Saturday, January 30, 2010

When the Label Says "Sugar Free"

I have a confession to make.

I LOVE chocolate.

I've been on a quest to find a chocolate treat in which I can indulge. It's easier said than done. I've checked the back of dozens of labels. Most of the chocolate treats on the store shelves have as much or more carbs than I eat in a day.

As a diabetic, I can't afford to make mistakes with my carbs. I don't want my blood sugar to creep up or jump up. It's all about control. As someone trying to lose weight, the last thing I want to do is blow it with a carby indulgence.

As a consumer, it really ticks me off that I can pick up a bag of "sugar free" chocolate candy only to discover that it's not really sugar free. At my local grocery store there is a display of sugar free candy. On the front of every bag as big as can be is the label "sugar free". It looks like a low carbers dream...

Until you turn over the package and read the back label. One piece is often 20 carbs. How can that be? Sugar alcohols. They subtract the sugar alcohols the same way we subtract fiber to get net carbs. If you are a low carber or diabetic, despite what some folks say (the people selling the candy), sugar alcohols will mess with your weight loss efforts and blood sugar. I know. I've tried it. Not only did it cause a stall in my weight loss, but it sent my blood sugars through the roof.

I can't help but think of all of the diabetics out there who take the "sugar free" label at face value. Personally, I think this deceitful labeling practice should be illegal. Granted, people should read the nutritional labels, but not everyone does. In fact, not everyone even knows that it's the carbs they should count. How can they when the ADA recommends 60 or more carbs PER MEAL to diabetics? If I ate like that I would be dead, or at the very least in a diabetic coma close to dead.

Don't trust the marketing labels on the front of packages. Read the nutritional labels. You can subtract fiber from carbs to get a net carb number, but do not subtract sugar alcohols. Believe it or not, even Atkins products subtracts the sugar alcohols. It's all about marketing and making the almighty dollar. Don't put your health or your life in the hands of marketing professionals whose job is to convince you that their product is healthy, when in fact, it is not.

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