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Diabetic Treats - Low Carb Alternatives

Updated: Oct 19, 2019

How to stave the cravings from decades of sugar abuse.

Sugar is now the leading cause of huge shopping bills across the globe.

Despite many foods that are laced with the highly addictive substance being cheap as chips, carbohydrates cause hunger, and this increases the load in our shopping trolley.

We are constantly told that eating healthy is expensive. Well, how many loaves of bread are you buying? How many bars of cheap chocolate? How many boxes of cereal? How many bottles of soft drink? How many bags of chips (crisps)? How many pizzas? How many burgers? How many fried anything?

Despite refined carbohydrates and cheap foods packed with sugar being constantly on sale and ‘presumably‘ cheap, how much are we buying in comparison to meat and veg? (Hint: you already know the answer).

Moment of clarity

Yesterday, my wife and I were driving back from the supermarket - we had just completed our weekly shop.

We both now eat a very low-carb - ketogenic diet. High fat, lots of green leafy vegetables and moderate amounts of good quality meat.

It has had simply staggering benefits for my blood sugars and we have both seen improvements in energy levels being consistent over the whole day; our skin has cleared up; our sleep has improved; we’re fuller for longer; my wife has seen a decrease in neuropathy brought on by her chemotherapy; even our general moods have improved. It has been an eye-opening time.

But, sat in the car chatting, I had this epiphany rush over me.

We have been lied to our entire lives!

We have been told to eat 3 square meals a day. We have been told to eat a diet high in carbohydrates. We have been told to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day (5!!). We have been told fruit juice is good for us. We have been told fat is bad for us.

It’s all tripe.

Since eating a ketogenic diet, both of us are eating far less than we’ve ever eaten. Our appetite has decreased to the point where we thought something may be wrong, but upon researching this, it is common that people who adopt a low-carb, high fat diet don’t require the same quantities of food as someone eating a higher carb diet.

Adding to this, we have also embraced intermittent fasting after learning of its benefits. This has come very easily and naturally given that we are no longer hungry when waking in the morning. So we frequently fast from 6 or 7 pm through to 10 am or 12 pm. We are exercising daily in the early mornings or late afternoon and our workouts are better than when we were eating more.

This has flown in the face of everything we have been taught growing up and even from when I was in university.

You can’t help but ask the question: “if I’m eating much less, but have increased energy, why have I been told to eat far more all my life?” - and the conclusion leads me to money.

Our shopping bill has more than halved - and our appetites have shrunk. That’s not good for business - but it is good for our health and our wallet.

Low-carb alternatives

The first thing I did when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes was to search-out low carb treats. I’ve always enjoyed deserts and sweets, but there was no way I was going to put myself in harms way and inject large quantities of exogenous insulin to cover food that I knew wasn‘t good for me in the first place, let alone now.

I live in Australia and we have multiple options available to cover the basics of what you may consider a ‘treat’. However, I found it far more difficult in Europe to locate semi-healthy low-carb indulgent goodies.

Before moving onto the list though, it’s important to mention that I have never bought a low-carb treat that has a greater benefit (or less of an impact on blood sugars) than something I’ve made from scratch at home. Look at the ingredients on the back of any packet and compare, because it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever need a list as long as your arm to make a cookie in your own kitchen.

So, with that in mind, the first thing to think about is creating your own low-carb treats.

Common ingredients used in a typical no-sugar low-carb dessert are:

1) Almond meal/flour

2) Sweetener (Erythritol, Stevia)

3) Eggs

4) Peanut butter

5) Sugar-free chocolate

6) Cream

7) Coconut Oil

8) Vanilla Extract

9) Cinnamon

10) Cream Cheese

Google keto desserts and you’ll be grand.

Now, onto specific brands and foods. Not all foods are created equally and many marketed as healthy are quite the opposite. Things to bear in mind;

a) Almost all sweeteners ending in ‘ol‘ or ‘ose’ will raise your blood sugars to some degree. The exception I have found is erythritol. In Australia, food manufacturers can happily state the food is sugar-free, but it actually has tons of maltitol or sorbitol or some other sugar substitute. Lots of these will raise your blood sugars so be careful.

b) Gluten is not your friend - Increasing studies are showing a correlation between gluten with inflammation and auto-immune disease. At the very least, it's not good for your blood sugars.

Regarding the below: I consider a low-carb treat something that I do not have to bolus for or requires very little rapid-acting insulin (i.e. 0.5u).

Not all the foods below are good for you. Some will increase your blood sugars and have nasties in, so avoid as much as possible.

(sorry about the quality of the photos)

Australia specific low-carb desserts/treats

1) Ice-cream

Brand: Denada

My favourite and lowest in carbs are found in Coles

1.2g carbs per serving.


Brand: Peters no sugar ice-cream.

Supermarket: Coles, Woolworths, Foodworks.

4.3g carbs per serving.


Brand: Fropro

Supermarket: Coles, Woolworths.

6.5g carbs per serving.


2) Chocolate

Brand: Well Naturally, no sugar added chocolate.

Supermarket: Coles, Woolworths.

1.6g carbs per serving


Brand: Coles

Supermarket: Coles

2.1g carbs per serving


Brand: Lindt

Supermarket: All major

2.8g carbs per serving

Note: there are no-sugar Lindt bars. These contain maltitol and are 13g carbs per serving. So NOT low carb.


3) Donuts

Brand: Noshu

Supermarkets: Woolworths

2.8g carbs per donut


4) Cakes

Brand: Noshu

Supermarkets: Woolworths

7g carbs per serving


Brand: Noshu

Supermarkets: Woolworths

18.6g carbs per serving and contains gluten (wheat) - NOT low carb despite the marketing.


5) Cookies

Brand: Quest

Supermarkets: Woolworths, Chemist Warehouse.

4g carbs per serving


6) Protein bar

Brand: Quest

Supermarket: All major

4 or 5g carbs per bar


Why removing high sugar food matters

As you can see, there are a lot of options available in Australia - and a lot more that I'm sure I've missed (I’ve purposely not listed any other protein bar as they all put my blood sugars up with no bolus apart from quest).

Getting in the kitchen and learning how to make healthy alternatives should always be your first option, as it's not just good for your blood sugars but your health in general. Foods marketed as healthy can be a minefield so tread carefully and as always test on yourself. Anecdotal evidence is and always will be the best research you can gather.

Some things to consider:

a) High sugar foods have been designed to be addictive. Like other addictive substances - the less you consume - the less you will need.

b) The more fat from natural sources you consume, the less hungry you will be (a good thing). Remember, fat does not make you fat - carbohydrates do.

c) Learning to live with less sugar, low carb alternatives results in less insulin needed, and a decreased risk of hypo and hypers.

d) Many foods marketed as healthy are not even close. If they have sorbitol, maltitol, sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, glycerol, isomalt, lactitol, mannitol, polydextrose, xylitol - as an ingredient, we don't really know how safe they are. Companies are hiding sugar substitutes under obscure names. If all else fails - If it puts your blood sugars up, it's not good for you.

Diabetes is serious business. We are charged with managing (not the medical profession) - a life-altering and often ending disease, and businesses are taking advantage of this. They are playing to a market in need of support by offering technology and food alternatives (but no real sustainable changes).

We have the power to take control of our disease, but it requires some potentially big changes. I cannot overemphasize that if you take the bull by the horns and make subtle but consistent lifestyle changes, you'll feel better, be healthier, be richer, and more empowered.


Believe the hypo

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Very interesting information Nathan. I have not seen or looked for those products you have shown but will look for them in the supermarkets. My husband does the majority of the cooking/baking in our home and he is very conscious of the healthy alternatives. Great article blog Nathan 😀

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