So folks, this is a question I get asked often. I love, love, love baking and finding new recipes that are pleasing to the palate, so by default, I love talking about baking. It’s very rewarding when I share a recipe and someone tells me what a hit it was. Not like I made up the recipe, but it’s fun when you can add something to someone’s go-to list.
So what, you ask, are my favorite sugar-free recipes? None. Not one. Zero. A list could only be shorter if you start counting into the negatives, which I could easily do by giving you some pretty downright gross sugar-free recipes (Frookies circa 1988 anyone? No? Bueller)? Ok, let’s move on.
Give me the real deal any day. “But you are a diabetic,” you are no doubt thinking to yourself. Yes I am, and a proud sugar eater at that. Listen, it all comes down to common sense, moderation (I am aware that moderation is a word everyone is no doubt sick of, but it stands the test of time, moderation is key so learn to love it), and knowing your body. Part of, ok let’s be honest, most of, the problem is that many people’s mindsets are stuck in the 80’s and 90’s when diabetes was referred to as sugar diabetes. I’m sure you’ve all heard an older person tell you how “they have the sugar.” That’s the problem. Diabetes isn’t so much about sugar as it is about carbohydrates, which just so happen to be made up of sugars (among other things, but that’s for another post).
What does that all mean? Well, for starters, it means that even “sugar-free” foods contain carbohydrates. When you are a diabetic, you count grams of carbohydrates, not grams of sugar, to determine how much insulin you should take. That is how diabetes works (hence why it drives me bananas when people talk about diabetics “not being allowed to eat sugar”).
For the sake of argument, let’s entertain the above rationale for a moment. If you only know the old school way of thinking, you wouldn’t bat an eye if I was eating sugar-free oreos, right? But, if I was eating a regular oreo, you would ask “are you allowed to eat that?” Here’s what you need to understand, and get ready for your mind to be blown. I gave you fair warning. A “sugar-free” oreo is not carbohydrate free. In fact, one sugar-free oreo contains 8.5g of carbohydrates which would raise my blood sugar if I didn’t take insulin to cover it. Here’s where the mind-blowing part comes in, there’s your second warning before reading on. One regular oreo contains 8.3g. Come again?!? That’s right friends, the sugar-free version contains more carbohydrates per oreo. That means I am taking exactly the same amount of insulin to cover both the regular and sugar-free versions. That means they will both raise my blood sugar the same amount. Before you write to me and tell me that the package says regular oreos contain 25g of carbohydrates and sugar-free oreos contain 17g, please read the labels carefully. For regular oreos, a serving size is 3 cookies; however, for sugar-free oreos, the serving size is only 2 cookies. Hmmm, now that’s curious. Could it be that they want you to think that sugar-free cookies have less carbohydrates? Whatever the reason, and this is just me personally, there is no way I am eating something that is “sugar-free” over something that contains sugar when the net carbs is what matters to my body and my insulin requirements remain the same. The sugar-free version may have no added sugar, but believe me, there are so many additives to make up for the sugar and to add taste. There are just too many unknowns about sugar substitutes and the body’s ability to digest them.
I’m not here to argue that you should not be eating sugar free if you are a diabetic. I’m simply telling you why I prefer to eat the regular versions of foods. There are tons of great recipes out there that are naturally low in sugar and carbohydrates. If something is naturally low in sugar, that’s one thing. It’s another when you start adding sugar substitutes and other questionable ingredients to make it sugar free. Just because something says sugar free does not mean it is good for diabetics. Like everything in life, this is something you need to make a decision based on your own research and what is best for you.
My only exception to the sugar-free thing is Diet Coke. Mmmm Mmmm! I love me some ice cold Diet Coke or a Diet Cherry Pepsi. I know, I know, any kind of soda (or pop where I’m from) is not good for you, but man, it’s good! It’s not so much of a sugar-free thing for me with this one as it is a taste thing. When I was diagnosed in 1988, I started drinking diet and never looked back. We were always a pop family, my dad with his Pepsi, and my mom with her Coke. I can remember taking my first sip of diet pop thinking there was no way I would ever get used to it. Now, that’s how I feel about regular. It just tastes like I’m eating spoonfuls of sugar, blah!
Like I said, it’s all about common sense and moderation. If I want a cookie, I eat a cookie. If I want a burger and fries, well gosh darnit, that’s what I am going to have. But, that’s not how I choose to eat on a regular basis, so I am not going to stress about it. I’ve learned, with patience and time, how my body works and how different foods affect it. I can’t stress enough how important it is to really know your body and know how insulin works. Understanding how insulin works is absolutely key to figuring this all out. As far as I’ve come, I’m still figuring things out all the time. My body works differently when I’m sick, when I’m tired, when I’m stressed, when I’m hot. It’s a lot to take in, but in order to stay on the right track, it’s necessary.
Have a great week everyone!