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Diabetes: Can I have my cake and eat it too?  The answer…

by Linda Gassenheimer

I was in the supermarket the other day and I heard someone say, “Oh, here are some sugarless cakes.  That’s perfect for my husband who’s a diabetic.”  Well, is it?

This is a question that often comes up.  Many people think it’s OK to eat diabetic foods such as sugarless cakes. 

It’ OK to eat these foods. But, here’s the reality. Diabetic and “dietetic” foods still raise blood glucose levels due to their carbohydrate content. They can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols such as sorbitol or maltitol and are eaten in large quantities.  These foods don’t have a special benefit and are usually more expensive. 

It’s better to have a meal plan that is low in saturated and trans fats, has moderate amounts of salt and sugar and has whole grains, vegetables and fruit.

Yes, you can have that slice of birthday cake or cookie.  Here’s how.

Plan ahead. Eat less bread, potato, corn, peas or other carbohydrates to offset the carbohydrate in the cake.  *For example, if you have a turkey sandwich for lunch and want to have a couple of small cookies with it, swap the bread in the sandwich (30 grams of carbs) for a low-calorie bread (about 15 grams of carbs) and have 2 small chocolate chip cookies (about 15 grams of carbs).   

The American Diabetes Association says, “For many people, having about 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates at meals is about right.” 

So what’s for lunch?
Here’s a meal that counts the carbs for you from my book, Mix ‘n’ Match Meals in Minutes for People with Diabetes.

Crunchy Coleslaw and Turkey Sandwich with Chocolate Chip Cookies

Deli coleslaw with added tomato salsa makes a crunchy topping for a roast turkey sandwich.

Helpful Hints:

  • Look for deli coleslaw that does not have added sugar.
  • Any type of lean deli meat can be used.


  • Mix coleslaw.
  • Assemble sandwich.
  • Serve dessert.


1/4 cup prepared or deli coleslaw 
1 tablespoon bottled, no-sugar-added tomato salsa
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound sliced, roasted turkey breast
2 slices reduced-calorie whole wheat bread

  • Drain coleslaw in a colander.
  • Toss drained coleslaw with tomato salsa and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place turkey on 2 slices of bread. 
  • Spoon half the coleslaw on top of the turkey and cover with remaining bread slices.
  • Serve extra coleslaw on the side.

One serving

Calories                        322

Total Fat g                   11.8

Saturated Fat g              2.2

Cholesterol mg                85
Sodium mg                    533

Carbohydrate g             28.8

Dietary Fiber g                7.5

Protein g                        41.0


2 small chocolate chip cookies (about 2 1/4-inches in diameter)
Calories                           96
Cholesterol mg                  0
Sodium mg                      64
Carbohydrates              13.4
Dietary Fiber g                0.4
Protein g                         1.1


Shopping List

Deli coleslaw (3 oz needed)
1/2 lb sliced, roasted turkey breast

1 bottle no-sugar-added tomato salsa
1 package chocolate chip cookies (2 1/4-inch diameter cookies)

Reduced-calorie whole wheat bread
Black peppercorns

*American Diabetes Association guidelines

Each person responds differently to foods.  If you have diabetes, it’s best to talk with a diabetic educator to help you establish dietary guidelines.



Linda's website is www.DinnerInMinutes.com.

For questions contact Linda@DinnerInMinutes.com

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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