Being diabetic is immediately associated with diet restriction. In fact, several Americans chalk out their own diet, eliminating starchy foods and sweets from their meal plan entirely. The good news is—this is unnecessary. If you’re diabetic, you can have your chocolate and eat it too. Here’s how.

Balance It Out With Healthy Food
Lucille Hughes, director of diabetes services for Catholic Health Services of Long Island, says that persons with diabetes (PWD) can certainly eat chocolate, but they should stress on the importance of nutritive eating and making mindful choices that promote health. That means you can eat chocolate or any other sweet food, as long as it fits in your healthy meal plan.

Compensate Wisely
Many studies have shown that small amounts of chocolate are good for your health, as they contain antioxidants. Romy Block, Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago says that in case of diabetes, moderation is the key. If you wish to enjoy a piece of chocolate from time to time, you must count the carbohydrates in it and make sure you stay-put on your medication. Most diabetics are recommended to have about 45-60 grams of carbs at a meal and 15-25 grams as a snack. After all, carbohydrates help your body make energy. One half of a Hershey’s bar is about 12 to 15 grams of carbs, and it raises your blood sugar levels the same way that half a banana, half a cup of pasta, or one cup of milk would. Jill Weisenberger, author of Diabetes Weight Loss: Week by Week, also adds that if you use up the carbs from 15 grams of chocolate, then you should give up another food with the same amount of carbohydrate. Otherwise, your blood sugar will probably rise higher than usual. It’s all about compensating for the additional calories.

Dark Is Better
While choosing the chocolate, make sure you choose the dark variety. Studies suggest that dark chocolate and cocoa are good for the heart. This may help optimize the blood pressure, cholesterol levels and the markers of inflammation. Cocoa beans, from which chocolate is made, contain the same types of healthful compounds that are in fruit, vegetables and teas. They’re a group of health boosters called flavanols—the higher the percentage of cocoa solids, the greater the amount of flavanols.

Watch Your Portions
Exercise portion control. Individually wrapped chocolates, or a handful of chocolate-covered almonds are also quite healthy. Skip caramels, nougats and creams. These add calories, sugar and saturated fats to your meal, without any health benefits.

Additionally, engaging in mild physical activity can prevent blood glucose levels from soaring high. With that being said, all PWD should meet with a certified diabetes educator for an individual meal plan, and receive the personalized info one needs to lead a healthy life with diabetes.

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After pursuing her Masters in Journalism, Vanessa got her first big job as a health writer and since then, she has never switched paths. She has always been intrigued by the wonders of a holistic lifestyle, and believes it was destiny that led her to writing for the wellness industry. In her natural state, you can find her tucked under a blanket watching an Indie film, or reading obsessively. At Z Living, she writes about food trends and other daily life expeditions.