The Dirty Truth About Artificial Sweeteners
Coming from a fitness competitor background, I promoted low calorie foods for years. A lot of the time, these foods had artificial sweeteners in them as a way to cut calories. To be honest, I used to be a complete artificial sweetener junkie (Splenda, Sweet N Low, Diet Pepsi, sugar free gum, etc.)
When I began having health issues I started to do some research, and artificial sweeteners were one of the first things I ditched.
After learning how these chemicals affect our bodies, I seriously will not touch this stuff anymore. It's not pretty.
So, what are artificial sweeteners?
These are synthetic replacements to sugar (that comes from the sugarcane or sugar beet root). Synthetic sugar is commonly used in any processed “diet, “light,” or “low cal” foods and beverages- such as diet soda, low cal drinks (ex: Crystal Light), protein bars, yogurts, protein powders, and packets of sweetener like Splenda, Sweet N Low, and Equal.
What’s so wrong with it?
Some believe it’s a zero calorie option and therefore helpful when trying to lose or maintain weight, right? Wrong.
If weight loss (or maintenance) is the goal, these chemicals actually have the REVERSE effect- crazy, right?! Something invented to be a weight loss tool actually works the opposite way. Grrrr.
Artificially created sugar can be upwards of 600 times sweeter than regular sugar, ultimately resetting your taste buds. If your taste buds are expecting significant sweeter options your cravings are going to increase along with it.
Leading to increased sugar intake. Imagine 600 times more sugar you’d need to enjoy the taste of the food you were eating. It definitely adds up.
Not to mention all artificial sweeteners are just that- artificial. They’re made from chemicals and produced in a facility, often times derived from chemicals meaning no part of the sweetener was made from plants or come from the ground. Our bodies can have a hard time digesting items like these because it’s not a natural ingredient to be absorbed into the body.
These artificial chemicals screw up your gut microbiome- and, ladies and gentlemen, gut health is EVERYTHING. They not only cause digestive issues but they also create insulin resistance, meaning your cells don't respond to insulin, so blood sugar creeps up higher and higher, which leads to pre-diabetes and diabetes… and more insulin stored as body fat.
Yuck. Across the board. YUCK. My personal opinion is that this sh*t shouldn’t even be legal. Rant over.
That’s the problem… how about the solution? How did I overcome my artificial sweetener habit?
There’s a few ways to make sure you’re filling your body with the best ingredients possible- and getting rid of artificial sweeteners. Here’s a few:
If you CAN just give this crap up, do so! I’m sort of all-or-nothing, so while I initially experienced some resistance, cutting it cold turkey and replacing it with NATURAL sweeteners was the route I chose. I replaced artificial sweeteners with all-natural, calorie free stevia. I love liquid vanilla stevia for my coffee and stevia packets for things like oatmeal, healthy desserts, etc.
If you absolutely can’t cut it cold turkey, create a plan to gradually phase these nasty chemicals out. Write down what you eat everyday and highlight what foods are artificially sweetened, then determine a plan to start decreasing the amount you’re consuming. When I moved to Milwaukee in 2014 I vowed to no longer keep Diet Pepsi in the house- instead it would be my “treat” when I was out, a few times a week. Eventually I didn’t even crave it anymore- and now honestly I have ZERO desire to drink diet soda. (And I promise you guys, I looooved my Diet Pepsi!)
Why I love stevia...
I started using stevia a few years ago and I haven’t turned back. Stevia has the same consistency as sugar, is made literally from a plant (fun fact!) and is only slightly sweeter than real sugar. It is also a zero calorie sweetener so I put this in my coffee! (Because I just can’t do plain black coffee… respect to those who can!)
I carry packets around in my purses/ travel bags... and you can find stevia packets at most Starbucks and some cafes and restaurants now too! (Thank heavens!)
I’m so thankful that I’ve increased my knowledge of these nasty chemicals disguised as a “healthy” option, and can pass that onto you- so we can all move past the “zero calorie” fad and choose to wholesome foods that give us sustained energy! Wean yourself off this stuff and I promise, your body will thank you. ;-)