Diabetes at the Sugar Shack

You can still enjoy this Quebec tradition by maintaining proper control of your blood glucose (sugar) levels.

Warmer temperatures in March and April herald the arrival of the sugaring-off season. Do you go to a sugar shack with family or friends? Is this an outing you anticipate with pleasure or with dread?

Tips for celebrating the maple-sugar season

  • Stay within the prescribed amount of carbohydrates in your meal plan,
  • You will probably have to be selective in your food choices to avoid a rise in your glycemia, so opt for the foods you like the best.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated.
  • After the meal, get moving on the dance floor with your companions or take them out for a tramp in the woods!

Make informed choices!

It is easier to make smart choices when you know which foods are very high in carbohydrates. The table below indicates the approximate carbohydrate value of typical sugar-shack foods:

Food Serving size Amount of carbohydrates (g) Equivalent number of
sugar cubes*
Marinated beets 125 ml (½ cup) 5 1
Sweet pickles 7 slices 15 3
Pancake 1, 6 inches in diameter 20 4
Baked beans in lard 125 ml (½  cup) 30 6
Bread roll 1 (about 30 g) 15 3
Mashed potatoes 125 ml (½ cup) 15 3
Coleslaw 250 ml (1 cup) 15 3
Maple syrup 15 ml (1 tablespoon) 15 3
French Canadian pea soup 250 ml (1 cup) 15 3
Maple syrup dumplings ½ 60 12
Sugar pie 1/10 of the pie 60 12
Stick of maple taffy on snow 1 15 to 30 3 to 6

*1 sugar cube = 5 g of carbohydrates

These other foods served at sugar shacks contain very little or no carbohydrates:

  • pork cretons
  • ham
  • omelettes
  • sausages
  • crispy pork rinds (oreilles de crisse)

These foods should be eaten in moderation since they contain a great deal of fat, sodium (salt) and calories.

An overview of sugar-shack menus

Here are three examples of menus offered at sugar shacks and their approximate carbohydrate count:

Menu 1

45 g of carbohydrates

(9 sugar cubes)

Menu 2

65 g of carbohydrates

(13 sugar cubes)

Menu 3

75 g of carbohydrates

(15 sugar cubes)

250 ml (1 cup) French Canadian pea soup

2 to 3 slices of ham (½ cm thick)

1 omelette square

1 to 2 sausages

1 bread roll

15 ml (1 tablespoon) maple syrup

250 ml (1 cup) French Canadian pea soup

2 to 3 slices of ham (½ cm thick)

1 omelette square

1 crispy pork rind (oreille de crisse)

Coleslaw (1 cup)

1 pancake

15 ml (1 tablespoon) maple syrup

250 ml (1 cup) French Canadian pea soup

2 to 3 slices of ham (½ cm thick)

1 omelette square

½ cup baked beans in lard

A few marinated beets and pickles

1 stick of maple taffy on snow

True, it’s not always easy to eat a balanced meal at a sugar shack. However, you are not making a habit of it and will revert to your daily routine when you get home. So, enjoy the experience to the utmost!

Research and adaptation: Diabetes Québec Dietitian Team

February 2015 (updated on August 2018)

©All rights reserved Diabetes Quebec

Adapted from:

Messier, Michèle and Surprenant, Thérèse (Winter 2005). “Manger à la cabane à sucre 1,2,3 c’est parti… mais le plus près de 7 il faut viser…” Plein Soleil, Diabetes Québec, pp. 30-31.

Brisson, Véronique (Winter 2002). “Est-ce que les mots «cabane à sucre» font monter votre glycémie?” Plein Soleil, Diabetes Québec, p.33.

Other reference:

O’Gleman, Geneviève (2012), La Cabane à sucre et Pâques avec le diabète (French only text plus video), webpage consulted on January 5, 2015.