How Sweet It Is!

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“Are you a diabetic?” the CDE standing next to me demanded.

“Uh, yeah,” I answered (deciding not to voice my disapproval of the word “diabetic” by responding with, “I have diabetes.”).

“Take some!” she continued. “It tastes great! And it works, too!”

We were at the Level Life booth in the exhibit hall at the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) annual meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, last week. Level Life is the brand name of a fairly new glucose gel. Of all the sugars, pure glucose works the fastest and for the fewest calories per volume.

I first “met” Level Life and its proud papa, founder and CEO Ethan Lewis, at AADE last year in Las Vegas. Strawberry banana was the lone flavor, it came in a nondescript (albeit easy-to-open) package, and it was available only online.

This year, there are four flavors: the original strawberry-banana, caramel, vanilla, and mandarin orange; the packaging is uptown; and Level Life will hit the shelves at CVS, Walmart, and Rite Aid in September. It also can be ordered online at There are 15 grams of carbohydrate per packet — just the right amount to treat a low — and it’s gluten- and dairy-free.

It’s still easy to open: just rip off the top of the sturdy pouch and suck the contents down.

Lewis, 25, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 12 years old. He developed the gel over a “personal need for a better glucose solution.” And how does one develop glucose gel? “A lot of trial and error,” he says. “Mostly error.”

Interestingly, it’s not the first food he’s developed. At age 16, he developed some snack crackers that sold in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut tristate area.

Why so young? “When your doctor tells you [that] you won’t live past forty, you have to do things fast,” Lewis says.

Yes, he knows the bit about dying by age 40 is bunk. Was he joking about believing he had to do things fast? Who knows. What is known is that Level Life tastes great — at least the mandarin orange, which is what I scarfed down the morning my blood glucose was 61.

It works, too. Brought me up to 95.


I nosed around looking for other glucose products, too, and came across Quick Sticks, which appears to be new. Its claim to fame is that it’s water-free.

OK. Think Lik-m-aid (am I aging myself?), which was a candy back in the day that was in powder form. You could dip a stick into it and lick it off the stick. Or if you didn’t have a nickel, you could mix Kool-Aid with sugar and dip your finger in it. But I digress.

Quick Sticks is 10 grams of carbohydrate per packet, which is 5 grams short of the recommended 15 grams. It’s gluten-free and comes in watermelon and sour apple. Just rip open the packet and pour it in your mouth.

It’s available in Kroger and H.E.B. in some areas of the country. You can find out where at You can also order online there.


Speaking of easy-open, Dex 4 products haven’t exactly been known for that. Witness the gyrations needed to open a bottle of glucose drink: Figure out how to get the plastic off the bottle, then open the cap only to find another obstacle to get through. While you’re in the throes of hypoglycemia.

I’ll admit it: While at AADE, I went to the booth and asked what cockamamie idiot designed packaging that’s impossible to get through when you’re shaking, sweaty, and addle-brained.

“That’s BC: Before Cliff,” says Cliff Durham, product manager, hypoglycemia, for Perrigo Diabetes Care, which bought the product from CanAm Care.

Finally! Somebody who realizes that we’re not all that dexterous when our glucose is in the toilet!

The glucose drink will have a cap like on a drink bottle; the glucose gel will have a twist-off top; the 10-tablet container will have more space to take the seal off; and the 50-count bottle will have a pull-seal only, Durham says.

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