According to a diabetic baker, the 5 best sugar substitutes for baking

As someone with diabetes, a big sweet tooth and a set of anti-dietary values, sugar and sugar substitutes are something I’ve struggled with a bit. When I was seven, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and my blood sugar levels dropped. While in the hospital, I learned that sugary foods are now a problem for my body and found relief in candy-red cups of sugar-free jello cups. tasted sweet, but does not affect blood glucose like real sugar.

I came home to a candy store, which was quickly replaced by sugar-free versions. Missless pudding after school and sugar-free Swiss before bed. Sugar-free chocolate Santa at Christmas and rabbits on Easter. In restaurants, small pink and blue packets of white powder are mixed with lemon juice for sugar-free lemonade.

Theoretically, these sugar-free foods did not raise blood sugar and satisfied my sweet tooth. In fact, they conveyed an artificial intimacy of the real thing that tasted what I really wanted – never in fact Exactly – I kept coming back for more. But as I grew older, I lost weight due to an overdose of saccharin, a sour taste (hello, aspartame), a serious stomach upset (thank you, sugar alcohol), and a feeling of perpetual resentment. As a teenager, I realized that the wonderful promise of sugar substitutes was not true, and I rejected them all.

Today we are happy with sugar substitutes. First, I eat a lot of the real thing now. In my opinion, the demonization of sugar in recent years – like the harsh medical guidance I received as a child – has really damaged people’s attitudes towards food. I firmly believe that eating real sugar every day can be part of a balanced and varied diet, a lot of people with diabetes. At the same time, it is a biological fact that a lot of sugar processing is different for me. A healthy pancreas can easily handle the influx of simple sugars, but the insulin pump I use to mimic the pancreas is not perfect. (Even if I count my insulin dose and time, he can still hear my blood sugar.)

Sometimes this exchange is 100% worth it, and sometimes I want to enjoy a bowl of browns at home without thinking about my blood sugar, or after a while without feeling like shit – sugar substitutes help. “Sugar alternatives can be a useful tool for adding sweetness without a sharp rise in blood sugar,” says Hailey Crian, RD, a Boston-based diabetes care and education specialist and certified intuitive nutrition consultant.

Although I have avoided most sugar-free packaged foods, sugar substitutes have become a useful (and fun!) Ingredient in one of my favorite hobbies: baking. I like to mix creatively with recipes – loaves of bread, fast breads, cookies, bars – to reduce the glycemic load (effect on blood sugar) of the final product, without giving up the taste. I usually substitute three-quarters to three-quarters of the sugar in a sugar substitute recipe (except by adding tasty sources of fiber that are good for blood sugar, such as nuts, fruits, and wheat flour). Although it depends on the sweetness and the recipe, I have often noticed very simple effects on blood sugar (and the digestive system) and the cooking results are excellent.

At first, I was skeptical about using sugar substitutes because I was afraid it would conflict with my anti-diet and intuitive eating habits. But I realized I was giving up the sugar alternative because I felt like myself need to The diet reflects the black and white around the food that makes the culture so harmful. Today, I’ve embraced the nuance of being a diabetic sweet tooth lover, and see sugar substitutes not as a silver bullet, but as a tool to help balance the sometimes seemingly competitive advantages: enjoying food and life, while my body. As Crian puts it, “For someone living with diabetes, we need to keep our diet as liberal and enjoyable as possible, while keeping in mind our blood sugar. Using an alternative to sugar can sometimes support that goal.”

Of course, everyone’s relationship to body and food is different, and the physical and emotional effects of sugar substitutes are highly personalized, says Courtney Darsa, RD, a Manhattan-certified diabetes care and education specialist and owner of Nourishing NY. It really depends on a person’s health history, food history, tolerance and desire for various sweets.

The tip of the lesson is to look at how sugar substitutes affect your system – from how your blood sugar reacts to gastrointestinal disorders to what works best for you. After eating sugar substitutes, Darsa advises, “Ask yourself, ‘How do I feel mentally, physically, and emotionally?’ If you have diabetes and / or other sugar-related problems, it’s a good idea to discuss all of this with an endocrinologist, registered dietitian, or certified diabetes care and educator who understands how sugar substitutes can affect your body and your health. specialist.

All in all, if you want to try sweet alternatives in the kitchen (or in your morning coffee), let’s talk about the best sugar substitutes. There are many options on the market today and I have chosen them lot of of them. Fortunately, the overall quality has improved a lot in the last two decades – thank you, science! – and many of them are much closer to the real thing than Splendas, liquid stevia and maltitol in previous years. Again, these recommendations are based on my personal experience, but you need to trust your gut, monitor your blood sugar, and consult with your healthcare team (and taste buds!) About what works for you. Here are my favorite sugar substitutes.

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