The general advice given to parents of Keto kids by their dietitian in regards to sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners is: “Use With Caution” and “Avoid Altogether Until Seizure Control”!
Soooo, it can be a bit confusing on how exactly to proceed in incorporating sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners into everyday use and how to cut through all the marketing hype on low carb products so you only use foods that won’t effect blood-sugar levels or digestive systems.
Marketing and ads for low-carb products claim that sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners are low in calories, have no impact on blood-sugar levels and are low in carbohydrates. Sounds to good to be true, right? Here the details matter! Each sugar alcohol and artificial sweetener needs to be looked at individually. So read those labels carefully (even on toothpaste, vitamins, no-calorie water, gum, and prepared meats) and as a rule of thumb use mainly Stevia and Erythritol sweetened foods.
Truvia is a common brand of sweetener that mixes those two. Note: some kids have a Stevia or Erythritol sensitivity, so it is up to the parents to decide, by trial and error, if it will work for their individual kid.
Our dietician advised us against using any sugar alcohols at all, but gave the green light to the artificial sweeteners sucralose and aspartame. After quite a few hours of research, we decided to take a different route. We limit Drake’s use of sucralose for no real reason other than the fact that we don’t fully trust it. And altogether avoid aspartame because of the controversy associated with it and studies linking it to cancer.
Our research showed us that within the category of sugar alcohols there is actually quite a bit of difference. We came to the conclusion that Maltitol, Glycerol, Lactitol, Isomalt, Sorbitol, and Xylitol should all be avoided for the potential digestive problems they have been reported in causing — such as cramps, diarrhea and leakage (yuck!). Also, many of them are high in carbohydrates, despite marketing claims, and can kick you out of ketosis by spiking your glycemic index! Check out this link for more information.
It is defiantly hard to cut through all the marketing hype of No-Sugar and Zero-Carbs products. They often rely on subtracting the sugar alcohols to arrive at the low carb number. But in actuality it depends on whether the specific sugar alcohols can be metabolized by the body which then impacts blood-sugar levels and then is counted as a carb. So avoid the sugar alcohols I listed above and stick to Stevia and Erythritol.
Along with many other parents, we have become big fans of Truvia. I use it in a number of recipes and love the fact that my keto kid can still eat sweet yummy cookies, brownies, cupcakes, fat-bombs and muffins. Even better, I’m the one in control of the amount used.
We have found for our own health and for Drake’s that we buy very few processed and pre-packaged foods (with a few exceptions, see “Short-Cuts”). But we do have a huge sweet tooth for chocolate! Drake can get through any holiday or birthday party with no complaints — as long as he has chocolate. Chocolate is very high in fat and would be a great keto food if not for the sugar. Lily’s chocolate makes chocolate bars and chocolate chips that skip that sugar and use stevia or erythritol instead. I melt 2 rectangles of lily’s dark chocolate on a pecan breakfast cookie in the microwave and then let it harden in the fridge for an hour, wow, it tastes great! It’s ratio only drops from 4 : 1 to 3.9 : 1, sweet!
Hopefully they don’t find that Stevia and Erythritol cause cancer or some other problem anytime in the future. Fingers crossed.