Did you know babies under one year of age shouldn’t be given honey? I saw that warning on a honey container recently and didn’t know why. Honey may contain bacterial spores that cause botulism in the wee ones.
Paleo diet aficionados can satisfy a sweet tooth with honey or fruit. Unfortunately for people with diabetes, those items can spike blood sugars too high. Honey, for instance, has 17 grams of carbohydrate in one tablespoon (15 ml), which is more carb than in a tablespoon of white granulated table sugar.
Most diabetics eating paleo-style will need some limit on consumption of honey and fruit. Or they could take more diabetes drugs to control blood glucose elevations. Again, unfortunately, we don’t know the long-term health effects of most of our diabetes drugs.
How about getting a sweet fix with artificial sweeteners? Paleo purists would say “fuggedaboudit.” In theory, that’s fine. But many paleo followers with diabetes won’t forget about it. They’ll use artificial sweeteners, aka sugar substitutes.
If you’re gonna use ‘em, think about stevia. It’s derived from a natural source, the leaves of a plant in South America. Admittedly, our forebears in eastern Africa wouldn’t have had access to it 50,000 years ago. After the plant has been processed, it’s certainly a highly refined product going against the grain of the paleo movement. Furthermore, one of the stevia market leaders in U.S. (Truvia) is mixed with erythritol. To help you feel better about the erythritol (a sugar alcohol), note that it is found naturally in some fruits. Another stevia commercial product in the U.S. is Pure Via.
Dietitian Brenna at her Eating Simple blog reviewed sugar impostors in January, 2012. She favored stevia over the others, at least for non-diabetics who were tempted. Brenna also linked to a Mayo Clinic review of artificial sweeteners.
Note that sugar alcohols like erythritol have the potential to raise blood sugar levels. They shouldn’t raise it as much as table sugar, however. With regard to sugar alcohols, Dr. Richard K. Bernstein urges caution, if not total avoidance. Use your meter to see how they effect you.
If you’re in the habit of using one or two teaspoons of honey to sweeten tea or coffee, you’re blood sugar levels should be more stable and manageable if you use stevia instead. Dr. Bernstein gives the green light to stevia powder or liquid, along with saccharin tablets or liquid, aspartame tablets, and sucralose tablets, acesulfame-K, and neotame tablets. Stevia is the only one close to “natural.”