JUST A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR ALCOHOL — NO MORE THAN THAT!

Werther’s Original Caramel Apple Sugar-Free Hard Candies

Werther's Original Caramel Apple Sugar Free Hard Candies

Pros: Buttery feel, natural sweet/tart flavor

Cons: “Laxative Effect” — need I say more?

When I first received a Diabetes Type 2 diagnosis, my primary care physician wasn’t prepared for my initial reaction: I cried. He thought I’d be a trooper because I was dealing with multiple sclerosis (MS) in a clear-headed, upbeat manner. Little did he know that there was so much more going on than comparing a reaction to two chronic diseases.

MS and diabetes are two completely different diseases that can occasionally share symptoms but not the core definitions.

Diabetes Type 2 occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce any (or enough) insulin because it either doesn’t recognize that there is a rise in blood glucose or it can’t produce insulin anymore. In some cases, changing one’s eating habits is enough to stop diabetes in its tracks – at least for a few more years. Most doctors will remind their patients with diabetes that it only takes a 10 percent weight loss to make a big difference in the amount of medication or insulin needed to maintain healthy blood glucose numbers (the readout from a blood sugar finger test that reads one’s current levels or the lab result from an A1C test that reads the average blood sugar level for a three-month period). The bottom line: Diabetes is about food. No matter how you dice, splice, measure, or dress it up, you really are what you eat.

MS has very little to do with food – at least initially. It’s an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. Autoimmune diseases like MS mistake a system within one’s body for a foreign invader. In MS, the T-cells attack myelin, the protective covering of nerve cells. When the myelin is eaten away, the nerve cells don’t send signals correctly. I compare it to a toaster with a frayed power cord. Sometimes you get toast, sometimes you don’t, and sometimes you get charcoal briquettes instead of toast.

Some people believe that there are diets that will improve the prognosis in MS (Montel Williams, for example. They will look for a chemically balanced diet to stay “out of a wheelchair.” Because MS progresses differently in every person, who knows if the low-fat, high-protein, gluten-free, carb killer diet created magic? The person might have gone into remission spontaneously just before starting the new diet. The point is that losing weight will not cure or even mitigate myelin damage due to MS.

Now you know why I was stoic for MS and crumpled for diabetes.

I’m always hunting for a sugar-free anything that will satisfy the cravings that come between lunch and dinner. There’s no hunger involved – simply the need for a certain texture, flavor, or temperature in my mouth. I saw Werther’s Original Caramel Apple Sugar Free hard candies during my monthly diabetic-friendly nosh hunt. I’ve had Werther’s Original candies years ago but not the Caramel Apple flavor. I bought the 2.75-ounce bag for about $3. There are about two dozen candies in each bag.

The candies are individually wrapped in Granny Apple green-trimmed sealed plastic. Each oval candy is about the size of a coat button. It’s a perfect size for an adult or older child, but it could present a choking hazard for a small child. The color is a swirl of Granny Apple green and golden tan. There are no sharp corners, so it easily molds to the shape of your mouth while it melts. I’ve never actually thought to time it, but I think it lasts about 10 minutes or so before completely dissolving. The flavor lasts to the end and satisfies my sweet craving for at least an hour or two. For that reason, it generally will take me an entire afternoon of picking at the bag before I hit the five-candy serving size.

The flavor is better than most sugar free hard candies. There is a buttery feel to the candy that hits the mark. However, if you’re used to eating caramel flavored hard candies, the tart apple infusion will take a moment or so to get used to. The sweetener used is a sugar alcohol formula. There is a caveat with this sweetener – a “laxative effect.” If you’re not used to sugar alcohol sweeteners, you may want to stick by the bathroom just in case you discover your sensitivity to the laxative effect the hard way. The first time I had sugar free candy using sugar alcohol, I was unfamiliar with the possible side effect. I bought some chocolate truffles at a mall kiosk and fell in love with them. I ate many more than I should have while waiting for my ride home. It was very lucky that I didn’t get the full effect until after getting home.

Nutrition Facts and Ingredients

Nutrition Facts: serving size, 5 pieces; calories, 40 (calories from Fat 10); total fat, 1.5 gram (saturated fat 1 gram, trans fat, 0 grams); total carbohydrates, 14 grams; dietary fiber, 0 grams; sugars, 0 grams; sugar alcohols, 14 grams; and protein, 0 grams.

Ingredients: Isomalt, butter, cream, natural and artificial flavor, emulsifier soy lecithin, acidifier lactic acid, acidity regulator sodium lactate, sweetener acesulfame-K, FD&C yellow 5, and blue 1.

Allergy information: contains milk and soybeans.

All things considered, Werther’s Original Caramel Apple Sugar Free Hard Candies are tasty morsels when you can’t have the real thing.

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