A comprehensive source for buying things sweetened with aspartame alone?
October 25, 2013 9:28 AM   Subscribe

My 7 year old daughter has Fructose Malabsorption Disorder and can't tolerate very much sucrose, or more than a negligible amount of fructose, sucralose, or sugar alcohols (sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, or stevia.) The only sweeteners she can tolerate ad lib are aspartame and saccharin. I'm having a lot of trouble finding things that are sweetened ONLY with aspartame or saccharin -- anyone know of a comprehensive source for such items?

Crystal Light and diet soda are already on my radar, but it would be nice to be able to give her hot chocolate, chocolate milk, hot cider, popsicles, etc. once in a while. Sucralose is the new hotness and is thus in everything, but it causes her really terrible problems since it is also a malabsorbed sugar. In theory, glucose and maltose should both be fine, but for whatever reason -- possibly because her poor gut has been abused for six years -- she gets tummy aches and gas even from these, in excess. What I'm hoping for is one website or something that sells things that are sweetened ONLY with aspartame/nutrasweet or saccharin. Resources for diabetics often focus on sugar alcohols and sucralose, or even straight fructose, so they're frequently less helpful than I'd like.

In the absence of one central source, if you know of individual products that are sweetened with aspartame/nutrasweet and saccharin alone, I'd love to hear about them.
posted by KathrynT to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Stevia should be ok if you can find Pure Stevia. It tends to be formulated with the carbon sugars (mannitol xylitol etc) as a means of diluting it because people would use way too much, so don't discount something sweetened with only stevia.
posted by koolkat at 9:37 AM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not products per se, but for chocolate milk and hot chocolate, is there any reason you couldn't make them at home using unsweetened cocoa powder, your milk of choice, and NutraSweet?
posted by coppermoss at 9:39 AM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just to cut this off at the pass -- stevia is not OK because it is a sugar alcohol, and pure cane sugar is sucrose which she has to be severely limited on. When she's having a bad flare, we need to keep her to 10 grams of sugar per day or less, TOTAL. When I say it's aspartame or saccharin only, this is after much consultation with gastroenterologists and careful observation of the effects of other sweeteners.
posted by KathrynT at 9:40 AM on October 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

You say aspartame ALONE, but aspartame is almost always combined with Acesulfame-potassium. Is the latter an issue?
posted by blue t-shirt at 9:41 AM on October 25, 2013

Stevia is not a sugar alcohol.
posted by blue t-shirt at 9:41 AM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hey, Kathryn - sorry to hear about your daughter's health issues. I am a long-time, voracious artificial sweetener aficionado, and can confirm that you are right - it's hard to find single-sweetener products. This is because sweeteners often potentiate one another, and help negate one another's side effects... good for the general populace, bad for your kiddo.

I'm guessing that packaged sweeteners, since they are often "bulked" with maltodextrin and such, are perhaps ALSO non-starters for her.

Some suggestions:

- Liquid saccharin and non-bulked pure aspartame might be of use.

- You may wanna experiment with monkfruit extract - it's relatively new in the U.S. market and is AWESOME, and it comes in a liquid formulation that doesn't have any other sweeteners in it.

- If you're experimenting with your own concoctions for her (homemade beverages, popsicles, etc.), definitely check out LorAnn oils - there are a TON of them in a slew of different flavors, they're unsweetened (as far as I know) and will give you a lot of flexibility.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:47 AM on October 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

Due to the fact that most sweeteners are a couple of orders of magnitude sweeter than sucrose, nearly all will be bulked out with sugar alcohols or maltodextrin, which leads to them being indigestible for KathrynT's daughter.

However, I'd be very surprised if a pure stevia extract would cause symptoms even if delivered in multi gram servings, rather than the milligram amounts needed. These could be used to sweeten chocolate drinks (or even chocolate, if you purchased a kit with cocoa mass (containing some complex carbohydrates, of course) and cocoa butter).
posted by ambrosen at 9:48 AM on October 25, 2013

Response by poster: acesulfame-potassium is fine. Stevia is fine for many people, but it causes my daughter screaming gastric distress which is what I'm trying to avoid.
posted by KathrynT at 9:48 AM on October 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, please go ahead and take the asker at their word that they only want aspartame- and saccharine-only solutions instead of arguing in the thread about it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:51 AM on October 25, 2013 [16 favorites]

Many Sugar-Free Jello products have no sugar and are sweetened with aspartame. It looks like the cheesecake pudding might be OK too, but of course I'm not an expert on the various issues of fructose malabsorption and potential issues.

Here's one person's blog with a list of what has worked for her son. The Annie's fruit snacks are listed but to my untrained eye, they have ingredients that won't work for your daughter.
posted by barnone at 9:55 AM on October 25, 2013

Best answer: If you get the sweetener on your own, an option for fruity drinks (cider, even for making popsicles) would be herbal teas (Celestial Seasonings' page). Celestial Seasonings even has a "cinnamon apple spice" that is pretty tasty.

Kool-aid is also unsweetened by default, here is a sugar free hot cocoa recipe from Hershey, here is a fairly general sugar free chocolate milk recipe, and I'm sure there are many others.
posted by HermitDog at 9:57 AM on October 25, 2013

While I don't have a specific food to suggest, you might want to contact the Speciality Food Store They have a dietician on staff and have a huge online selection of foods for a variety of simple to extremely complex dietary requirements. They are located at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, but you may be able to find somewhere similar at a local Childrens Hospital.
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 11:01 AM on October 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Chocolate-Covered Katie often offers sugar-free alternatives for her recipes. It looks like she often subs in stevia or xylitol, but I think you'd be able to sub in aspartame with a few adjustments.

This sugar substitute cooking guide may be helpful (apologies for HuffPo).
posted by coppermoss at 11:08 AM on October 25, 2013

You can get creative with how you serve the diet soda: freeze different flavors into popsicles, mix it with plain gelatin to make flavored "jello", cook it down into a syrup to pour on snow cones or pancakes. You could probably make slightly weird hot chocolate by sweetening it with a little bit of diet dr pepper.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 1:37 PM on October 25, 2013

Also I bet you could make an acceptable sorbet in an ice cream maker out of diet soda or crystal light.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 2:21 PM on October 25, 2013

Best answer: I couldn't find a good website or webstore for you. Sorry, google-fu failed me. But here were some thoughts I had:

You should be able to make pudding using either one of the acceptable sweeteners because pudding does not rely on sugar for structurally. Frozen pudding makes really nice ice pops as does frozen soda or kook-aid. (Make sure you buy the packets not the jar -- the packets have no sweeter so you can add your own).

You should be able to make hot cocoa using cocoa powder and milk. My advice is start with just a little cocoa powder and a very small amount of milk - mix with a whisk or a fork till you have a slurry. Micowave for 30 seconds and mix again. Then add the rest of the milk and the sweeter. Makes really nice hot cocoa.

You can make chocolate syrup using cocoa powder, one of your sweeteners, and a little milk and use that to make chocolate milk.

If you want to get crazy, make sugar free marshmallows to go with her cocoa:
The recipe calls for stevia but you can sub either of the acceptable sweeteners without affecting the final product.

I (think) Alpine Spiced Cider, sugar free, meets your requirements... but please read the label to make sure I didn't miss something:
I wasn't sure about 'maltodextrin'

And I know what you mean about sucralose being in everything -- I am very allergic to it. :-(
posted by LittleMy at 4:24 PM on October 25, 2013

Oh my. That was a particularly typo-filled post. Sorry.
posted by LittleMy at 4:33 PM on October 25, 2013

if you're looking for sweet things - have you tried Miracle Fruit? It's an actual fruit that you eat that then makes sour or other things taste sweet. you can get capsules of it (in that link up there) that are made of dried miracle fruit and potato starch - you eat one, and then for about 20 minutes after, everything is sweet - lemons taste like lemonade, cranberries taste like cranberry cocktail... there's no sugar in the capsules at all, it's just a property of the fruit.
posted by andreapandrea at 6:30 AM on October 26, 2013

Response by poster: You guys, thank you so much! I had been unable to find the sugar-free alpine cider, but after hunting and trawling, I did in fact pull it up -- the maltodextrin in it is fine as long as we don't go overboard. But those Lorann oils and flavorings are the find of the century; our local cake decorating shop has a bunch of them, and as a result, my daughter is eating strawberry yogurt for the first time since her diagnosis. I brought a sampler home (the dram sizes are VERY cheap, about $1.50 each, and it takes only drops to flavor something) and we were talking about everything she'd be able to have now -- maple spice oatmeal! Mango milk! Whipped cream flavored like cherries! She actually burst into real tears from joy. I bet if I make muffins with a lot of flavor and only a little sugar and top them with Nutrasweet-sweetened flavored whipped cream, we could even plausibly pass them off as something resembling a cupcake.

Sorry, I'm rambling! We're just REALLY excited around here.
posted by KathrynT at 10:44 AM on October 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

Try here. Click on the "low carb" products section. They are going to have tons of things that your daughter cannot eat. . . but they will have many things that she can tolerate there. The good thing about Netrition is that you can click on the full ingredient list of any item and review it--no guessing whatsoever.

Another source might be here for additional flavoring options. These are more intense that the Lorann's oils, but, probably not as natural. If you were to make your own ice cream or something like that, I'd go the candyflavor route as the flavor is more robust.

I have a zillion low carb recipes pinned and you might look at some of the recipes for sweets for ideas. Nearly all of these have sugar alcohols but you should be able to replace those with something that works for your daughter. Most (but not all) of these are also gluten free.

It sounds like fun beverages are a problem -- if I was a kid, I'd want them too! You might consider getting a sodastream. The soda stream brand sugar-free flavorings have ace-k in them (yay!) but also sucralose. . . and, they don't taste so good. But you could certainly use some flavoring and sweeten with liquid sweetener. This site is a crazy thorough guide to alternatives to the soda stream brand flavorings.

Here is a source for ace-k & aspartame sweetened sugar-free snowcone flavoring--you may be able to find other brands, too. Probably the most kid-friendly option for flavoring sodas & great for making homemade popsicles, too. And jello. And gummy candy. Yes, you need this stuff for sure!

This page made me realize the complexity here! Some of these product suggestions seem a little off the map to me--but--if even one of them works, hey, happy day!

A few other resources that I came across while attempting to answer your question:
a lovely blog from another fructmal mom
a pinterest board of fructmal-safe recipes
a facebook group for fructmal parents

You might also check out neotame as another sweetener option to give you more options when cooking/baking. YMMV & IANAD. I buy it on ebay as it's only available to industry right now. It's easy to put in a solution and use in things like beverages/puddings.

posted by Kalatraz at 10:51 PM on October 26, 2013

A few more specific items that should work:

Hot chocolate mix
Chocolate milk shake mix
Vanilla milk shake mix
Frosting mixes (vanilla & chocolate)
Pumpkin pie & pudding mix (this has more of a mousse texture IMHO)
posted by Kalatraz at 4:37 PM on October 28, 2013

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