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Living with Diabetes

Diabetes and chocolate - how to befriend the chocolate monster

4/3/2015 by Clara Huet

Diabetes and chocolate - how to befriend the chocolate monster

Chocolate has always had a special place in my life. This was true before my diabetes diagnosis and remains true today. Want proof? I was diagnosed on the very day of my 9th birthday and insisted on finishing my chocolate cake before going to the hospital.

At that time, the only chocolate my mom dared taking away from the house was the Nutella (which has, ironically, about the same sugar & fat content as milk chocolate, more on that below).

One thing that didn't disappear though were the Poulain chocolates, for which my sister and I created a cult loyalty and which were, by chance, rather dark. As I grew older, and my sister left the house, my mom's taste took over on the choice of chocolates. I started going for even darker varieties and have dedicated my love to them ever since.

This does spare me from the high sugar spike but doesn't let me dodge the fat – 'cause contrary to what you might think, dark chocolate is not much slimmer than any other one. In fact – myth busting time – dark chocolate actually tends to get fatter as it gets darker! Can't have only advantages, right?

Some cold, hard facts

So let's talk details. How do you mix diabetes and chocolate? Well, what's rule number one with diabetes? Understand more about what you're eating! With that in mind, here's an infographic about the sugar and fat content of typical chocolate.

Chocolate Infographic

What does that tell you about how to deal with chocolate? Well first, ladies and gentleman, one more piece of information to digest:

fat + sugar = slow sugar

So no hypo treatment from these, that's for sure! The glycemic index of most chocolates is below 50, which means they raise blood sugar slowly. And beware of chocolate candy bars, their glycemic index varies a lot from one another, so checking your favorite one before using it for hypos is recommended. My personal favorite, Mars, is around 90, so it's good. They can range as low as 21, which is really slow. This "glycemic index and diabetes" page from the American Diabetes Association is a great resource for learning more.

Another thing, the darker the chocolate is, the less sugar it usually contains. But as you saw in the infographic, that doesn't mean less fat. The good news is, the fat contained in the cocoa butter is quite ok for your health (it's a type of fat with low impact on cholesterol). The flavanols included may even contribute to good cardiovascular health.

Not all chocolates are born equal though. Quality matters. Avoid chocolates enriched with fat other than cocoa butter (like palm oil, which is way more impactful on cholesterol and arteries), fancy flavor mixes (added chamallow or stuffed with milky products) and all artificial aroma, coloring and so on. Better quality means a much nicer tasting experience, so you might as well make the effort. Fewer ingredients are better.

Diabetic Easter Egg - Does one fit best?

For this question, I had some fun preparing a small game for you. Before you start, you have to know that Easter Eggs are probably the most sugary chocolate you can find. I would recommend you get into the mastery of cover chocolate and create your own! It's much more rewarding and so much better for you.

The Game

The point of this game is to identify the brand of Easter Egg in the graphic based only on its nutritional qualities. Match the eggs with their brands and you're a champ! Here are the choices: - Cadbury's Creme Eggs - Ferrero Rocher Hazelnut Mini Eggs - Kinder Mini Easter Eggs

Easter Egg Hunt

Final words

Don't be tricked - there's no such thing as diabetic chocolate. It's better to get your hands on some great quality dark chocolate (aim for 70% cocoa or more) and enjoy it in moderation.

A bonus Pro Tip: chocolate mousse is a good alternative for filling homemade Easter Eggs (much lighter and just as tasty). And I'll leave you with these good words (cliché, but always good to hear): "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." – Forrest Gump Have a great Easter, Monster Tamers! And enjoy your chocolate bunny, 'cause diabetes or not, with moderation and some smarts, everything is allowed!

Solution: 1) Cadbury's Creme Eggs 2) Kinder Mini Easter Eggs 3) Ferrero Rocher Hazelnut Mini Eggs 

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The mySugr website does not provide medical or legal advice. mySugr blog articles are not scientific articles, but intended for informational purposes only.

Medical or nutritional information on the mySugr website is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a physician or health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Clara Huet

Clara Huet is a Product Owner at mySugr. She has been living with diabetes since 2001 when she got diagnosed right on her 9th birthday. She enjoyed participating in many (many) summer camps for young people with diabetes. With diabetes playing a big role in her life, she keeps on learning more about how to manage her therapy and how others deal with it every day. During interviews with our users to better understand their needs and struggles, she gets to know their tips and tricks to make diabetes suck less. 

You can read more from her in her article about Gamifying Entrepreneurship she wrote for The Heretic.