I don't often do this, but the title of this blog is "Diary of a Dietitian" so you are about to be introduced to my neurotic side. Sweet R stopped at the store to buy a few things, including bread, a few days ago. I usually get Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat and that's what he typically buys because he knows I like it. I went to make him a sandwich and realized he had accidentally bought the "sugar free" Nature's Own 100% Whole Grain bread (the package is almost identical except for the darn "sugar free" label. Which led to me leaping on my soap box and educating him on what I think about sugar free bread (and most sugar free products). **Please note, I was not upset with him, and was not fussing at him - just ranting in general about the erroneous ways of the food industry :)** I know you are dying to hear my thoughts on this - not to worry, I will not leave you in suspense for long!
I'll start by giving you a picture of the nutrition profiles of the two products so you can make some observations for yourself:
Serving size 1 slice (26gm) 1 slice (25gm)
# servings/pkg 22 slices 18 slices
Calories 50 50
Carbohydrates 10gm 11gm
Dietary Fiber 2gm 2gm
Sugars 1gm 0gm
Sugar alcohol (maltitol) 0gm 1gm
Protein 4gm 3gm
Fat 1gm 1gm
Whole grains 14gm 12gm
First of all, who do you think the target market for "sugar free" bread is? #1 - Diabetics. #2 - people watching their weight/trying to be healthy. These 2 categories encompass a large percentage of the population so you can understand the company's strategy.
I just got off on a biochemistry tangent but deleted... you're welcome... The long and short of it is diabetics are supposed to monitor their carbohydrate intake. (Hear me here: Diabetics need carbohydrates, just like people without diabetes need carbohydrates. We all should eat balanced diets, which is basically all the diabetic diet is.) The "sugar free" bread has 1 more gram of carb (which are all ultimately broken down into "sugar" or glucose) than the regular kind, but is lacking that 1gm of sugar that the regular kind does have. Instead of 1 gm of a normal simple sugar, it substitutes a sugar alcohol (maltitol) - a chemically altered sugar molecule that has 2 calories/gram versus 4 calories/gram of regular sugar. It also can cause gastric distress (really only if in large quantities). Is it significant that there is 1 more gram of carb in the bread that people likely regard as more "diabetic friendly"? Not really, other than the fact that it is misleading people to think that it better. PLUS!! The sugar free kind is 16 oz. versus the regular kind that is 20 oz... and they are either the same price or the SF kind is slightly more expensive - so you're paying more (or the same) for less bread and MORE carbs. And a large percentage of the population with diabetes are minorities who often have lower incomes or are elderly on fixed/low incomes! The injustice and irresponsibility just hurts!!!!!!
On a side note, I really try to keep my nutrition-related opinions to myself unless asked. I have to hold myself back at times from giving strangers advice at the grocery store. I know they could benefit from my vast wealth of knowledge... right?
Phew! So glad I got that off my chest :) Now maybe my feathers will un-ruffle.