21 May, 2012
Last decade, I went on the Atkins diet for about a year. Why? Because I’m fat sometimes and that was the diet everyone was doing in 2003, get off my case. Also, because you could eat a lot of steak.
Sugar-free candy was a refreshing break from the meat, eggs, and meat you eat on the Atkins diet. This stuff seemed miraculous (“No net carbs!”) until the fateful day I ate more than one piece of candy. Which was also the fateful day I bought my first bag of sugar-free candy.
The main ingredient in Russell Stover sugar-free candy is maltitol. This, and other sugar alcohols, are replacements for sugar in candy. They have similar physical properties to sugar, which makes it easy to use as a bulking agent in candy. If you use aspartame or sucralose, they’re so much sweeter than sugar that you have to add fillers like maltodextrin (a starch) which screws up the no-carb thing.
Maltitol and other sugar alcohols are not absorbed well in the small intestine, which means your blood sugar doesn’t spike so sharply when you eat sugar alcohols. Which is kinda good. The bad part is that they’re still in your intestine, and when the bacteria down there eats the sugar alcohols, you get gas. A lot of gas. A lot of really horrible-smelling gas that bloats your whole digestive tract. Sometimes accompanied by diarrhea, which, propelled by the large volume of gas generated by your gut flora, shoots out of your b-hole with frightening velocity.
The moral of this particular shit-velocity story is that if you want to diet, portion control and moderation always beat loopholes and fake food. But you can’t sell willpower in bottles. Well, actually, you can, but it’s aromatherapy, and let’s wait until another day to open that particular can of worms.