Nearly every packaged product has a Nutrition Facts Panel, usually located at the back of the label. It starts with the servings size and number of those per container as well as the amount of calories. This is a good chance to compare your actual portion size with the serving size and then decide how many servings you’ve consumed.
For example, a 28-ounce jar of Natural Jif Creamy Peanut Butter Spread lists Serving Size as 2 tablespoons or 33g, and there are about 24 servings in the jar. Coincidentally the same serving size as Open Pit barbecue sauce. Wow, it’s quite a generous serving size. The rest of ingredients are listed on the amounts per single serving size along with daily values (DV). Such as 16g of fat, 0 cholesterol, 80 mg sodium, 8g carbs including 2g fiber, and 7g protein. And then a few vitamins and minerals.
I have noticed that most people are too much in a hurry to even check the expiration dates, much less read the Nutrition Facts panels. Of course, a multitude of information printed on the labels can be confusing. For example, sugar-free and no sugar added products. Despite sounding similar, these two aren’t the same which can be crucial in diabetes management.
‘No sugar added’ means that no sugar was added during food processing. However these products can still contain sugar naturally. The examples include honey, molasses, high-fructose corn syrup, malt syrup and cane syrup. Some ice creams can be labeled as “no sugar added”, however they do contain sugar in the form of lactose which is milk sugar.
A little known fact: milk, despite not tasting sweet, contains sugar naturally (lactose). Ever heard of lactose intolerance? This happens with some folks whose body lacks enzymes to digest lactose, therefore lactose comes down undigested and causes trouble.
“Sugar free” foods mean that they contain less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving.
They can still, however, contain artificial sugars and sugar alcohols; the latter can bring your BG numbers up.
Such was the case with me. Shortly after being diagnosed, I purchased a bottle of “sugar-free” pancake syrup that I happily used with my hot cereal. For a while I was proud of myself for being able to locate a product that is sugar-free and still tastes sweet. However my pride was short-lived after my BG numbers went up. I then took a close look at the nutrition label and discovered that this syrup contained sugar alcohol. I don’t remember its name only that it ended with -ol, and the syrup did contain carbs. My call to the Diabetes Educator confirmed this fact.
Bottom line, it’s important to take your time and have a close look at the Nutrition Panel if you’re monitoring your intake of certain nutrients, including carbs. This can make a dramatic difference, especially if a label sounds too good to be true.
This post was written in response to The Daily Post Prompt: DRAMATIC