live with physical challenges.
I am NOT a DOCTOR!!! I don't even play one on TV!!! It is my goal to live a more healthy lifestyle. Living well and being happy is what this blog is all about.

"Nothing,' wrote Tolstoy, 'can make our life, or the lives of other people, more
beautiful than perpetual kindness."

- Gretchen Rubin

I write about my own experiences and what works (or does not) for me. Nothing I write is to be taken as medical advice.

Only your health care provider, personal physician,Disclaimer:
I am not a doctor - I don't even play one on TV! This
or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sugar-free Is Not Carbohydrate-free

For many years I've known that eating healthy did not mean choosing those processed foods that are labeled "sugar-free".  The fact is, there are more carbohydrates in those processed "sugar-free" items than in the original product filled with sugar!  Please do not be fooled into thinking you are making a healthy choice when you choose these "sugar-free" alternatives. 

We've been discussing wise snacking for diabetics on our facebook page this week, and I've gotten some very insightful information from many different sources.  Today I'd like to share just a few of those comments with you.


Health Coach, Chris Gatten, had this to say:

Always having some snacks on hand...my Dad (who is diabetic) has found that venturing out for the day is much more manageable when he actually keeps some nuts, carrots, fruit..something..in a to-go lunch bag. It makes his days really worry free to not have to deal with the stress of a sugar crash. Reading labels is a pain in the rear too, so he just tries to aim for unpackaged foods. The less removed it is from nature (the more processed), the more likely it's going to impact your health. All the medical terms really boggled him in the beginning, but once he figured out some staple foods to keep on hand, and made sure he was not forgetting to have a snack, his weight has dropped AND he is no longer having issues with blood sugar. It's controlled with medication and diet now.

Sugar-free is an awful label. It indicates a safe food, without taking into consideration that typically, it's higher in fat and artificial sweeteners that can either still cause a spike, or have a questionable reputation with regards to their safety! It's a BAD label. what is not looked at is total carbohydrate ratings, which is really what matters as a whole on the label! Total carbohydrates are what can get you into trouble, so reading THAT number is always more important than just throwing the sugar-free items in the cart and hoping for the best. Another thing, Fiber plays an integral role in slowing down absorption, so making a point of keeping lots of fiber in your diet is SO important. Fiber that is GOOD for you = fruits and veggies.   


Here's a comment from Allyson Goris Kennedy:

Lately I've been helping my elderly neighbors ~ The husband, 90 was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes 35 years ago, and has had the same (knuckleheaded) endocrinologist since. I am totally livid that my neighbor has been told all these years to only check his blood glucose 1-2 times per day and to eat sugar-free items and avoid sweets. Not until I educated my neighbor, did he know that he should AVOID sugar free items as they tend to have more carbohydrates and alcohol sugars, wreaking havoc on blood glucose levels.  My neighbor tried my way ~ Lower carbs at meals, etc., have that cookie or piece of cake - just not the whole package of cookies or the entire cake, checking blood glucose more often and AVOIDING sugar-free. His blood glucose levels have gone from 300-400's down to 80's - low 100's. What pisses me off even still is that the endocrinologist is trying to take credit for my neighbor's much improved blood glucose levels, instead of apologizing for trying to play God with my neighbor's life and not educating him properly.  My advice to all with Type 2 Diabetes ~ If your endocrinologist has not discussed carbohydrates with you and how you can lower your A1c (or even reverse it), then fire that endocrinologist and find one who has earned their medical degree.  Don't tolerate an alleged doctor who reprimands you for having this disease. No one ever wakes up in the morning and says "I think I'll eat a poor diet and get myself Type 2 Diabetes".  Everyone has their own story and should be treated with respect and empathy by their doctors. Oh, and one other thing ~ An A1c does not determine whether you have Type 2 (or Type 1, which you can be diagnosed with at any age/weight); An A1c test only determines your average blood glucose levels over the course of three months. They have to do an actual blood test (and read the results), to determine whether you have the actual disease.


When I was a newly-diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic, I felt as though I was just thrown into a very deep, dark hole.  I not only developed a sort of depression about my diagnosis, but felt practically no sense of direction and had no guidance from my doctor or anyone in the office.  I had one advocate in my corner, and she was a Diabetic Educator.  She was one of the good ones (not that I'm biased) - because she did not start pushing all of the "sugar-free" products in my face.  She took a more holistic approach to re-educating me about nutrition.  I'm so thankful for her.

The first thing she said was, "You need to begin to think green", and I admit I did not have any idea what she was talking about.  Green???  Green lights mean go.  Green on March 17th means it must be St. Patrick's Day.  Green???  Then she went on to explain an Alkaline lifestyle to me.  The word "diet" never came out of her mouth.  She kept referring to it as a "lifestyle", which indicated to me that this is not something that I do for a while and then when I'm where I want to be - I quit.  This was an everyday process and would be with me forever.

Begin small.  Give up the soda habit.  Most of you know that I am not a fan of soda - either regular or diet.  It isn't just the massive amount of sugar found in regular soda, but it's the awful chemicals in diet soda that I don't think anyone should be putting in their body. 

Replace those sodas with lemon water.  If you need more of a fizzy drink, make your lemon water with 1/2 water and 1/2 seltzer.  Squeeze 1/4 lemon into that and add some Stevia if you want a little sweet on top of that.  If you want to add 1/4 lime to make a lemon-lime fizzy drink - then great!  Go for it!!! 

Adding lemon to your diet is one of the most alkalizing things you can do for your body!  It's also not terribly expensive (compare the cost of a lemon to the price you pay for your soda habit).  This is not difficult - but it takes a desire to change on your part.  In my case, I had to literally hit bottom with a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes to finally change.  Do not be me - change before it comes to that!

Finding healthy snacks is possible when you have Type 2 Diabetes.  You do have to do some planning, but it can be done.  Most of us have our "regular foods" that we know we can trust to not raise our blood glucose - and those are the ones we go back to.  That's okay.  There are enough healthy options out there that we usually do not get bored. 

Fresh apple slices and natural peanut butter is one of my favorite snacks.  I also like raw broccoli and homemade veggie dip.  I do not buy the veggie dip they sell already packaged at the store.  Most of those have MSG in them.  It causes migraines in those sensitive to it - and lucky me - I am quite sensitive to MSG. 

I'm a huge fan of green smoothies, and since I work from home, I have the luxury of drinking a smoothie for an afternoon snack.  I realize that many of you have to carry a snack with you to work or wherever you have to go during the day.  It's impractical to think that a green smoothie would travel well.  Hauling the ingredients and the blender wherever you are going doesn't sound terribly convenient to me either.    

Lean protein makes an excellent snack.  A boiled egg, a piece of meat or fish the size of your palm, a handful of nuts (any nuts are good but walnuts are particularly good).  Peanut butter is good - but buy the "natural" kind.  Don't buy one that is made with hydrogenated oil.  Read the back label.  One of my favorite foods for lunch or a snack is a tossed salad with regular Blue Cheese Dressing.  Cheese is a low carbohydrate food to snack on.  None of these foods cause a spike in blood glucose levels. 

Since the amount of fiber we incorporate into our diet every day is so crucial, the key to incorporating meats and dairy into your lifestyle is moderation.  If you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (or drink them in the form of smoothies), then there is still room for the proteins and higher fat foods as well.  Using portion control with meats and dairy is important.  Fruits still have a certain amount of natural sugar so should be eaten sparingly, but vegetables can be eaten more liberally.

It was thought at one time that these higher fat foods were the cause of high cholesterol, but the tide on that school of thought is slowly turning.  It's now thought that foods such as cinnamon rolls, cakes, cookies and other pastries and sweets are the culprits behind high LDL cholesterol levels.  It is now thought that white flour and white sugar are to blame for arterial blockages.  Have we finally seen the light?    

The thing for we as diabetics to remember is to read labels and look at the carbohydrates in the foods that are packaged.  I find it is just easier to choose fresh foods and eat as much raw food as possible.  I don't like second-guessing what someone else has put in a package.  I enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables.  I find myself reaching for an apple almost every day for a snack.  If I have some natural peanut butter I grab it, but if I don't, I just eat the apple without it.  It's like Chris Gatten said:  

The less removed it is from nature (the more processed), the more likely it's going to impact your health. 

If you're going to eat something that is processed and packaged, please read the label carefully.  Remember - sugar-free is NOT carbohydrate-free!  Aim for fiber-rich foods and incorporate some lean protein.  Dairy is not bad in moderation.  Natural food - in balance.

Sugar-free candy is NOT a good gift for a diabetic.


Love Nostalgia???  Are you just old and remember a lot of things like me???  Today is OLD STUFF DAY!!!!!  If you appreciate gizmos and gadgets from years past, or maybe you like a certain model of older car, today is the day to celebrate
all things old!  Have fun!!!


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