'Diabetic Friendly Foods' - Friend or Foe? BBC X-Ray Explores

Whether you've had diabetes for a short or long period of time, you might have tried products such as chocolate which are labelled as 'suitable for diabetics', 'No Added Sugar' or just plain old 'diabetic ...'. I was given some when I was diagnosed with diabetes, just under 14 years ago and have never forgotten my experience with them since (which wasn't a good one). Thankfully BBC Wales' X-Ray, a consumer affairs TV programme which fights for the rights of consumers, decided to take a closer look into the issue with the help of myself and also Diabetes UK.

The Beautiful Brecon Scenery
On Wednesday morning I headed up to Brecon, driving through the beautiful Brecon Beacons to meet the BBC team at an idyllic canal area in the heart of Brecon's town centre. The ducks were out in force on the canal, thankfully as was the sunshine and it was a very picturesque place to film for the upcoming programme. The subject of this particular episode of X-Ray to be shown in a fortnight's time, takes a look into whether the products labelled as suitable for diabetics, are actually suitable for us or not. I was invited to do an interview with one of X-Ray's presenters- Rhodri Owen who was lovely in real life as were the rest of the crew, about my experiences with diabetic chocolate...

Filming With Presenter Rhodri (with thanks to Amy at the BBC for taking this picture)

When I was diagnosed at 13 years old with type 1 diabetes, I think my whole family went into shock as we didn't know anything about diabetes at the time. But I will never forget how supportive they all were, especially with regards to my 'new low sugar diet'. I remember my Mum getting rid of the high sugar products from the fridge and the cupboards and making a special draw for hypos, and replacing everyday foods with low sugar and sugar free alternatives. In my family we've always celebrated Easter and Christmas in quite a big way and as many people know, both are holidays greatly centred around food. Thinking that they were being kind (which of course they were) my family which is quite big, decided to buy me diabetic chocolate as an alternative to the 'real' stuff. Thrilled that they had found something that I could have and thinking that it wouldn't contain any sugar that could cause my blood sugars to spike I gave it a try, but how wrong we all were.

Filming Next to the Canal (with thanks to Amy at the BBC for taking this picture)

As it was a special occasion my Mum didn't limit me to the amount of chocolate I was allowed to eat, not that she would let me go wild, but I was allowed to eat one Easter egg for example that day. But as many of you who have tried diabetic products before might have found, the chocolate had such a horrendous effect on my stomach that I haven't eaten it again since. I remember my Mum trying some as well because we had so much diabetic chocolate left over at Easter, which I refused to eat and it had an even worse effect on her and she ate even less of it than me. It wasn't long after this happened that I had a paediatric diabetes clinic appointment and I happened to mention to my diabetes nurse that I hadn't gotten on at all well with the diabetic chocolate. It tasted okay, but when I explained what it had done to my stomach her advice to me was that a little bit of 'real' chocolate in moderation, was better than diabetic products but to be sensible.

On their website regarding diabetic labelled foods, Diabetes UK state that; "Diabetes UK are calling for an end to the use of terms such as 'diabetic' or 'suitable for diabetics' on food labels. This position statement is intended to help people with diabetes and make more informed choices when buying foods, and to encourage manufacturers and retailers to label products responsibly. Diabetes UK and the European Commission (EC) have concluded that there is no role or benefit from the use of diabetic foods." (Diabetes UK, 2013). So it will be interesting to see what the BBC uncover regarding these not-so friendly alternatives to chocolate when the show airs on Monday 31st March!


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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