This week’s question from http://foodpicker.org is…
My doctor recently diagnosed me with type 2 diabetes. I know it is important to watch my sugar intake. Is sugarless candy really sugarless?
Great question! First of all, it is commonly misunderstood that regular sugar increases your blood sugar. In actuality, research has found that by itself, sucrose (table sugar) has very little effect on type 2 diabetes. It is the total CARBOHYDRATES that are the blood sugar-raising culprits!!
Before you disregard sugar entirely, it is good to know that sugar is a form of carbohydrate. You may notice that when you are reading nutrition labels, sugar is listed under “total carbohydrates.” Approximately 1 teaspoon of table sugar = 4 grams of carbohydrate. This is incorporated into that “total carbohydrate” amount. If you are using a lot of table sugar as a sweetener, this is something to consider when you are counting carbs. (Remember 1 serving of carbohydrate = 15 grams)
So why all the fuss and worry about sugar? High sugar goods are also often high in fat, high in calories, and high in carbohydrates. This is why it is important to monitor what you are eating. These high fat, high calorie foods in excess can cause you to gain weight, and being too heavy can put you at higher risk for diabetes or cause further complications if you have diabetes.
As far as sugarless goods go, always read the nutrition label. It may have 0 sugar grams because it is replaced with low-calorie artificial sweeteners, but what are the carbohydrate grams? Sometimes it’s helpful to compare labels and see if the sugarless product or the regular product has more calories or fat. This is what you want to focus on, and not be tempted just by that “sugar-free label.” If you want a piece of candy once in awhile, that’s ok. Read labels, account for it when eating your meals that day, and remember, “everything in moderation.”
Warning: Sometimes too many sugar-free goods can cause upset stomach and diarrhea, so watch out for how they effect you. Everyone tolerates food differently, so be sure to continue to check your blood sugar routinely.