Sugar is something I have spoken about on here before. Now, let me reassure you, I am not about to condemn everyone who uses sugar! When I speak of such things, it is merely my own experience. When I wrote Sugar & Me it was in direct relation to my own health and the medical condition I live with.
Following that post, I went on to share Sugar Substitutes with you. What I hadn’t discovered then, was another substitute that now sits on my shelf. Despite its rather scientific-sounding name, Xylitol is a natural product.
Xylitol is derived from the Greek word ‘xyl’ meaning wood as it was first discovered in Birch Wood after the Second World War. Birchwood xylitol remains the highest quality xylitol.
In the last year or two, typically, since I turned 40, I have found it harder to control my Insulin Resistant PCOS symptoms. I came across Xylitol when researching ways to help the blood sugar dips I was experiencing. Anyone who experiences that sensation will know it really is a horrible feeling and the instant reaction is to reach for something high sugar to stabilise again. It isn’t a good solution long term. Also, for me, sugar feeds my PCOS symptoms. Now, I know there are people out there who will say sugar is sugar, regardless of where it comes from. I’m not here to argue about it, I am merely sharing what happens to me and my body. If I consume alot of sugar, in particular the hidden sugar, the refined white stuff, the heavily processed variety; my symptoms respond. That’s just the way it is and I am living with PCOS long enough now to know what feeds it and what doesn’t. No two people are the same, it may be different for the woman next to me who has the same condition.
Xylitol has a glycaemic index* (GI) value of just 7, which is about 10 times lower than sugar and 4 times lower than fructose, therefore it has a less dramatic effect on blood glucose levels.
Being completely honest, I thought twice about sharing my experience with Xylitol in my kitchen. I have also spoken about Body Positivity and its an area that can be quite disillusioned. It would often come across, in my experience to be a rather black and white scene, where one can be condemned for merely suggesting a certain food, like sugar, may not be for you. However, I have always endeavoured to be honest here and I firmly believe that we all have to do what’s right for us. If at the end of the day, your legs are like jelly, your breathing laboured, and you are sitting at the side of the road waiting on your husband to collect you because of a rapid dip in blood sugar, the last thing you will feel is body positive. When the people at Total Sweet sent me some of their Xylitol to try, I decided this would be the ice breaker to share my experience using it.
Total Sweet is a natural sugar alternative whose sole ingredient is xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alternative, which looks, tastes and feels just like sugar, but has some surprising health benefits. Xylitol’s totally natural and, in the case of Total Sweet, made from sustainable European birch and beech wood. It has 40% less calories than sugar, less than half the ‘available’ carbohydrates, a GI value of just 7 and actively promotes healthy teeth – making it ideal for dieters, those with diabetes* and anyone looking to cut down on the amount of sugar in their lives.
* Please note that there are several different types and severities of diabetes. If you are in any way unsure as to whether xylitol is suitable for your particular needs please consult your health advisor or doctor.
Now as with all the sweeteners I use, it’s about balance. Nice things are something we all like, I just don’t go mad with them. In saying that, baking is what I do best. I have successfully replaced sugar with xylitol, like for like in cakes, cookies and scones. Occasionally I have used it in porridge, though I prefer honey or maple syrup for that. For years, when I’ve baked birthday cakes, I’ve declined to have any. Since I started using Xylitol in the occasional cake, I can happily join in with my family.
For me, the use of Xylitol is not in relation to some fad diet. It is a health-related choice. I don’t use it in everything, I still regularly bake with sugar. Other sugar substitutes are also used in my kitchen. That being said, Xylitol is proving to be a very valuable asset in my list of kitchen staples. I was very impressed with Total Sweet, as you will see in the cake above. That was absolutely delicious and the rest of the family had no idea it wasn’t made with sugar.
Total Sweet is available in Supervalu, Tesco and Holland & Barrett as well as independent health food stores. If you would like to learn more, I would recommend visiting TotalSweet.Co.UK. There is a wealth of information and also some delicious recipes! The lovely people who work in independent health food stores are also wonderfully informed. They are always happy to answer questions regarding the products they carry.
One More Important Thing To Note
One of our dogs has a wicked sweet tooth. She can sniff a scone out a mile away. Scones, or anything, baked with Xylitol are not for her, or any doggy.
Dogs digest some foods differently to humans, which is why chocolate and raisins might taste good to us, but aren’t so good for our furry friends.
Xylitol is also digested by dogs in a different way to humans and it can cause their blood sugar levels to drop dramatically and in some cases even cause death in dogs. So please don’t give your pet anything containing Total Sweet, or xylitol in general, it might be healthy for us, but it’s not so good for them.
*If you would like to learn more about Glycaemic Index, this website is very good, glycaemicindex.com
Disclaimer: I received complimentary packets of Total Sweet Xylitol to try. I was not under any obligation to provide a blog post. It must also be noted that I have been using Xylitol in my kitchen for some time now.
This post is based on my opinion and facts as I know them, it is not intended as nutritional or dietary advice.
When I speak about PCOS & Insulin Resistance in this post, these are my experiences, I am not offering advice. If you suspect you have any of these conditions or need help managing them, speak to your gp. Work with them in reaching a diagnosis and a management plan.