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Sweeteners: Limiting Your Intake

Sweets: who doesn’t love them? Whether it comes in the form of a bit of candy or a slice of birthday cake, sweets have come to be an important part of the American diet. It’s critical for everyone to limit their intake of sweet foods if they want to maintain good health, but once you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes sweets can become a big issue.

“You have diabetes. You can’t eat that!” says Aunt Jane at Christmas. We’re all too familiar with the things we hear from the “diabetes food police”. Those types of comments, while well-meaning, can be a big source of frustration in our lives. No one wants to be told what they can and cannot eat. But the reality is that processed carbohydrates can often have a quick and detrimental effect on our blood glucose. Sweets made with white flour and sugar can be difficult to deal with. So what’s a person to do?

Personally, I worked hard to find lower carb alternatives to the sweet foods I used to enjoy. Years ago, I even went so far as to buy a box of sugar-free chocolate candies! Anyone who has over-indulged on sugar-free candy knows how that went. Ugh! Artificial sweeteners can have a detrimental effect on your digestive system but there may be another reason to avoid them.

This article reveals some issues with artificial sweeteners that should make you sit up and take notice. A study was done in mice, and then in humans, to determine what affect artificial sweeteners have on the gut microbiome (the necessary “bugs” in your gut). Essentially what they determined was that artificial sweeteners actually cause people to develop glucose intolerance where sugar did not. When the researchers looked at the data of 400 people participating in an ongoing nutritional study, they found that “long-term users of artificial sweeteners tended to have higher blood glucose levels and other parameters often associated with metabolic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver.” Hmmm.

There is definitely more in the article/study which you can read on your own if you like, but all this left me with the thought “Now what do I do?” It’s hard enough to deal with type 2 diabetes and all the changes we have to make, but quit taking away our pleasures, dang it! Here are some of my thoughts on this:

  • It’s important that we learn to taper off and not rely so much on sweets, regardless of what they’re made with. Sweets should be a “now and then” treat and not something we indulge in on a regular basis.
  • Try different sweeteners. Having a small bit of something made with real sugar is fine, if it fits in your plan. Try using Stevia or monk fruit sweeteners which are natural.
  • Try cutting back on how much sweetener you use. (I make some desserts now with as much as half the amount of sweetener that is called for in the recipe.)
  • It gets easier as time goes on. My tastes have changed dramatically in the 10+ years I’ve been living with diabetes.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you are having trouble letting go of treats. Give yourself a break but you should begin attempting to cut back.

This is just one study and there is a lot more research to do in this area, but it wouldn’t be smart to ignore the findings to this point. It won’t hurt to make a change and it might just help.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.