturated fats, and fiber. This means limiting your saturated fat, salt, and sugar consumption and instead choosing:

  • fruits
  • whole grains
  • non-starchy vegetables
  • lean protein
  • unsaturated fats

A healthcare professional such as a doctor or registered dietitian can advise you about how much sugar you can safely consume depending on your body weight, activity levels, and blood glucose levels.

Following a personalized diet plan

If you have diabetes, following a personalized diet and counting your daily carbohydrate intake may help you keep track of your blood sugar levels and manage diabetes more effectively.

Knowing how much sugar you eat during the day can help you understand if you can eat some candy as a treat or if it may be better to avoid it for the day. This can help prevent the risk of having increasingly high blood sugar levels and the complications linked to it, such as damage to the eyes, kidneys, or heart.

A dietitian can recommend the most appropriate dietary regimen for you to follow based on the severity of your diabetes and your overall health conditions.

Choosing nutritious alternatives

If you have diabetes, choose more nutritious snacks than candy, chocolate, biscuits, or other foods that contain added sugars.

Some options may include:

  • unsalted nuts
  • fruits
  • seeds
  • unsweetened yogurt
  • vegetables

Choosing snacks rich in nutrition instead of sugary foods can help you manage diabetes and your blood sugar levels.

Opting for sugar-free candy

If you have diabetes, a great alternative to regular candy is sugar-free candy, as it typically has a decreased effect on your blood sugar levels. Some sugar substitutes that can be found in certain sugar-free candies include:

  • stevia
  • aspartame
  • sucralose
  • neotame
  • saccharine
  • acesulfame-K

A 2022 study on sugar-free chocolate found that dark chocolate sweetened with stevia, erythritol, and inulin resulted in lower blood sugar levels than those achieved with traditional chocolate. However, it’s important to remember that sugar-free candy can still affect your blood sugars as it still contains carbohydrates and calories.

If you are trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight, eating sugar-free candy can still have a similar effect to regular candy. This is because sugar-free candy has similar fat and protein content to regular candy and has a high calorie content.

Medication options for diabetes

There are several treatment options that can help with diabetes. The treatment can vary depending on whether you have a diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Treatment options for type 1 diabetes

If you have type 1 diabetes, your body cannot produce or produces very little insulin, so the main treatment for your condition typically relies on taking insulin.

There are several different types of insulin that you may be prescribed, including:

  • Rapid-acting: It typically takes effect within 15 minutes and can last between 2 and 4 hours. A common example is insulin lispro (Humalog).
  • Short-acting: This typically starts working within 30 minutes, and its effect can last for about 3–6 hours. A common example is insulin glulisine (Apidra).
  • Intermediate-acting: The effect of this type of insulin starts in about 2–4 hours and can last around 12–18 hours. Intermediate-acting insulin is available under the brands Humulin and Novolin.
  • Long-acting: This drug starts to work in about 2 hours and can last up to 24 hours. An example of long-acting insulin is insulin glargine (Toujeo, Lantus).
  • Ultra-long-acting: Its effect typically begins within 6 hours and can last for 36–48 hours. Ultra-long-lasting insulin includes insulin degludec (Tresiba).
  • Premixed: This is a combination of rapid-acting and long-acting insulin that usually starts working within 30 minutes and lasts for up to 16 hours. Some examples of premixed insulin are Novolog 70/30 and Humulin 50/50.

Treatment options for type 2 diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes, it is possible to manage your condition through lifestyle measures such as:

  • eating a balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables
  • doing regular physical activity
  • limiting your consumption of foods containing added sugars and carbohydrates

But if this is not enough to manage your diabetes, a doctor may prescribe you medications to lower your blood sugar levels or improve your insulin resistance.

Examples of medication for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, such as acarbose (Precose) and miglitol (Glyset)
  • Biguanides, such as metformin (Riomet)
  • Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, such as alogliptin (Nesina) and linagliptin (Tradjenta)
  • Glucagon-like peptides, such as semaglutide (Ozempic) and exenatide (Byetta)
  • Meglitinides, such as nateglinide (Starlix) and repaglinide (Prandin)
  • Sodium-glucose transport protein 2 inhibitors, such as dapagliflozin (Farxiga)

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Summary

If you have diabetes, you can still eat candy. Sugar intake in moderation, keeping track of your daily calorie and carbohydrate intake, and choosing sugar-free candies can also help manage your diabetes.

While people with type 1 diabetes typically take insulin, if you have type 2 diabetes, then you can manage blood sugar levels through lifestyle measures and medications.

A healthcare professional will help determine what treatment plan is the most suitable for you based on your individual needs.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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