Is the very idea of a cookie being a diet food a contradiction in terms?

“Diet” cookies: is the very idea of a cookie being a diet food a contradiction in terms?

Diet cookies are tempting if you’re watching your weight. Just the thought of one decadent Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip walnut cookie with 310 calories and 16 grams of fat (of which half are saturated) can make you race instead to the diet cookie section and grab a box of Snackwell’s. But are you doing yourself a favor?

It’s true that a single serving of Snackwell’s Devil’s Food fat-free cookies has only 50 calories. But that serving is 16 grams, less than 1/4 the size of the Mrs. Field’s cookie. And portion size is usually the downfall in the diet cookie battle. Just as with potato chips, it’s hard to “eat just one” diet cookie. Thanks to 100-calorie portion packs, it’s easier to eat smaller portions of lower calorie cookies. Chips Ahoy Thin Crisps, Oreo Thin Crisps, and Keebler Right Bites Chips Deluxe all come in neat little packages of just 100 calories.

Even if you do eat the recommended portion size, are fat-free, sugar-free, and low-carbohydrate cookies really waistline savers? Fat-free Fig Newtons have 100 calories in a serving; a serving of regular Fig Newtons contains 110 calories, almost the same calories per gram. A serving of Pepperidge Farm’s sugar-free Milano chocolate-filled sandwich cookies contains 170 calories (and 9 grams of fat), similar to regular Milanos. Pepperidge Farm simply swapped the sugar for maltitol, sugar alcohol. Many cookies labeled “low-carb” are also high in fat. Body Choice Low Carb cookies pack 9 grams of fat (3 of them saturated) in a 36-gram serving. Both have more fat per gram than a serving of regular Oreo cookies, making either cookie a particularly beastly bite. And keep an eye out for trans fats. Murray Sugar-free Creme Sandwich cookies have 3 grams of trans fat in one 28-gram serving.

When it comes to the quest for a healthier cookie, sometimes what they have is more important than what they don’t have. So South Beach Diet Cookies are a better bite. They are made with whole grain flour, providing 3 grams of fiber in a 100-calorie portion. But your best bite may be Health Valley Raisin Oatmeal fat-free cookies, with ingredients like 100 percent organic whole wheat flour, cane juice, dates, oats, raisins, and bran–plus they have 3 grams of fiber and just 100 calories in three cookies. Not a bad way to “diet” with cookies.

WHAT’S IN THOSE BEASTLY BITES? “DIET” COOKIES

Product/Portion Calories Fat /Sat Fat Trans Fat Carbs

Body Choice Low Carb,

3 cookies (36 g) 130 9 g/3 g 0 g 12 g

Chips Ahoy Thin Crisps,

1 pkg (23 g) 100 3 g/1 g 0 g 18 g

Fig Newtons 100% Whole

Grain, 2 (37 g) 110 2 g/1 g 0 g 22 g

Fig Newtons Fat-Free,

2 cookies (29 g) 90 0 g/0 g 0 g 22 g

Health Valley Raisin

Oatmeal Fat-Free, 3 (33 g) 100 0 g/0 g 0 g 24 g

Keebler Right Bite Chips

Deluxe, 1 pkg (21 g) 100 3 g/1 g 0 g 17 g

Mother’s Sugar-Free

Oatmeal, 4 cookies (32 g) 140 6 g/2 g n/a * 22 g

Murray Sugar-Free Creme

Sandwich, 3 (28 g) 130 6 g/2 g 3 g 19 g

Oreo Carbwell, 2 cookies

(24 g) 100 5 g/2 g n/a * 16 g

Pepperidge Farm Sugar-Free

Milano, 3 (35 g) 170 9 g/3.5 g 0 g 21 g

Snackwell’s Creme Sandwich

4 cookies (48 g) 210 5 g/1 g 0 g 38 g

Snackwell’s Devil Food

Fat-Free, 1 cookie (16 g) 50 0 g/0 g 0 g 12 g

Snackwell’s Sugar-Free

Lemon Sandwich, 3 (32 g) 130 6 g/2 g n/a * 24 g

Snackwell’s Sugar-Free

Shortbread, 3 (30 g) 130 5 g/1 g n/a * 21 g

South Beach Diet Oatmeal

Choc Chip, 2 (24g) 100 5 g/1 g 0 g 16 g

Product/Portion Sugar Protein Fiber Sodium

Body Choice Low Carb,

3 cookies (36 g) 0 g 3 g 2 g 90 mg

Chips Ahoy Thin Crisps,

1 pkg (23 g) 7 g 1 g 1 g 140 mg

Fig Newtons 100% Whole

Grain, 2 (37 g) 13 g 1 g 2 g 115 mg

Fig Newtons Fat-Free,

2 cookies (29 g) 12 g 1 g 1 g 125 mg

Health Valley Raisin

Oatmeal Fat-Free, 3 (33 g) 11 g 2 g 3 g 80 mg

Keebler Right Bite Chips

Deluxe, 1 pkg (21 g) 9 g 1 g <1 g 95 mg

Mother’s Sugar-Free

Oatmeal, 4 cookies (32 g) 0 g 2 g <1 g 105 mg

Murray Sugar-Free Creme

Sandwich, 3 (28 g) 0 g 1 g <1 g 50 mg

Oreo Carbwell, 2 cookies

(24 g) 0 g 2 g 3 g 105 mg

Pepperidge Farm Sugar-Free

Milano, 3 (35 g) 0 g 2 g <1 g 65 mg

Snackwell’s Creme Sandwich

4 cookies (48 g) 18 g 2 g 1 g 230 mg

Snackwell’s Devil Food

Fat-Free, 1 cookie (16 g) 7 g 1 g 0 g 30 mg

Snackwell’s Sugar-Free

Lemon Sandwich, 3 (32 g) 0 g 2 g 0 g 135 mg

Snackwell’s Sugar-Free

Shortbread, 3 (30 g) 0 g 2 g 1 g 150 mg

South Beach Diet Oatmeal

Choc Chip, 2 (24g) 4 g 1 g 3 g 90 mg

Sources of Nutrient Information: Calorie King, Manufacturers’

Websites, and Manufacturers’ Customer Service

* New trans fat labeling not available

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