When embarking on a low carb lifestyle in order to manage diabetes and improve blood glucose control, many people wonder, “Will I ever be able to eat a cookie again?” It can be hard to say no to desserts all the time, especially when it comes to celebrations, holidays, or special events. But there’s no need to worry! There are plenty of dessert options for individuals with diabetes or those following a low carb dietary pattern—it’s just about tweaking the ingredients to fit into your individualized nutrition plan.
Carbohydrates and sugars cause an insulin response. Fat, on the other hand, does not impact insulin.
That’s why we substitute with low carb ingredients. Just because a dessert is low carb, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. When looking for a low carb dessert recipe, the main ingredients that will require substitutions or modifications are flour (we can substitute almond flour for white flour), sweeteners (replace sugar with a low carb sweetener of choice), and liquids (swap milk for heavy cream or almond milk).
*Because carbohydrate restriction can lead to rapid decreases in blood sugar and blood pressure, Virta strongly recommends getting medical supervision before making any dietary changes if you are on medications for blood sugar or blood pressure. A physician can help you safely reduce your medications so that they don’t drive your blood sugar or blood pressure too low. Hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hypotensive (low blood pressure) episodes can be very dangerous.
Desserts in Moderation
While there are plenty of tasty options for low carb desserts and while it would be easy to include them in your everyday meal plan, it’s still important to practice moderation of these foods. Not only can these items be calorically dense, they also can contribute to your total carb intake for the day and it’s important that a majority of carbs come from non-starchy veggies instead of baked goods and other dessert items. It’s important to look at your short-term goals and consider how often including a dessert is appropriate, as this will be different for everyone. For birthdays and special occasions, a treat can be fine, but if you find this becoming a regular habit and/or stalling your progress, it may be worth re-evaluating how these choices fit into your eating plan.
Although low carb desserts will not impact glucose as significantly as compared to traditional desserts, it is best to include them only on occasion. Because each person has an individual response to certain ingredients like the various low carb sweeteners, it’s also important to check your blood glucose before and after eating to know your own tolerance to these foods.
There are some quick options if you need something small to curb a sweet craving such as dark chocolate (80% or darker), fresh berries with heavy cream, or sugar-free Jello. If you’re looking for substitutions for some of your favorite dessert items, here are a few of our top picks.