It’s heading into summer season and everyone is starting to ask about icy poles in our Chewsday Review requests. Today’s review features Sugar Free-zies from Woolworths. They’re icy poles without sugar… Obviously a good choice, right? Let’s see in today’s Chewsday review…
🔶Ingredients: Water, Natural Sweeteners (Erythritol, Maltitol, Stevia extract), Citric Acid, Natural Flavours, Apple Extract, Black Carrot Extract, Paprika Extract, Natural Colour (Carthamus)
🔹Erythritol and maltitol are sugar alcohols. These are a type of carbohydrate that have less sweetness than sugar and provides less kilojoules. They’re used to sweeten foods without adding ‘table sugar’. Erythritol provides minimal calories, however, maltitol does impact blood sugar levels and breaks down to 50% glucose and 50% fructose, just like sugar. Also, sugar alcohols are typically manufactured rather than being used in their natural form. They’re not necessarily ‘bad’ for you, but they’re not a magical substance either.
🔹Stevia is another sweetener derived from natural sources, and people seem less afraid of them than ‘artificial’ sweetness. However, there’s still a fair amount of processing to get stevia to a point that you can add it to icy poles like these so it’s not exactly ‘natural’, if that’s your reason for choosing it.
🔹Carthamus is a natural colour from a thistle plant.
🔹Common allergens: The natural sweeteners are mostly polyols, which can be a big problem for kiddos with FODMAP intolerances in particular.
🔹No added sugar (0g/100g). In comparison, Zooper Doopers have 11g of sugar per icy pole. In the Sugar Free-zies, the sweeteners used here have very few kilojoules but are still extremely sweet. This can be a problem because if you regularly eat super sweet foods, you can find it difficult to appreciate the natural flavours of other less sweet foods. One big positive is that they’re not digestible so they don’t breakdown like sugar does and contribute to dental decay.
🔹Low sodium content, which I’d expect.
🔹Almost no fat or saturated fat.
🔹Mostly Australian made.
🔹There’s actually nothing in these other than water, sweeteners and flavours. They don’t provide any energy.
🔹I don’t think sweeteners (natural or artificial) are particularly necessary for kids. Some research shows that when we eat sweet foods without any kilojoules (or calories) in it, our body gets ready for the kilojoules but is confused when they don’t arrive. We often end up eating those kilojoules from somewhere else to compensate- because we don’t feel full. If anything, the sweetness provided here is a bit of a trick for our kids and their bodies, which may play a role in them having difficult regulating their satiety, which isn’t really what we want. Additionally, when consumed in large amounts, sweeteners like the polyols can cause abdominal discomfort, wind and may have a laxative effect.
🔹These are pretty expensive considering they’re mainly water ($6.50 for a packet of 15).
🔹“We are on a crusade to remove 500 tons of sugar per year from Australian’s diets- without removing the yum and the fun” I find this a little icky- but they are donating money to help educate Australian families on healthy choices (not quite sure how though).
🔹“No nasties” I hate this term. Nasties is not defined and it’s not a thing. Sugar also isn’t nasty. You can still eat some sugar and have a healthy diet.
🔹“Naturally sweetened with Stevia.” Interesting that they don’t mention the other two sweeteners which are used in greater amounts than Stevia. I think most people would see Erythritol and Maltitol on the packaging and feel less confident about the natural sweetening.
🔹These aren’t a poor nutritional choice as such, but I don’t really see a lot of benefit in this food. They won’t fill your child up at snack time, and if anything, they just contribute to mindless snacking throughout the day. I wouldn’t be buying these and I’d suggest making your own with water and a dash of 100% fruit juice for colour, or blitz up some fruit and freeze into an icy pole. Nutritious and still delicious!
🔹Proud and Punch Icy Poles might be a better option if you do want to buy some, because they’re made from real fruit. However, they’re also quite expensive.
About Mealtime Building Blocks
Dr Kyla Smith is a paediatric dietitian specialising in fussy eating, feeding difficulties and childhood nutrition. Lauren Pike is an occupational therapist working in fussy eating and feeding difficulties. They have a private practice called Mealtime Building Blocks in Perth, Western Australia. You can connect with Kyla and Lauren on their website and sign up for their newsletter, and the Facebook page or on the Instagram page. You can also email them.