Can you eat chocolate with gestational diabetes?
Chocolate is a sweet treat that has added refined sugar and so many ladies may prefer not to push the boundaries and choose not to eat chocolate with gestational diabetes. Too much, or the wrong kind of chocolate can easily spike blood sugar levels too high.
However, for many it is an extremely hard thing to avoid and a small amount of the right kind of chocolate, paired well can be a safer small sweet treat that keeps blood sugar levels at safe levels.
Due to the fat in chocolate it means the glucose from it releases slower than some other sweets and sugary treats and it is for this reason that chocolate is no longer recommended to be used to raise blood sugar levels when insulin dependant diabetics are having hypos.
If you are a chocoholic who feels they will not be able to control the amounts eaten, then you may want to make the choice to abstain completely, or only buy chocolate in treat size amounts to prevent overindulging.
Chocolate can be eaten as a treat with gestational diabetes but here are a few tips to make it more tolerable:
- Control of levels - Only have chocolate treats if you have control of your blood sugar levels. If you are seeing erratic levels (high and/or low), then leave treats until you have gained better control first.
- Snack - Eat it as a 'snack', rather than straight after a meal so that you don't over eat too many carbohydrates at one time OR if eating straight after a meal bear this additional carb amount in mind!
- Quantity - Eat only small amounts of chocolate. If you struggle to be restrained with eating chocolate then purchase treat size individual bars so that you don't overindulge e.g. a Cadbury's Freddo which is 18g in weight and 10g total carbs, or the Green & Black's 35g 70% dark chocolate minature bars, or treat size chocolate buttons
- Be good - If you can be good, break larger bars into pieces and divide into ready-to-eat portions (around 20g-30g in weight) or just have a couple of indvidual chocolates or pieces at a time
- High cocoa - The higher the cocoa content, the less sugar it has and therefore is easier to tolerate, so dark chocolate is the best option
- No extras - Avoid chocolate with added caramel, honeycomb, nougat, dried fruit, hard crispy candy shells (like M&Ms or Smarties), sweet fondants (like creme eggs) e.t.c or white chocolate which are high in sugar
- Pair well - Pair chocolate with protein and fat to help slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Nuts and seeds, peanut butter, or almond milk make for great 'tools' for pairing chocolate
The darker the chocolate, the less sugar it has
the flavour can be very intense and bitter compared to chocolate you may be used to eating, so don't grab the highest 99% cocoa chocolate you see or you may end up spitting it out!
70% cocoa solids is a good starting point for dark chocolate and then you can work your way up, depending on how you like the taste.
Lindt produce a great range of dark chocolate, some with added extras such as sesame seeds or cacao nibs which increases the protein, fibre and fat content.
Diabetic and 'sugar free' chocolate with gestational diabetes
You can purchase diabetic and sugar free chocolate in many shops. You may think that this would be your perfect solution to a choccie treat, but tread with caution!
Diabetic, sugar free and no added sugar chocolates can be packed with high amounts of sweeteners (polyols or sugar alcohols) that can cause a laxative effect, bloating, wind and cramps. Eaten in small amounts this chocolate can supplement the GD diet but it can be pricey and not as pleasant or enjoyable as normal chocolate.
Diabetes charities have been campaigning for a long time to get these 'diabetic' treats off the market. To read more about diabetic specialist foods and this campaign, you can read more here. Finally we are started to see some recognition and some change around 'diabetic' chocolates and the likes of Thorntons have changed their products and marketing, but it should be noted that they are still adding sweeteners (sorbitol) to their current chocolate range.
Hotel Chocolat have a more sensible approach with some really good dietary advice and offer a range of lower sugar, high cocoa content chocolate, as well as low carb chocolate.
Hotel Chocolate chocolates do not contain sweeteners and state
We’ve always believed in ‘More Cocoa, Less Sugar’. If you’re wondering why other chocolate makers don’t, maybe it’s because sugar only costs a tenth of the price of even the cheapest cocoa. More quality cocoa means more satisfaction, without being too sweet.
If you are looking for a box of chocolates with 'diabetic chocolates' written on the lid, you won't find it here! What you will find is sound advice and a way to balance diabetes with the healthy pleasure of real chocolate.
So our advice is don't waste your money on 'diabetic' chocolates and sweets. We have seen ladies try these a few times and think that they are in labour after indulging. If you want a treat then stick to normal, good quality chocolate!
Melted chocolate goes much further!
Melting chocolate means that it seems to stretch and go much further and when on a diet where you are restricting treats, this may be a way for you to get more out of your chocolate with gestational diabetes.
A favourite treat of many, is melting some good quality dark chocolate and dipping nuts in it. These make for great sweet treat snacks that are ready paired! You could try this with seeds if you cannot eat nuts.
Get creative in the kitchen
Sugar Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
These little sweet treats from Brenda at Sugar Free Mom would make for a perfect gestational diabetes friendly treat which are a take on the Reece's peanut butter cups but without the high amounts of sugar!
Obviously you could adapt the recipe to use other nut butters if you cannot eat peanuts.
Take a look at the recipe here.
Hot chocolate with gestational diabetes
Another way of having chocolate with gestational diabetes is by having a hot chocolate as a 'snack'.
Try Options, Highlights or Choc Shot. Depending what milk you tolerate best (try doing a milk test, explained here) make your hot chocolate with full fat whole milk, almond milk, lacto free milk, soya milk, or coconut milk.
Top with Extra Thick Anchor squirty cream or whipped double cream.
Sign up to membership and get our famous Gestational Diabetes UK Brownies recipe!
Hold on tight to the GD wagon
Eating small amounts of chocolate with gestational diabetes means you will hopefully satisfying sweet cravings, but as you are doing this, your body will also make you crave sweet treats more.
Make sure you use the information above wisely to make the best choices for you and your baby, or it can be a slippery slide towards the one thing we are trying to avoid, high blood sugar levels.
If you are concerned about falling off the wagon by eating chocolate with gestational diabetes, then take a look at this page.