Sugar-Free Desserts For People With Diabetes

If you have diabetes or know somebody who has diabetes, then you will be more than aware of just how important your diet is regarding blood sugar and carbohydrate intake.

Supriya Lal

2022 Jul 18

9 min read

<p data-pm-slice="1 1 []">If you have diabetes or know somebody who has diabetes, then you will be more than aware of just how important your diet is regarding blood sugar and carbohydrate intake.</p>

With diabetes being a chronic condition that directly affects the body’s ability to break down the sugars found in various foods, it is more important than anything else to make sure that you try to customize your diet in such a way that avoids as much added sugar as possible.

You Need To Avoid Added Sugar

sugar

If you happen to be somebody with a major sweet tooth, then this can be a very difficult rule to follow. It is much easier to avoid added sugar in the main meal, but when it comes to desserts, finding delicious desserts that are even a bit diabetes-friendly is a way more difficult task.

Things like cake, candy, sweets, chocolate chips, maple syrup, and others can all be responsible for a sugar intake higher than recommended for your diabetic condition. If you want to keep your blood sugar as low as possible, then you need to do everything that you can to keep things low sugar and low carb, and always choose a sensible serving size.

The good news on this front is that there are plenty of low-sugar desserts, sugar substitutes, artificial sweeteners, and stevia-based desserts that all taste great and have the kind of nutritional value that will be able to keep your diabetes at bay.

There Are Great Diabetes-Friendly Low Sugar Desserts That Contain Healthy Fats

low-sugar desserts

If food is one of the great pleasures that you have in your life, it can be really difficult to give up the store-bought desserts, sweets, and special occasions recipes that you have come to rely on for some eating pleasure every now and then. The important thing to remember is that you can still get that much-needed hit of tasty sweetness even if you have to give up the treats that are not sugar-free.

With all of this in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the low-sugar desserts, low-carb desserts, and overall healthy desserts that you can substitute into your daily diet to achieve better blood sugar levels.

Sugar-Free, Sugar Substitute, Low Sugar Version, And Low Carb Desserts

peaches

Fresh Fruit

In any kind of diet, the more fruit you eat, the more positive nutrition you will add to your body regularly. People with diabetes, however, have to remember that fruit contains natural sugars. But, the great thing about the best fruits for diabetes is that they are naturally sweetened without having so much sugar content that they become off limits.

Fruit is also great as a snack – you don’t have to limit it to dessert. You can always enjoy a generous serving of the right fruit to get a real hit of sweetness.

Suppose you are somebody whose diabetes has developed due to weight gain and obesity. In that case, a snack like apple slices with some cinnamon for dessert instead of whole milk ice cream can make a huge difference to your all-important blood sugar levels.

The best fruits for diabetes are:

  • apples – high in fiber, s.o will help to slow a blood sugar spike
  • pears
  • berries – recommended as superfoods by the American Diabetes Association.
  • peaches
  • plums
  • cherries
  • grapefruit
  • kiwi fruit

Fruits to avoid if you have diabetes:

These mentioned fruits that are recommended to avoid contain a high amount of natural sugar. That doesn’t mean you can’t eat them, just exercise good portion control.

You can also consider swapping in fruit where previously you might have used chocolate. For example, if you are making low-fat, low-sugar muffins, use blueberries instead of relying on the chocolate chip!

You can also find some great recipes online where apple sauce is used in baking as a substitute for fat – as apples are low in sugar and great for diabetes, it’s a win-win dessert.

Not only will eating fruit mean that you are ingesting less sugar, but it will also mean fewer calories which can, in turn, lead to weight loss.

This advice applies to fresh fruit. More caution is needed for canned fruit. Canned fruits and those in plastic pots and cups are often packaged in syrup. Described as heavy or light syrup, they will both contain sugar, just to a varying degree. Fruit packed in its own juice is fine but as with all processed food, carefully check the ingredients because it may contain added sugar.

Dates Make a Great Sweet Treat

Dates aren’t something that a lot of people eat regularly, but we happen to think they are something of a superfood for people with diabetes in particular!

Dates have a naturally very sweet flavor, and not only are they great for snacking on their own, but they can also be used as a sugar substitute in some baking recipes. They are a natural sweetener that is much better for you than some of the artificial options, not to mention being gluten-free as well for extra health benefits.

Honey

Honey is a natural ingredient on the sweet and sugary side, but in terms of its nutrition facts, it would be fair to say that compared to other types of sugar, a little can go a very long way.

If you eat something like porridge for breakfast and want to make it taste sweet without too much sugar added, then a spoonful of honey can transform the bowl and give you that sweet dessert-style satisfaction you have been craving. You can add even more sweetness and flavor by adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to your honey porridge.

On a side note, there is also another trick you can try here. A lot of the time, we give in to our cravings, but we can train ourselves to respond to other tasty things too. As an example, if you are already adding honey to your porridge, try adding some nuts or seeds. Adding crunch gives a new sensation and sometimes, the texture can be just as satisfying as the taste.

It is important to be strict with yourself when using honey as a sweetener because peer-reviewed studies have shown that too much of the natural ingredient can definitely cause unwanted spikes in blood sugar levels.

As a general rule, you can often substitute white sugar for some honey in any recipe that requires it, certainly in baking. Honey is also an excellent substitute for sugar in tea.

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate and chocolate chips are arguably the number one source of frustration for people who have the unfortunate combination of diabetes and a strong sweet tooth.

Most people will assume that even a sprinkle of chocolate is off-limits when you have diabetes. After all, the basics of any chocolate recipe are going to contain milk (carbohydrates, fats, and sugar). Ergo, it is also high in calories. Despite this, chocolate does have a low glycemic index, so there are ways you can enjoy a small serving of chocolate when you have diabetes.

On average, chocolate confectionery (bars and sweets) contains 50g of sugar per 100g.  It probably will not surprise you to learn that dark chocolate contains less sugar than milk chocolate and white chocolate, so if you absolutely have to get your chocolate fix every now and then, the best way to do it is by snacking on a single serving of dark chocolate.

Though dark chocolate might not give you the same kind of sweet hit as other foods that are more sugary, the nutrition labels tell you everything that you need to know, and that is that dark chocolate is the best way to go for a sweet treat snack that doesn’t have too many carbohydrates and won’t hit your blood sugar levels too hard.

Sugar-Free Versions Of Your Old School Favorites

If you are not too concerned about keeping things completely natural and don’t mind seeking out different versions of the sugar-filled foods that you used to enjoy, then there are plenty of sugar-free alternatives on the shelves of all supermarkets around the world.

Artificial sweeteners such as stevia have been used in the dessert market to completely transform the landscape for anyone who can’t completely give up their sweet-tasting tendencies. There is a huge range of diabetes-friendly low-sugar desserts available with hot and cold recipes for all occasions.

Go to any food store these days and you will find sugar-free versions of everything from ice cream, cake, candy to pudding, yogurt, soda, and more. Not all of the nutrition facts stack up as being 100 percent ideal for diabetes. Still, in terms of a nutrition label presenting you with something important for your condition, sugar-free versions of popular foods are a wonderful way to help balance out an eating regime that needs to pay attention to blood sugar and carbs.

As with anything you eat when you have diabetes, it is about being smart when you choose a dessert. So, check that low-sugar desserts don’t compensate for the lack of added sugar with other additives such as fat to make up taste or flavor.

A classic example of this is fruit yogurt. Always avoid anything labeled as a “fruit flavored” yogurt as this will contain minimal fruit but probably plenty of added sugar. If you want a fruit yogurt, choose a natural, low-sugar yogurt and add your own chopped-up fruit.

Find Different Foods To Snack On

If you simply cannot find satisfaction in the sugar-free alternatives we have suggested, then another sensible option is to treat yourself in moderation from time to time while at the same time finding alternative foods to snack on that aren’t so high in sugar and high in calories.

For example, things like pumpkin seeds and nuts like cashews and almonds can be satisfying as a simple snack for people with diabetes and much healthier than a sugar-filled cake made with butter and other fatty, unhealthy ingredients. Also, look online for recipes for handmade snacks. Protein balls based on dates are a good choice because as well as having great flavor, no added sugar, and low carbohydrate content, they are low in calories and high in fiber and protein.

As long as you can keep a handle on how much sugar you are putting into your body every day and making sure that the levels of things like carbohydrates, fiber, and sugar alcohols are all within acceptable ranges, you should feel free to treat yourself to the real deal every now and then.

Do what is best for your body and this will almost always mean cutting back on sugars and embracing sugar-free alternatives without being so strict on yourself that you cave and binge to the detriment of your blood sugar levels. Do it right and you will get your just desserts.

Written by

Supriya Lal

Supriya Lal is a Registered Dietitian based in New York City. She completed her training at Duke University Hospital System and has specific interests in personalised nutrition therapy, nutritional counseling, and sustainability related to food and nutrition. She is currently completing her Master's in Public Health at New York University.

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