- Most sugar-free cookies will contain fewer carbohydrates than regular cookies.
- Because of their lower carbohydrate content, sugar-free cookies are less likely to raise blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
- Sugar-free cookies still contain carbohydrates, which is why it’s important to monitor your intake when managing your blood sugar.
Sugar-free cookies are a popular dessert option for people with diabetes because of their lower carbohydrate and sugar content. By swapping natural sugars for sugar alternatives, these desserts are less likely to spike blood sugar levels after eating.
However, there are still some factors to consider when selecting sugar-free cookies or desserts when you have diabetes. In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits and drawbacks of eating foods made with sugar alternatives and why it’s important to ensure that you eat regular, balanced meals as part of your overall diabetes management plan.
Nourish offers personalized nutrition counseling to help you customize your diet to meet your diabetes needs. If you’re ready to take the next step in your health, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian.
Sugar-Free Cookies and Diabetes
Sugar-free sweets, including sugar-free cookies, are made using sugar alternatives that don’t dramatically increase its carbohydrate profile.
For example, one brand of sugar-free cookies contains roughly ten grams of carbohydrates per 28g size serving while a sugar-sweetened alternative contains almost double the amount of carbohydrates, or 18 grams, for a similarly sized serving.
Monitoring your carbohydrate intake is important when you have diabetes because the body breaks down carbohydrates into sugars (glucose) after eating. This is why foods higher in carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels more than other types of foods.
Sugar-free cookies are manufactured to have fewer total carbohydrates and sugars, which can be beneficial for people with diabetes who are managing their blood sugar levels.
Artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, saccharin, and others are chemically synthesized to add sweetness to a product without adding to a product’s carbohydrate profile. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Cancer Institute (NCI), the six federally-approved artificial sweeteners are safe to consume whether or not you have diabetes. These include:
- Saccharin, also known as Sweet’N Low.
- Aspartame, also known as Equal.
- Acesulfame potassium, also known as Ace-K or Sweet One.
- Sucralose, also known as Splenda.
- Neotame, also known as Newtame.
These sweeteners can be found in many sugar-free products, including sugar-free sodas.
The safety of other artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin and aspartame, has also been subject of debate. But, similarly to an investigation on saccharin, much of the early research on aspartame’s potential adverse effects was conducted on animals, not humans. Today, both the FDA and NCI consider aspartame to be a safe sweetener.
Though the six artificial sweeteners listed above can be found in many sugar-free products, sugar-free cookies are often made using sugar alcohols, including:
Sugar alcohols, also known as polyols, are sweeteners that are naturally found in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables that are commercially produced to be used in sugar-free products, including sugar-free cookies.
Some research shows that consuming foods made with sugar alcohols do not significantly increase blood sugar levels, demonstrating that they can be a safe sugar alternative for people with diabetes.
However, another factor to consider when choosing sugar-free foods is their impact on your gastrointestinal (GI) system. Sugar alcohols are harder for the body to digest and absorb, which is why they some of them can cause the following symptoms:
- Stomach cramps.
If you’re concerned about whether or not a sugar-free product will cause you GI distress, you can reach out to a registered dietitian for their recommendations.
Other sugar-free foods
Sugar-free cookies are just one example of the many sugar-free foods available on the market today. Additional examples of sugar-free foods include:
- Diet soda.
- Sugar-free gum.
- Sugar-free jams or fruit spreads.
- Sugar-free candies.
- Sugar-free baked goods and pastries.
- Sugar-free ice cream.
Are Sugar-Free Foods Good for People with Diabetes?
Sugar-free foods made with sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners will have fewer carbohydrates and sugars than their regularly sweetened alternatives. For this reason, they’re less likely to raise blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, which is an important component of diabetes management.
However, many sugar-free foods still contain a certain amount of carbohydrates. Though a product may be labeled “sugar-free,” that doesn’t mean it will have a negligible effect on your blood sugar levels no matter how much of that product you consume. For example, if 28 grams of a sugar-free cookie contains 10 grams of carbohydrates and you eat 200 grams of cookies, that means you’re consuming roughly 60 grams of carbohydrates. Depending on the other types of foods you eat during that meal and throughout the day, this can have an impact on your blood sugar levels.
Understanding how to balance your consumption of sugar-free treats with other foods, including foods that contain fiber, fat, and protein, will help to ensure that you’re eating balanced meals that don’t dramatically raise your blood sugar levels.
Pros and Cons of Choosing Sugar-Free
- Sugar-free products are less likely to cause a spike in your blood sugar levels.
- Sugar-free products can help to satisfy your sweet tooth without dramatically increasing your overall carbohydrate intake.
- Some sugar-free products can cause uncomfortable GI symptoms, like bloating and diarrhea.
- Eating a large quantity of sugar-free products can still have an impact on your blood sugar levels.
If you’re interested in learning more about sugar-free foods and beverages that you can incorporate into your daily meal plan, Nourish can connect you with a registered dietitian specialized in diabetes management and meal planning. If you need help optimizing your nutrition, consider booking a virtual appointment today.
Managing Diabetes with a Dietitian
Honoring your unique tastes and preferences is important when you have diabetes. If you have a sweet tooth, there are several ways you can incorporate desserts and other sweet treats into your diet without adversely affecting your blood sugar levels.
Sugar-free cookies, and other sugar-free products, are one way to satisfy a sweet craving without dramatically impacting your blood sugar. Still, it’s important to monitor your intake of carbohydrates and sugars to ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet that will support your overall health. Working with a registered dietitian can help you plan balanced and satisfying meals.
Book an appointment with Nourish and see a registered dietitian through your insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
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