Sugar free, no added sugar and diabetic specialist foods
When looking in the shops you may see many items which diabetic specialist foods. They may be no added sugar or sugar free sweets, biscuits and chocolate which is marketed as suitable for diabetics. Horrah! All the naughty things you may be craving and yet no sugar to cause high blood sugar levels which is detrimental to your baby. So can you have your cake and eat it, or is there more to it than meets the eye???
Chocolate and biscuits I can freely eat!... Sorry to disappoint...
Every week or so we get posts about these products in our Facebook support group. Ladies are overjoyed to find some treats which they can indulge in without the guilt. However, whilst these may seem like good choices for a GD diet and a dream to your cravings, please beware and be fully informed before you or your loved ones spend your hard earned money!
- Firstly these products are generally more expensive than everyday products. If you can afford a treat then why not indulge, especially if it's better for baby and you. But are they any better?...
- These items may have 'no added sugars' or may be 'sugar free', but that does not mean they are free from carbohydrates, which still turn into glucose in the bloodstream
- Diabetic specialist foods are unnecessary. Many of these products contain no better nutritional goodness than other sweets, biscuits and chocolate. They very often still contain high amounts of carbohydrates, fat and are high in calories
- The majority of these products contain high amounts of polyols or sugar alcohols (better known as artificial sweeteners). These sugar alcohols have around half the amount of carbohydrates compared to glucose and they are digested more slowly BUT can have a laxative effect, causing bloating, cramping, flatulence and diarrhoea. In fact we've had a few ladies in our support group think they are going into labour after eating these! ?
Diabetes charities campaigning for an end to diabetic specialist foods
Here is what Diabetes UK have said on the matter
Diabetes UK are calling for an end to the use of terms such as 'diabetic' or 'suitable for diabetics' on food labels.
This position statement is intended to help people with diabetes make more informed choices when buying foods, and to encourage manufacturers and retailers to label products responsibly.
Diabetes UK and the European Commission (EC) have concluded that there is no role or benefit from the use of diabetic foods. Diabetes UK will continue to work on influencing manufacturers and retailers to ensure that consumers are not misled by labelling food as diabetic or suitable for diabetics.
Click here to read more of Diabetes UK's position statement on diabetic foods
Still a big market for diabetic specialist foods - lack of awareness
There is a demand for these products, hence they can be found in many shops. Through lack of awareness, many friends, family and relatives who are looking to buy treats for loved ones who are diabetics and do not understand that normal, everyday products are safe to be consumed in people with diabetes will purchase these items as gifts.
Whilst it's lovely that loved ones are trying to support us at a difficult time, use the opportunity to educate them on diabetes and nutrition.
Everyday normal foods...
Our advice is "save your money, save your tummy!..."
You can still enjoy small treats when following a good GD diet. Use food pairing to help you tolerate a small sweet treat, such as a small amount of dark chocolate paired with a handful of nuts.
We even have a post dedicated to chocolate! Which will help you make better choices and take less risk.
Read labels on products carefully and compare the TOTAL CARBOHYDRATE amounts (not just of which are sugar).
You may often find that a normal biscuit has the same amount of carbohydrates as a sugar free shortbread biscuit, is much nicer and costs less! So don't be fooled into Sugar Free marketing.
Sugar free sweets and sugar free hard candy sweets are very easy to find in many shops. They can be fine in moderation and help with sweet cravings, but remember that they can have bad laxative effects!