My Journey with Artificial Sweeteners
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
**I understand people may not agree. I personally feel that artificial sweeteners are poison but this is your life and journey so whatever works for you. This is my personal story. I encourage everyone to do your own research and take responsibility for knowing about the things you put into your body**
Struggling with my weight is nothing new to me. Since middle school, I have been able to tell you the calories in everything, restricted my intake, looked for quick fixes, anything. In high school I discovered artificial sweeteners and let me tell you I thought they were a miracle. You see I have a wicked sweet tooth and back then my idea of “healthy” was anything with the lowest calories possible. I dabbled in artificial sweeteners with yogurt, diet coke, sugar free gum and other mainstream products. Once I got to college I jumped in full force- crystal light, diet coke all the time, pudding, protein powder, jelly, cereal, snack bars, you name it, if it came in low calorie fake sweetened I bought it- processed chemicals? Who cared? As long as the calories were low.
I was also fat, bloated, never satisfied, binge ate, and got terrible headaches all the time that I offset with Advil or Excedrin at least twice a day.
I have always had a passion for nutrition, or what I thought was “nutrition” but was always quick to jump on the latest bandwagon and quick fix. At the beginning of my senior year of college I decided that whatever I was doing was not working and started trying to change slowly. In December of that year (08) I joined Spark (almost exactly a year ago) around the same time that I was really starting to clean up my diet - it was at this point that I was eliminating white sugar and flour and processed foods- I had been doing a lot of research and really wanted to gain health along with losing weight. After much reading I decided artificial sweeteners would be the first to go.
It was actually a very sudden decision and I went totally cold turkey literally overnight. My interest had been sparked by all the studies relating to artificial sweeteners and cravings, basically that when your body tastes sweet and doesn’t get the calories it spikes your insulin and causes cravings, along with other studies relating artificial sweeteners to weight issues. I figured anything was worth a shot. But in researching this issue I found so many other things that disturbed me regarding Sucralose (Splenda) and Aspartame that I vowed to never ever ever purposely consume them again.
Here are a few resources I found interesting- there are plenty of people that will disagree here and I will tell you I did NOT pick the most scientific sites although I have read the support behind them and encourage you to do the same. I picked ones that stood out and made an impact on me by making my THINK about what I was consuming. Yes some are sensational but they are easy to read and disturbing, you can find the research behind it if you want to. The concept of Clean Eating and a whole foods diet- which I embraced later on also does not support these ingredients.
I have not consumed artificial sweeteners in over a year, except once, by accident I took a Costco sample from my BF without realizing what it was. It was a protein shake and the taste was so chemical I almost vomited- hard to believe I used to crave this stuff- not even kidding I CRAVED the taste of aspartame so bad sometimes- CANNOT be healthy.
Anyways like I said artificial sweeteners were the first to go and I noticed huge changes immediately that convinced me to never go back. After a week of withdrawal all of my headaches vanished, I have taken maybe ten Advil TOTAL in the past YEAR (cramps) after going through a bottle a month! My cravings diminished significantly and consuming less other foods in place of the artificial products left me much more satisfied. I could not eat as much but I did not NEED to. I would eat a pack of four sugar free puddings a day just to try and get satisfaction but never could and diet coke by the gallon. Keep in mind that at this point I was not eating a very healthy diet still just had removed the sweeteners, was still eating lots of junk food and processed crap (think lean cuisines, light cool whip, and other non fake sweetened "diet" crap- I also think all of this is awful for similar reasons and eliminating caused a huge change in my body but thats another story) that had to be removed over the next few months but I already was feeling the changes so I know if was only the sweeteners. No headaches after suffering for years and years, huge drop in sweets cravings, more satisfied after eating- I was convinced.
Even better was the changes over the next few months as I started to replace these products with whole foods and really cut out the junk/processed foods, added sugars, and white flour but that’s another story. However, I will say eliminating these sweeteners was the beginning of the battle, I was so reliant that once I dropped those I realized I could drop anything. Once I saw the positive reaction I started researching all of the other chemicals in our food (like the diet crap mentioned above) and eliminating it- eventually removing almost all processed foods, which is what caused such an awesome change in my body over this past year - nutrition is 80% of the battle! This was the very first step in teaching me that ingredients are far more important than calories could ever be and is now what I read first on any label. I don't want to consume things that there is debate on if it is safe or not- really? what is wrong with us?!?! even if it is "safe" so what! If it is not NOURISHING my body and supporting all the amazing things it does and my health I don't want it on any sort of regular basis just because it is maybe not going to kill me!
My body’s swift and positive reaction was enough to convince me to stop poisoning myself, are you ready to commit?