Type 2 Diabetes: What’s The Deal With Sugar-Free?

Have you ever stopped to compare the carbohydrate content of “sugar-free” products to regular sugared products? If you haven’t, you might be in for a surprise. While the word “sugar-free” sounds good and in-line with what we should be eating, I’ve found that words and numbers don’t always match.

Many sugar-free products contain a sugar alcohol that consists of Malitol® and Sorbitol®, sugar substitutes. While these sugar substitutes are supposed to cause only a small rise in blood glucose levels, the Nutritional Facts may tell a different story. For example, a pack of sugar-free Twizzlers has more grams of carbohydrates than the sugared pack! Plus, the sugar-free pack has a warning that “Individuals sensitive to sugar substitutes may experience a laxative effect”. A laxative effect?! What in the world? So not only do I have to deal with the headache of being a diabetic but I may also have to worry about choosing between high blood sugar and diarrhea? Geez!

Aspartame is a common sugar-free ingredient for soft drinks, but it’s been a source of controversy since its debut in 1974. With reported side effects such as tinnitus, bulging eyes, slurred speech, dizziness, epileptic seizures, insomnia, aggression, and diarrhea, I have to stop and ask myself which is worse? 60 plus grams of carbs for a regular sugared soda or suffer the possible side effects of aspartame?

I often find myself avoiding sugar-free foods due to them including artificial and controversial ingredients. Everybody has to make the choice for themselves, but when it is all said and done, I’m not so sure that sugar-free gives you the best deal when it comes to health.