Sugar-free, no added sugar, and diabetic specialist foods

Sugar-free sweets, biscuits, and no added sugar chocolate; Wooohoooo! When looking in the shops, you may see items which are labelled as sugar-free and no added sugar, which is marketed as suitable for diabetics… Hurrah! All the naughty things you may be craving and yet no sugar to cause high blood sugar levels, which is something we are trying to avoid.

So can you have your ‘cake‘ and eat it too, or is there more to it than meets the eye?

Sugar-Free Sweets, Chocolate and biscuits you can freely eat! (or not?)

Every week or so, we get posts about these products in our Facebook support group. Mums are overjoyed to find sugar-free sweets and treats they can indulge in without guilt. However, whilst these may seem like good choices for a GD diet and a dream to your cravings, please beware and be fully informed before you or your loved ones spend your hard-earned money! Plus, make sure you don’t overindulge, or you may regret those few sweet yummy tastes!

The cost versus what you get

Firstly, these products are generally more expensive than everyday products, so the first thing to bear in mind is that you generally need to spend more and get much less for your money than regular products. This seems especially true for sugar-free sweets and biscuits.

But if you can afford a treat and you’re not wasting money on other treats, then why not indulge, especially if it’s better for baby and you? But are they any better?

Sugar-Free or no added sugar does not mean free from carbs or even lower in carbs!

These items may have ‘no added sugars’ or may be ‘sugar-free’, but that does not mean they are free from carbohydrates, which still turn into glucose in the bloodstream; therefore, these products may still raise your blood sugar levels as much as any other food, or you may in fact find the normal everyday product actually contains fewer carbs than a sugar-free variety!

Below is a comparison of some of the most common cookies and biscuits:

Biscuits (per biscuit or mini bag)carbs (g)protein (g)fat (g)
Tesco Rich Tea Finger Biscuits 3.70.40.7
Gullón Sugar-Free Maria Cookies4.50.40.7
Gullón Sugar-Free Vanilla Flavour Wafers4.70.21.7
Pink Panther Wafers4.80.32.3
ASDA Pink Wafers5.20.42.8
Gullón Sugar-Free Chocolate Flavour Wafers5.250.21.75
McVitie’s Thin Arrowroot Biscuits5.30.51.2
Nairn’s Gluten-Free Oaties5.80.92.2
Maryland Sugar-Free Choc Chip Cookies6.00.62.2
Gullón Sugar-Free Choco Chip Biscuits6.00.62.3
Nairn’s Gluten-Free Biscuit Breaks Chocolate Chip6.20.82.1
Nairn’s Dark Chocolate Chip Oat Biscuits6.40.81.7
Maryland Cookies Choc Chip6.50.52.2
JUST ESSENTIALS by ASDA Chocolate Chip Cookies6.60.62.5
Morrisons Savers Chocolate Chip Cookies6.60.62.4
Morrisons Choc Chip Cookies6.70.62.6
Tesco Chocolate Chip Cookies6.80.62.6
Tesco Rich Tea Biscuits6.90.71.4
Ms Molly’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (Tesco)7.00.72.6
Tesco Reduced-Fat Rich Tea Biscuits7.30.80.8
Gullón Zero Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate Digestives8.50.92.8
Morrisons Digestives8.91.03.1
Gullón Zero Sugar-Free Digestive Biscuits9.00.82.1
Tesco Digestive Biscuits9.01.02.9
McVitie’s Digestives Lights9.11.12.8
Sainsbury’s Sweetmeal Digestives9.21.03.0
McVitie’s The Original Digestive Biscuits9.31.03.1
Tesco Oaty Rounds Biscuits9.31.13.0
Morrisons Oat Nobblies9.31.02.9
McVitie’s Hobnobs9.41.13.1
Lovett’s Digestive Biscuits (Sainsbury’s)9.81.12.9
Aldi Belmont Digestive Biscuits9.81.23.0
ASDA Digestive Biscuits10.01.12.8
Gullón Zero Sugar-Free Choc Chip Cookies12.01.14.5
The Skinny Cookie Co Mini Choc Chip Cookies (per bag)12.91.14.6
Aldi Belmont Choc Chip Cookies (per bag)13.11.14.6
Maryland Treat Cookies Minis Choc Chip (per bag)13.21.14.5
Data taken from packaging and online resources [Jan 2023]

The sugar-free sweets effect! #readthegummybearsreviews

You can find copious amounts of sugar-free sweets in most shops now. Many are available in small boxes or packets alongside the checkouts in Aldi, Lidl and M&S. They are also found in Boots, and most large supermarkets in the sweets aisle.

These type of sugar-free sweets may help those with bad sweet cravings, BUT…

Most of these products contain high amounts of sweeteners. Many contain polyols or sugar alcohols (which are a type of sweetener). Most of these sugar alcohols have around half the amount of carbohydrates compared to glucose, and they are digested more slowly, but this is the biggest issue we see:

These sugar-free sweets/biscuits can have a laxative effect, causing bloating, cramping, flatulence and diarrhoea. In fact, we’ve had a few mamas in our support group think they are going into labour after eating these!

So please be warned, I advise having two or three sweets at a time, or you could regret the decision to have a treat! You may want to reconsider giving children these sugar-free sweets and treats as a supposedly healthier alternative too.

If you don’t believe me and fancy a bit of a giggle #readthegummybearsreviews  *Please note, I am not advertising or recommending these sugar-free sweets to try. This link will forewarn you of the impact of eating too many sugar-free sweets!

via GIPHY

Explain to family & friends about these products

There is an increasing demand for these products due to people being made more aware of consuming higher amounts of sugar in their diets, the sugar tax raising awareness and many people following sugar-free diets now. Therefore you will find sugar-free sweets, biscuits and chocolates in many shops, from local newsagents and corner shops to larger supermarkets and health food stores, as it is a vastly growing market.

Through lack of awareness and understanding, many partners, friends, family, and relatives do not understand that normal, everyday products are fine to be consumed by people with diabetes and will purchase these sugar-free goodies as gifts and treats.

Whilst it’s lovely that loved ones are trying to support us at a difficult time, use the opportunity to educate them on diabetes and nutrition. Remember, these things are OK to eat, but treat them the same as you would any other biscuits, sweets or chocolate. Keep the amount being consumed small and pair to help make them tolerable.

 

Everyday normal food…

My advice is, “save your money, save your tummy!…”

You can still enjoy small treats when following a good GD diet. Use food pairing to help you tolerate a small sweet treat, such as a Nairn’s oat biscuit or a small amount of dark chocolate paired with a handful of nuts. I even have a post on chocolate and how best to enjoy it without spiking blood glucose levels! Which will help you make better choices and take less risk when having a treat.

Try my cheat’s cheesecake to enjoy a well-paired biscuit!

Cheats Cheesecake
Cheats Cheesecake | Gestational Diabetes UK
Check out this recipe
cheats cheesecake

Read labels on products carefully and compare the TOTAL CARBOHYDRATE amounts (not just of which are sugar).

You may often find that a normal biscuit has the same amount of carbohydrates as a sugar-free shortbread biscuit, is much nicer and costs less! So don’t be fooled into Sugar-Free marketing. As always, it helps to eat carbs with protein and natural fats. This is GD Food Pairing which will help reduce the spike in blood sugar levels due to slowing glucose absorption and gastric emptying. Remember #NeverEatANakedCarb

via GIPHY

Sugar-free gummies and hard candy sweets are very easy to find in many shops. They can be fine in moderation and help with sweet cravings, but remember that they can have bad laxative effects! If you try them, then make sure you are prepared!