In observance of National Diabetes Awareness Month we will be focusing on the problems facing our diabetic patients. While diabetic patients experience complications with their feet, it is also common for diabetics to ask their doctors about the proper diet for diabetics. A problem that we frequently see diabetic patients having is being able to identify hidden sources of sugar in their diet.
Americans consume around 20 teaspoons of sugar a day on average, that adds up to over 75 lbs of sugar annually! While it is easy to identify sugars in candies, cookies, and cakes there are several potential sources of sugar in a diet that may go overlooked. Naturally occurring sugars in fruits and dairy products are often overlooked, which is why it is so important to check the nutritional information on the label.
Added sugars are hard to spot because they go by so many names, sources of added sugar may go by one of the following:
Agave nectar, anhydrous dextrose, barley malt, beet sugar, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, cane sugar, caramel, carob syrup, coconut palm sugar, confectioners powdered sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystalline fructose, date sugar, dehydrated cane juice, dextrin, dextrose, dried oat syrup, evaporated cane juice crystals, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, fructose, glucose, golden syrup, gum syrup, high fructose corn syrup, honey, inverted sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, muscovado, palm sugar, pancake syrup, raw sugar, refined sugar, simple syrup, sorghum syrup, sucanat, sucrose, treacle, turbinado, white granulated sugar
As you can see food manufacturers have found many ways to sneak added sugars into prepared foods. What can be even more confusing is the label “sugar free”, frequently include sugar alcohols, that while they have fewer carbohydrates or calories than sugar, can still affect a diabetics blood sugar. Examples include:
Sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol, lactitol, isomalt, glycerol.
Remember, the easiest way to control the amount of sugars in your food is to eat at home when possible and stick with simple foods, like plain yogurt or plain oatmeal. You can always add spices and fresh fruit (preferable to dried fruits, whose sugar concentration is typically higher) so you know exactly how much sugar is going into your foods.
For diabetics who have trouble making these decisions your doctor will most likely recommend you see a dietician, a specialist that can help you create a customized diet plan to not only help you control your diabetes, but so you can live a healthy and happy life as well.