Sugary or Sugar-Free Soda? Find out Using This Trick!

Have you ever ordered a diet soda, sipped it, and immediately doubted whether it was truly diet? Then you might find this little tip useful.

Whenever you’re not certain that your drink is diet or regular, try grabbing your glucometer, putting a test strip in it, dipping your finger in the drink, and wiping it onto the strip – just like you would do when checking your blood sugar. If the drink is diet, then you’ll know because your meter will display an “extreme low” result, or something to that effect. The key is to not panic and remember that it isn’t your blood sugar you’re looking at, it’s the sugar levels in the drink! It’s just the opposite in the case that your drink is regular/sugary – you’ll get a “high” reading that’ll make it obvious that your beverage isn’t what you ordered.

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Photographic evidence of my soda test results.

This trick has come in handy several times for me. Most recently, I was doing some Christmas shopping at the mall with my boyfriend when we decided to stop at the food court for some lunch. We split a chicken tender meal from Arby’s, which came with a medium soda that we could fill on our own.

I took on the task while he waited for our food, and was excited to see that they had Diet Dr. Pepper on tap (seriously, that’s rare for most fast food joints). I filled up the cup, fitted a lid on top, stuck a straw in, and took a sip. Hmm…it tasted sweeter than I thought it should. I mentioned this to my boyfriend as he picked up our food and we made our way to a table. I told him that I definitely got it from a tap that was labeled “diet”, but we both knew that just because the label says it is, it doesn’t guarantee that the right soda bib is hooked up to the proper line. (Our shared experience working at a movie theater several years ago clued us in to the fact that employees can make mistakes with this.)

He expressed his doubts, as well, and then it occurred to me to do the old soda test strip check. So I did, snapping a picture of the results and feeling reassured by the factual evidence that I was drinking a sugar-free – not sugary – beverage.

Memory Monday: The First Time I Tried Sugar-Free Chocolate from Yummies

Memory Monday is following a slightly different format from here on out! One Monday per month, I’ll take a trip down memory lane and reflect on how much my diabetes thoughts, feelings, and experiences have unfolded over the years. Today, I remember…

…the first time that I tried sugar-free chocolate. Not just any sugar-free chocolate, though: It was from Yummies, a massive candy emporium in Southern Maine. The store is lined, floor to ceiling, with bags upon bags of candy. You can bulk buy your favorites to your heart’s content as well as discover weird, relatively unknown confectionery creations. If you have a sweet tooth, it’s basically a saccharine paradise.

When I was younger, I watched a lot of Phantom Gourmet – partly because it was always on the TV in my Grammy’s nursing home when we visited her each Saturday afternoon, and partly because I was a growing foodie who loved learning about local hot spot eateries. At around nine years old, an episode that featured Yummies aired on TV, and I discovered that they had an entire case devoted to sugar-free chocolates in their store. I knew I had to go check it out; fortunately, my parents were willing to take me there next time we trekked up to Maine.

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Yummies, also known as candy lover’s paradise.

I’ll never forget the first time I walked into that store. My jaw dropped as I laid eyes on the 10,000 pounds of candy they had on display. As I wove through the rainbow-hued aisles, I could practically feel my blood sugar spiking. But I was on a mission to find the sugar-free section that looked so delectable on television that I could practically taste it.

I heard angels sing hallelujah when I laid eyes on the aforementioned case of chocolates. There were so many choices! And all of them were made in the store, guaranteeing higher quality! It was a T1D chocolate lover’s paradise: There were fudge meltaways, peanut butter cups, almond bark, coconut clusters, sea salt caramels, chocolate peanuts, malted milk balls, peppermint patties, and even more beyond that. I remember marveling at the variety for a solid five minutes before I was told by my father to hurry up and make my selections. I don’t remember exactly what I chose, but it definitely included the meltaways and peanut butter cups. Once they were paid for and I was back in the car with my chocolate treasures, I took my first bite and could scarcely believe it was sugar free candy – that’s how awesome it tasted.

Every summer since then, I’ve made an annual visit to Yummies to pick up my tasty sugar-free chocolates. It brings back memories of being a little kid stepping into that store for the first time, memories that are almost as sweet as the candy inside.

An Ode to Diet Coke

Growing up, Diet Coke was my lifeblood. It was my zero-carb drink of choice with every meal, the one beverage I craved when dealing with high blood sugar. Liters of it were in my house at all times, because once a fresh bottle was popped open, it was certain that it wouldn’t last long.

But as I got older (and wiser, I’d like to think), I realized that I needed to wean myself off Diet Coke for my health. My water intake was practically non-existent, and reports of large quantities of soda made me wary of what it was doing to my body. So I replaced Diet Coke, slowly, with flavored water and sparkling water. At first, it was tough, but I got used to it. Gradually, Diet Coke evolved from an everyday dietary staple to a monthly indulgence. I didn’t even really miss it as I began to incorporate funky flavors of seltzer water into my lineup of drinks.

Of course, it was harder to stay away from Diet Coke when I began working at my current job. Suddenly, a fully-stocked fridge of Coca-Cola products was within my reach. It wasn’t just Diet Coke, it was Coke Zero and its enticing kin, Vanilla and Cherry Coke Zero. Boy, was it difficult to avoid the temptation of cracking one open. I would cast longing looks in the direction of the red and black cans as I forced myself to opt for lime and mixed berry seltzer waters. The fizz quelled my desire for carbonation, but it was far from replacing the peppery sweet satisfaction of an ice-cold sip of Diet Coke.

A few months ago, though, my attitude towards my diet soda ban changed. Why was I depriving myself so much? What’s the harm in having a Diet Coke once or twice a week? Surely, that would be an improvement compared to my younger years of gulping down gallons of the cola weekly. So I’ve stuck with this plan, and I’m happier to have rekindled a more positive relationship with my beloved diet drink of choice.

And everything came full circle when I visited the World of Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta, Georgia earlier this month. A fellow T1D friend and I had an absolute field day tasting dozens (and I mean DOZENS) of diet and sugar-free Coca-Cola products. Seriously, that Coca-Cola Freestyle machine is an amazing invention. Without it, we never would’ve discovered how awesome Sprite Zero Strawberry tastes, or how aesthetically alarming diet Fanta products are, with their neon green and purple hues. We felt like diet soda wizards, summoning the most wild flavor combinations from the machine with just a touch of a button. Though our bellies quickly filled up from all the carbonation, we had a blast experimenting with all the zero-sugar possibilities. Plus, learning the history of Coca-Cola and experiencing all the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes made for a fabulously fun afternoon.

Ah, Diet Coke – I admit that I tried to quit you, but you’re just a part of my life. You’ve consoled me through sticky high blood sugars and you’ve been my drink of choice at countless parties and occasions over the years. Thanks for being a loyal pal to this T1D.