Gimme Some Sugar!

In a land where 'dulce de leche' rules supreme, one can expect that sugary sweets are a mainstay of the local diet.

As a person with Type 1 Diabetes though, I have an unusual relationship with sugar (and all carbohydrates for that matter). Contrary to popular belief, I can eat sugar, I just have to be diligent and count exactly how much I am consuming, then give myself the proper corresponding amount of insulin. Alternatively, I'm not a fan of aspartame and lean towards sucralose if I do need an artificial sweetener.

I was not prepared for sugar popping up in all sorts of unusual places in Uruguay.

Ground Coffee. While not a coffee connoisseur, I like the stuff enough to drink every day. Since arriving in Uruguay, I have purchased a variety of ground coffees from the grocery store. Never in my wildest dreams did I think to look at the contents of a bag of ground coffee. If you see the word "Glaseado" on the label, sugar is the #2 ingredient. I found one brand of 'cafe natural' that advertised no sugar. I was thrilled but unfortunately I find the coffee somewhat bitter. The Mellita brand also has unsweetened ground coffee.  Pay attention to the name because there is also a Melita (one 'L') that has sugar.  

Fruit Juice. It was brought to my attention a few weeks ago that the fruit juices here contain added sugar. While doing some investigation, it appears to be a variety of sweeteners in juice: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame or sucralose. Not extremely unusual, I guess, but I would hope for at least a few unsweetened options.

Correction: I have found a few of the Dairyco brand juices in the refrigerator section do not have added sugar (or other sweeteners).  The Naranja y Manzana (Orange & Apple) juice is really nice.

Tomato Sauce. I just want plain tomato sauce or tomato paste.  No salt, no sugar, no luck.

Yogurt. There is one giant jar of plain, unsweetened yogurt of the 'Claldy' brand. Everything else is one of the sugar/aspartame/sucralose trifecta.

There are also plenty of items in Uruguay that have high fructose corn syrup.  Coca Cola here is unusual in that it is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup in the USA and sugar here.  In this case, I'd take the sugar.  This is the reason that people in the USA seem to like the taste of  'Mexican' Coke.  It's that wonderful sugar...

The whole point is, lots of things in UY are 'dulce'.  Fortunately most of the grocery products list their ingredients. Spend some time and read the labels.  You may just be surprised at what is in the food that you eat.

*When needing to add a sweetener to food, there is a natural alternative available in Uruguay. Stevia is an extract of a plant grown in Paraguay. It is available at the larger grocery stores. Thanks Franklin for reminding me of this!  I also love Agave nectar, but so far I have not been able to find this in Uruguay. If anyone knows of Agave in UY, PLEASE send a note!!