Invisible Carbs – The healthy foods you’re eating may be deceiving you

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Do you ever feel like the carb content of the foods you eat is deceiving? Do you see spikes in your blood sugar and think, “What I ate shouldn’t have had the impact it did?” Rest assured you’re not alone and there are many factors contributing to this. Some of these factors may be out of your control. Hidden ingredients and deceiving food packagings can set you back. These are the invisible carbs you need to understand before you feel the impact of consuming them.

Hidden ingredients such as starches, are often used as binders in meats or thickeners in creamed soups or stews. Processed meats, such as sandwich meats, sausages, and bacon often contain sugar that you may not even realize. Condiments are another hidden carb culprit: balsamic vinegar, BBQ sauce, Sriracha, Teriyaki, and Ketchup all contain carbs that can add up quickly.

Hidden ingredients aren’t the only source of trickery when it comes to carbs though! What about packaging which can be just as, if not more, deceiving?

Consider products marketed as “sugar free” or “diabetic friendly,” for example. These products often contain sugar alcohols. While sugar alcohols can have less impact on blood sugar than sugar itself they can still significantly impact blood glucose, especially when combined with other carb containing ingredients and/or when eaten in excess.

Net carbs, is another example of food package misdirection. “Net carbs” is not officially recognized or agreed upon by nutrition experts, but rather a term often used by food companies trying to combat the low carb craze era and make packaging more appealing to those who are watching carb intake. What do you need to understand about this term? While a package may contain 20 grams of total carbohydrates, the packaging states “zero net carbs” because the company is subtracting grams of fiber and sugar alcohols. Don’t let this lull you into thinking that the item will have no impact on your blood sugar. They will simply have less impact.

“The fact of the matter is, carbohydrates are going to affect our blood sugars and the portion size and total carbohydrate content is what we need to focus on.”

The fact of the matter is, carbohydrates are going to affect our blood sugars and the portion size and total carbohydrate content is what we need to focus on. Simple carbohydrate foods with a high amount of fiber will have a much lower impact on blood sugar spikes than those carbohydrate based foods with far less or no fiber at all. The general rule of thumb is to subtract the total grams of fiber and half the grams of sugar alcohols and use that as the total carb count for that item.

“The general rule of thumb is to subtract the total grams of fiber and half the grams of sugar alcohols and use that as the total carb count for that item.”

Now that you are more aware of how hidden ingredients and invisible carbs affect your blood sugars and how to weed through food packaging marketing, you will feel less deceived by your diet choices and more empowered to navigate through the carb conundrum of why foods are affecting you differently than you had anticipated. It takes time to learn and understand our own bodies and how foods affect them, but don’t let that discourage you or set you back.

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  1. Jennifer Dust says:

    What an awesome article! So many times I have picked up food thinking it was going to be “sugar free” but that didn’t mean that it was diabetic friendly. It can be really exhausting having to constantly watch out and pay attention to how things get snuck into foods.

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