Those on the low FODMAP (Fermentable, Oligo, Di, Mono-saccharides and Polyols) diet are able to eat plain old table sugar (aka sucrose) with little or no problem. But, for some reason I have trouble with it. Sucrose is made up of equal amounts of two types of monosaccharides, glucose and fructose. When there is an equal amount or more of glucose, it facilitates the absorption of fructose in the small intestine. This cuts down on the chances of bloating and other symptoms that occur when patients diagnosed with fructose malabsorption eat fructose. When I ate sucrose, I felt tired, got headaches, my stomach and joints hurt, and my stomach went from being (somewhat relatively) flat to looking three to four months pregnant. I was frustrated and did not want to let go of my morning cup of coffee with cream and sugar. Fortunately, a professor I know who studies fructose metabolic disorders recommended that I instead try dextrose (another name for glucose). I can absorb glucose and it does not require me to wear a loose top or dress the next day to hide the bloating. This is a wonderful option if you want sugar but cannot tolerate sucrose.
But, this whole process got me thinking. Do I want to use dextrose instead of sucrose when I cook and bake or should I/could I give up sugar? We all know that sugar tastes good but we also know that it is in too many processed foods and that the amount the typical American eats is not good for us. Maybe it was time for me to consider giving up sugar completely? I began strolling up and down the supermarket aisles reading labels and digging through recipes. I have found this to be hard because most packaged foods have sugar in them and even no sugar recipes use sugar, just a different type like maple syrup, honey, and agave syrup, which all make me feel sick and bloated. Slowly, with some research and playing in the kitchen, I am learning to be sugar free. I have even learned to drink my morning coffee with cream and no sugar. I am definitely not perfect because one, that is no fun and two, sometimes my craving for ice cream or chocolate is too strong to fight. And when that does happen, I TRY to limit the portion size and mentally prepare myself to deal with the physical consequences.
One challenge with going sugar free was finding a wheat-free bread without sugar, and I began to really miss the taste and texture of bread and the ease of making a sandwich for lunch. Fortunately, I found a bread recipe without sugar on the gluten-free girl thanksgiving app*. This bread has been a lifesaver. It is delicious with a wonderful moist texture unlike most gluten free breads. This recipe plus others has helped me be as truly sugar free as possible and in general I am learning to find and appreciate foods without sugar. However, it is good to know that dextrose is always an option….
What are your thoughts on sugar? Do you have any sugar and gluten free recipes that you can share?
*This app has a small fee which is worth it because it has a number of good recipes, but if you do not want to spend money, you can find recipes for free on their website. Also note, gluten-free girl recommends that you weigh the flour. This is a good suggestion and one to follow but if you do not have a scale and want to try the bread before investing in a scale, just convert the measurements and it still tastes great.
Photo by Umberto Salvagnin on Flickr