It's best to eat sugar in moderation. Eaten in larger amounts, sugar may have a more noticeable effect on your blood sugar. Sweet foods, such as candy, cookies and soda pop, also have little nutritional value. You receive empty calories devoid of the nutrients your body needs to function. In addition, those extra calories can lead to weight gain. The key with sugar is moderation, not deprivation. You can have your candy and eat it too as long as you:

  • Eat a reasonable amount, (Around 75 calories per day)
  • Eat it as part of a meal. Your body really can't tell the difference between sugars (simple carbohydrates) and starches (complex carbohydrates) when you eat them as part of a mixed meal with protein, fats and other nutrients.

For years, medical professionals assumed that sugars (simple carbohydrates) found in honey, candy and other sweets would raise your blood sugar faster and higher than fruits, vegetables or foods containing starches (complex carbohydrates). All carbohydrates affect blood glucose in about the same way. Sweets don't produce an exaggerated rise in blood sugar, provided they're eaten with your meals and counted as a carbohydrate.

Count candy as part of a meal. The easiest way to do this is to figure out the exchanges. Below are exchanges on some popular candies.

Exchange value
Chocolate kisses, plain7 pcs.160 calories
2 fat exchanges
1 starch exchange
Chocolate kisses with almonds7 pcs.160 calories
2 fat exchanges
1 starch exchange
Assorted chocolates, boxed2 pcs.160 calories
1 fat exchange
2 fruit exchanges
Truffles (Lindt)3 balls230 calories
3 fat exchanges
1 starch exchange
Pecan and caramel turtle1.25 oz.120 calories
3 fat exchanges
1 starch exchange
Lollipop1 lollipop60 calories
1 fruit exchange
Jelly Beans6 pcs.60 calories
1 fruit exchange
Red Hots1 oz.60 calories
1 fruit exchange
Frosted sugar cookies3 inch/1.5 oz.200 calories
1 fat exchange
1 starch exchange
1 fruit exchange

Exercise caution with regard to candy labeled "sugar-free." The sweetening agents (sorbitol, invert sugar, fructose, dextrose) in sugar-free candy still contain calories and must be counted as part of your meal plan. Also, foods labeled sugar-free may still be high in carbohydrates, fats and calories. Another problem is that some people are sensitive to sugar alcohol - a type of low-calorie sweetener used in some sugar-free candy - and may experience gas, bloating and diarrhea if their sugar intake exceeds 75 calories per day. Sugar alcohols include sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol.

Sugar travels under many guises, depending on how it's formed and how it's produced. Regular sugar is also called sucrose. Basic table sugars include:

  • Molasses
  • Beet sugar
  • Cane sugar
  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Maple syrup

Other kinds of sugars include:

  • Glucose (dextrose)
  • Fructose
  • Lactose
  • Maltose

Sugar alcohols include:

  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol
  • Mannitol

When you're shopping, look for these names on product labels. A sweet food may not simply state "sugar" on the label.