Like many people these days I am consciously trying to cut back my sugar consumption, for both health and vanity!
My health reasons are simple – I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and I also had Gestational Diabetes with both my pregnancies, both of which give a higher risk factor for developing Type 2 Diabetes than the average person. Cutting out sugar is one of the best ways to win the battle against that disease!
Vanity reasons are the usual suspects – sugar packs a punch with premature aging and calories.
So, all good reasons to cut back on sugar – but with IBS and following a low FODMAP diet, this is treacherous territory!
The sugar-free versions of chocolates and sweets you find in the supermarket are laden with polyols, such as Maltitol, Sorbitol, Isomalt and Xylitol. These sugar alternatives are very difficult to digest which is why they are low in calories however, cause chaos for those who suffer IBS.
In the quest for a natural sugar alternative I tried Natvia (Truvia in the US) – a blend of stevia and erythritol – also known as granulated stevia. I tried to research as best I could to work out if erythritol was a FODMAP. The best I could find is a description on wikipedia which suggests that there are very few side effects as it is readily absorbed. So, I used Natvia in my baking, hot chocolates, and also enjoyed chocolate bars which are sweetened with Natvia. The end result is that it caused me many digestive dramas – nausea, cramps, and constipation. So, having tried and tested erythritol myself I can conclude with certainty that for me, erythritol is a FODMAP. So for others with IBS, please be very very cautious!
When looking for a natural sweetener I now use pure stevia and combine it with rice malt syrup – I find this combination works well as stevia on its own can often have a bitter after-taste. Read this post about rice malt syrup as it is an amazing low fructose, low GI alternative to honey and table sugar in baking and is becoming more common as the main sweetener in processed snacks, in Australia at least.
All the best,