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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?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • RK2008
    I really appreciate this view. I feel like these changes are so big but going to naturally found foods is definitely something I want for myself and my family.
    4079 days ago
    I am SO right there with you on artificial sweeteners. If I've gotta' have a sweetener for baking or something, it's organic can juice crystals (sucanat) for me all the way! And of course fruit is a great natural sweetener.

    I'm also right there with you on eating WHOLE and UNPROCESSED (in fact, that would be an oxymoron, I believe) and ORGANIC. I fear that the chemicals we're putting into our system via the food we eat is one key reason for the cancer epidemic...not to mention a couple other things, like the water and air!

    Keep up the good work! And your sharing of the wealth of knowledge is so Right On!
    4121 days ago
  • no profile photo GETFIT_101
    Artificial sweeteners freak me out as well. I haven't noticed any side effects for me personally but the fact that they are chemically produced scares me. I've been trying to eat cleaner for awhile now and while I don't achieve it 100% of the time, I'm much better off for the changes I've made. Love your page and blogs! Good stuff!
    4127 days ago
  • LOVE_2_RUN
    Great blog. I totally agree with you about the artificial sweetners. The more I consumed the more I craved them and other sweets. Once I eliminated as many artificial sweetners as possible, my cravings almost completely went away. They are completely toxic and yet found in so many products. Thanks for the info and links.
    4133 days ago
    I can relate to the correlation between headaches and artificial sweetners. I use to drink diet soda and use sweet n low in my iced tea all the time. Now, I rarely drink soda and am trying to cut out artificial sweetners completely. My headaches have diminished to maybe twice a month versus every day.

    On a side note, I have discovered Eating Clean and can't wait to explore a whole new level of health!

    Great job on your success and you look absolutely fab!!
    4135 days ago
    Thanks for this great blog. I have been using way too much Splenda, but that is changing. It's funny...I made up my mind last night and today I find your blog! Thanks
    You're an inspiration!!
    4140 days ago
  • MRSSASS2010
    Definitely heading in this direction! Thanks for the inspiration!
    4141 days ago
    Nice Blog about the artificial sugars, it always worrys me since my husband drinks diet pop alot.
    4145 days ago
    Music: My absolute favorite brand is Polaner in the all fruit variety. It comes in soooooooo many flavors including ones that can be hard to find like orange, blackberry, etc but my very favorite is the strawberry (not the seedless) but honestly I love them all!
    4146 days ago
    Totally agree! I did a detox-cleanse just to get rid of my addiction to Coke Zero and Diet Coke. It really helped! I used to drink 3 a day, after going through uncomfortable withdrawals I had zero cravings. Clean eating is the way to go! :-)
    4146 days ago
  • MUSICLVR2675
    I have adopted your substitution of sweeteners with Agave Nectar. I have some left over Splenda in the house but haven't used it. I should just trash it I guess... I also bought Stevia for those occasional uses like in my oatmeal. I have tried to make drinking water a priority and sometimes a glass of milk with dinner. Lovin' the protein powder you suggested from Jarrow. Since my daughter doesn't like Whey protein, I get her a small tub of the Jay Robb Egg Whites protein powder. She's in athletics and loves a good smoothie after a run.
    I just realized that I still buy the Sugar Free Smuckers jelly and obviously that would have Splenda in it...Even though I don't eat it often, I need to explore real fruit jelly that you suggested. Are their any brands you might suggest?
    4147 days ago
    What would you suggest for me... I drink coffee RELIGIOUSLY. I have heard that coffee isn't good for you but it is my addiction. The problem is that I ALWAYS use equal... but I like my coffee on the sweeter side: I could use up to 10 teaspoons of white sugar for it to taste right to me! what would you suggest I use???

    Plus, do you have any good sites or books for info on "clean eating"? I have a problem where if I do not eat within a ceratin time, I start to get the shakes and feel like I am going to pass out, and I think that clean eating might be a solution to helping with this. Last year, I was thinking that it might be an issue with diabetes (it runs in my family).
    4148 days ago
  • no profile photo TEAPOTTERY
    I quit using artificial sweeteners when I was pregnant with my now 13yo daughter. I figured that if it wasn't good for my growing baby, then it wasn't good for me either.
    4149 days ago
  • no profile photo CD3514403
    Wow what a great blog! Thanks so much for sharing. I have to admit I was the same way with eating when I first joined spark. Now I'm definitely heading in the right direction!!

    I can't wait to try your fig bars, I'm getting the ingredients this weekend!!

    4151 days ago
    You're right! I prefer to take some sugar than to use artificial sweetener. I don't drink diet anymore, just water. I totally agree with you.
    4151 days ago
    Really enjoyed your blog! Great reminder!
    4152 days ago
    I love it! If only people in this country would realize that sugar (in some form) is literally the 1st or 2nd ingredient in almost all processed food!!

    You rock girl - you are such a motivation. I'm trying to cut out the last bit of artificial sweeteners I have in my whey powder (can't justify throwing away a $50 tub). Once that's finished, I am done. Hopefully I'll have abs like yours come summer!
    4153 days ago
  • JENNIFER0807
    I have been hearing alot about the negative effects of artificial sugars and the headaches they can bring on. This blog is just another reminder to stay away from the stuff. Thanks for including links.
    4153 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your blog. I remember reading a long time ago how studies were concluding that people who drank diet soda often weighed more than those who didn't, so when I eliminated soda, I never transitioned to diet. I thought I was doing pretty well. For some reason, I am a dummy and never thought of the sugar free gum I am constantly chewing (in my mind to fend off cravings).
    4153 days ago
    thanks for sharing this information. The only articifical sweetner I use is Splenda and it's in limited amounts. What do you think is a good replacement? I mostly use it in teas and sometimes in my oatmeal.
    4153 days ago
  • GFMAMA888
    This was awesome. I used to drink diet sodas & diet flavored "waters" as well as eat sf products and I have pretty much eliminated it from my life. I will slip and and have an occasional diet soda if I am craving a soda vs a reg soda (either the evils of fake sugar or HFCS) but that's few and far btwn lately.

    I just got done reading Mastering Your Metabolism and have been seeing a nutritionist for stomach issues I have been having for years that Drs don't know what's wrong. I am in the process of figuring out what's wrong & using supplementation and diet changes to be healthier (i.e. no more fake sugars, trying to eat "clean"). They're suspecting I am not absorbing my nutrients correctly which would explain why I am hungry all the time and have overpowering cravings at times. I am hoping that these changes I make will help me get a better grip on my nutrition and will lead to some wt loss...and OBVIOUSLY I know it will make me healthier to boot. Looking forward to learning more about Clean Eating!!
    4154 days ago
    thanks sooo much for this blog!!! i hope i can be as strong and determined as you! I was able to lessen my splenday intake but i still have it with my morning coffee and my vice...diet coke... which i limit to one a day... i am thinking that when my last one finishes i won't be buying it again... and as far as the coffee well ill let you know how that goes... it calms me if that makes any sense...anyways i love the blog and hope to reach a point that u are at now... ever thought about sharing ure food tracker??
    4154 days ago
    Hey girl, good blog. You should read The Gabriel Method -- they market it as a way to lose weight without dieting, but when you read the book one of the bigger points it makes is almost this exactly -- that many people are starving themselves even eating 2000 + cals a day because they aren't getting nutrients, so even though they are eating they are still starving. A great book, I highly recommend it!
    4154 days ago
    I love this blog and I agree!!! I am going to quote Michael Pollan (for the millionth time) "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." My body feels so much better with the way I eat now, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, way better than when I was eating "diet" food, and I weigh less now while eating more! It is so funny how now I would rather eat a frozen banana "soft serve" than real ice cream. You are awesome Kelly, such an inspiration to people that are trying to eat better!
    4154 days ago
  • no profile photo CD2415256
    Thanks for the great blog. I am slowly trying to get rid of artificial sweeteners but my husband loves them. I also try to eat clean about 70% of the time - except of course when we eat out. Hopefully I can be as strong as you and give artificial sweeteners up for good! emoticon
    4154 days ago
    Thank you! This is very interesting and I have started my battle. I to have suffered debilitating headaches for years and as I have started to change I have not had one... maybe a slight ache but not like they were. Maybe the final draw is to drop the fake sugar... I am a huge gum chewer... HUGE.. like a half pack a day. I gave all my gum away yesterday and am carrying a toothbrush and toothpaste with me so I can brush after my lunches. I hate the taste of food in my mouth, I know that sounds strange. Anyways.. thank you for the info!
    4154 days ago
  • DS9KIE
    great blog

    It just goes to show that we are what we eat

    4154 days ago
    Great post Kelly! I was the artificial sweetener queen as well! Seems so simple- the more natural we eat- the better we feel! I feel better today then I did 20 years ago! Clean eating is the best thing we can do for ourselves! Keep up the great work! You're inspiring! Angela
    4154 days ago
  • SUNNY142
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have just very recently started to make this change... and I really am already feeling the difference. I too craved artificial sweeteners and was rarely ever satisfied. Your blog really helped keep my positive about my decision to swap it out for REAL food.
    4154 days ago
    I absolutely agree. Never got into them, so that's one thing I didn't have to struggle with. Good for you - what a victory!
    4154 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your story. Personally, I have never acquired a taste for artificial sweeteners; I guess I am one of the lucky ones that experience that awful aftertaste emoticon
    I have consumed my share of junk food though, and I agree, we really need to be aware of what is in and on (thinking of pesticides here) our foods.
    4154 days ago
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