"Sugar-Free" Isn't Always Sugar-Free

As diabetics, we all need to keep an eye on our carbohydrate intake, as that is what mainly affects our blood sugar levels. It is no secret the best way to control blood sugar is to look at the nutrition facts to read what the carbohydrate amount is per serving. Some may even take it a step further to figure out if it is a simple or complex carbohydrate to understand if it will cause a spike in blood sugar.

Nutrition labels can be deceiving

All of that is good, but what happens when the label deceives you? How do you keep from making that mistake and falling into a trap that can cause blood sugar spikes you don’t know are going to happen, and possibly could miss the cause?

Misleading claims on food packaging

Packaged food items are sometimes quick to proudly display that it is sugar-free. We have all seen this along with other proud phrases such as "low in sugar" and "no added sugar." A person with diabetes may see this and think, "what an amazing claim for a food that traditionally has lots of sugar in it!" The problem is if you don’t take the time to look at the label and simply go by the claim of sugar-free, you more than likely will be eating carbohydrates you weren’t intending on consuming.

Avoiding the trap of deceptive food labels

I have noticed many items, usually in the junk food aisle, when shopping for the kids, that claim to be sugar-free. At first, I almost fell into the trap of this tricky marketing. I quickly placed some hard candies and some wafer-like cookies into my basket, thinking I found a great snack to have at work. Oh, was I wrong!

Take a minute to compare the nutrition facts

Thankfully, I took a moment to read the nutrition facts. These all had double-digit carbohydrates per serving, and the serving size was practically a joke as to what an average person would probably consider a serving. I looked at their non-sugar-free counterparts and they contained nearly the same carbohydrates in the nutrition facts. It is an absolute joke that these can legally be labeled as sugar-free when they have so many carbohydrates. This isn’t something to take lightly as a diabetic. We need to know if something truly is sugar-free. If a food contains carbohydrates, guess what, it isn't sugar-free.

The frustration of misleading packaging

Just because a carbohydrate is not in its most simple form does not make it sugar-free either. If your body can break it down into a simple sugar, which it does with most, if not all, complex carbohydrates, that product is not sugar-free. We need to stop measuring sugar by the content of sweet, simple carbohydrates and start measuring sugar by what our body breaks it down into.

It is very frustrating to be lied to by these food companies to make their products sound good and healthy to the average consumer. Diabetics don’t count carbohydrates and sugar because it’s a health kick or a fad diet to lose a few pounds, this is literally life and death for some of us. So I emphasize, don’t automatically fall for the flashy and misleading food labels, and make sure you read the nutrition facts because "sugar-free" isn’t always sugar-free.

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