Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Soap Box Wednesdays: Artificial Sugars--No Bueno!

If you are a consumer of sugar substitutes, you may find the following post slightly offensive. After thoughtful consideration, I decided to share the full spectrum of my feelings on this matter, which are quite negative. If you are consumer of these products, please don't take my ranting personally, I still have much love for you. However, as your friend (blog world or otherwise) I implore you to at the very least consider reducing or better yet eliminating these products from your diet. The world won't come to an end  and you probably won't gain 5 pounds if you consume real sugar every now and then. Just don't go the full Monty with the sugar, that's just not a good look.

"Artificial sweeteners are chemicals or natural compounds that offer the sweetness of sugar without as many calories. Because the substitutes are much sweeter than sugar, it takes a much smaller quantity to create the same sweetness. Products made with artificial sweeteners have a much lower calorie count than do those made with sugar. Artificial sweeteners are often used as part of a weight-loss plan or as a means to control weight gain." -Mayo Clinic
As long as I can remember, I've always hated artificial sugars. Back in my single digit age days, I learned early on the difference in taste and texture between the real lollipops and the "sugar free" lollipops at the bank [I loved going to the bank with my mom just for the lollipops]. I didn't understand the concept of an oxymoron at that age, but I knew that sugar free candy just wasn't right, and was personally offended by the very concept of if. Fast forwarded to my older and wiser self now, and that feeling has evolved into a philosophy of "There is no such thing as a chemically altered zero calorie sweetener that's good for you". Diet soda, diet cookies, sugar free ice cream...WRONG, WRONG, and WRONG! These man made concoctions are an offense to God and nature [and my discriminating pallet] and I'm not the only one who feels this way. There is a growing body of research that indicates that these products may actually make you gain weight and growing speculation that they can make you sick.

I've been meaning to talk about this topic for a while but never got around to it. So why blog about it now?  Well, yesterday I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Fired N' Fabulous, and she had a guest post called the Skinny Bitch Food Diary. So as I read this skinny bitch's food diary, I noticed a recurring theme that was PISSING ME OFF, sugar free EVERYTHING which completely conflicts with her philosophy of eating things that are "alive and come from the earth." Sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K, and saccharin came out of some food mega business's chemistry lab, NOT THE DAMN EARTH. ::side bar:: This skinny bitch runs a minimum of 20 miles per week and and is a fitness instructor, yet her food diary seemed curiously low on the calories. When I was running 3-4 miles a week, I couldn't eat enough to keep my weight up. But then again, I have a very sensitive metabolism, so I can't really judge her on her obsession with salads and apparent disregard for meat. But again, that is fodder for another blog post. But I can judge the numerous offenses against food like sugar free syrup on her egg white oatmeal pancakes [no comment on those pancakes] fucking gross! I understand that syrup is essentially liquid sugar, but really, sugar free syrup?! Fuck outta here! OR better yet, just eat your pancakes with fresh fruit, and skip the syrup all together. If I can do it, and I'm a self admitted sugar monster, she can do it too! Then there was the sugar free coffeemate for her coffee. I'm a purist, So I prefer milk or cream to artificial coffeemate crap any day, so once again, no bueno. Two teaspoons of sugar should be more than adequate, but sugar substitutes are like 100 times sweeter than cane sugar, and your body gets used to that sort of sweetness. And finally she said to satisfy her occasional chocolate cravings, she'll mix a packet of sugar free hot cocoa mix with almond milk and banana. I'm admittedly biased against this one, b/c I hate banana, I hate almond milk, and I hate powdered hot chocolate mix. But again with the sugar free shit...side eye to this chick. SIDE EYE! But enough of my commentary, here's what the science says about artificial sugars.

Weight Gain 
Researchers have laboratory evidence that the widespread use of no-calorie sweeteners may actually make it harder for people to control their intake and body weight. Researchers at Purdue University found that rats on diets containing the artificial sweetener saccharin gained more weight than rats given sugary food. The rats whose diets contained artificial sweeteners appeared to experience a physiological connection between sweet tastes and calories, which drove them to overeat. According to ABC News' medical contributor Dr. Marie Savard,
"There's something about diet foods that changes your metabolic limit, your brain chemistry."
Though Savard said more research needs to be done to uncover more information, the study does hit at the idea that sweeteners alter a persons' metabolism. Dr. Savard goes on to say that another recent study, which included more than 18,000 people, found healthy adults who consumed at least one diet drink a day could increase their chance for weight gain.
"The taste buds taste sweet, but there's no calorie load that comes with it. There's a mismatch here. It seems it changes your brain chemistry in some way," Savard said. "Anything you put in your mouth, your body has a strong reaction to it. It's much more than counting calories. It seems normally with sweet foods that we rev up our metabolism"
A separate study came to similar conclusions. The findings come from eight years of data collected by Sharon P. Fowler, MPH, and colleagues at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. Fowler reported the data at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association in San Diego.

 "What didn't surprise us was that total soft drink use was linked to overweight and obesity," Fowler tells Web MD. "What was surprising was when we looked at people only drinking diet soft drinks, their risk of obesity was even higher."
"In fact, when the researchers took a closer look at their data, they found that nearly all the obesity risk from soft drinks came from diet sodas."

"There was a 41% increase in risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumes each day," Fowler says.
Please note, however, that due to the nature of scientific research, it has NOT been determined nor has the research claimed that there is a direct causal relationship between the use of artificial sugars and weight gain or obesity. But the research does indicate that there may be correlation between the two, and at the very least, the consumption of such products may alter your body's reactions to the sensation of sweet. As far as I'm concerned, that in itself in addition the fact that fake sugar tastes like ass, is reason enough for me to stay far FAR away from it.

Safety Concerns
The scientific community has not yet conceded that these products may be causing other harm to humans like cancer and M.S., but there's a plethora of that the wackadoodles and conspiracy theorists across the world wide web that think otherwise. Basically the science has said that in lab rats fed a ridiculous amount of various artificial sugars, cancers have been observed. But to extrapolate that data within the human population is unrealistic--according to the scientific community. However, I'll cite Dr. Savard once again,
"We have to rethink what this artificial stuff does to us. If we put this in water it might not be so good." 
For me, better safe than sorry. I was also going go off on a tangent about how very arrogant it is of our society to think they can one up nature give people an excuse to not moderate their intake of junk or scare the weight conscious into consuming altered "foods" in the name of health. But I think my comment about this being an offense against God and nature says it all.
I'll leave you with this last statement from the Mayo Clinic.
Just removing sugar from cookies and chocolates doesn't make them low-calorie, low-fat foods. If you eat too many, you'll still get more calories than you may need, and you may not get enough nutritious foods. Unlike fruits, vegetables and whole grains, sugar-free soft drinks, candy and desserts often provide few — if any — beneficial nutrients.


  1. I nearly fell off my bed laughing! That's why I love you...tehehe. I personally think that the FDA, food companies, doctors, pharmacists, and insurance companies are all in cahoots to keep us sick. I've been going through all my products and REPLACING them. I have to call you and tell you the full story b/c I'm absolutely livid about this crap.

  2. What an AWESOME post! Ok, and don't judge me (we're kindred spirits, after all), but I usually drink a Diet Pepsi a day AND put Sweet 'n' Low in my coffee! I know it's bad and gross and just not right for my body, but I have yet to let go of these two terrible habits. I have always hear that diet sodas make you crave sweets, but I actually have them in place of sweets sometimes. Oh lord, Nadette, help me change my ways!!!

  3. Toya, yes call me and tell me everything. I'm sure I need to do a clean sweep on some of the stuff in my cabinets. Sigh!

    Ellen, b/c we are kindred spirits, i won't judge you. If experience has taught me anything, it's that the artificial sugars are damn near addictive, and you're dealing with a double whammy addiction. My first advice, is to ditch the diet pepsi--like ASAP. Here's what you do. Buy a box of fruit flavored tea, and add a teabag (or 2) to a bottle of cold water each day, and don't add any sugar. It's really refreshing and it's tasty, you won't even miss the sugar i promise! I'll leave your sweet n low alone [for now] :)

  4. I love this post! I absoultely HATE artificial sweeteners and I am repulsed by anything that has them as an ingredient. I am a baker and I pride myself on cooking from scratch. You are SO RIGHT that it's better to have a little bit of the "real thing" instead of going crazy with that fake mess.

    This chemically-altered processed food mess has got to stop. I'm shocked how many skinny people rely on convenience foods with fake sugar and too much sodium and other unpronounceable ingredients.

    I recently starting sweetening my morning coffee with organic agave nectar. It's natural and has a lower glycemic index than sugar. But I use REAL half and half, not that Coffeemate mess. I've noticed that I have little tolerance for mass produced sweet foods (Haagen Das ice cream, Rita's water ice, packaged cookies) and I believe it's because most of my meals and snacks are made from scratch.

  5. Lol! Am I one of the people you were trying not to offend? ;o) I admit since I started WW, I've relied on Splenda and Diet soft drinks to get me through. But I'm trying to cut down, especially on the soft drinks anyways. I guess a little real sugar doesn't kill, but a diet soda is "0 points versus a regular soda which is "3". I just don't see a better alternative besides water, but who wants to drink that at least not when everyone else is gulping down regular sodas. My goal is just to ween off the stuff...period! But until then, I'll have to just live with this little vice in the meantimes - fully aware of the consequences.

  6. My problem is not with artificial sugar, but I do need to reduce my sugar intake. My love for junk food is a serious vice of mine. I'm a work in progress...tehehe.

  7. Keeley, my sentiments EXACTLY. I've read into agave nectar, and i'll probably add it to my pantry pretty soon. And i feel you on the packaged sweets, Rita's isn't what it used to be, and I can't get down with the packaged cookies either. but haagen das...mmmm dulce de leche is still in my heart. i allow myself to buy it once every three months.

    Maddy, you've got to ditch the diet sodas!! Water isn't so bad, but one way to start weaning yourself off the sweet is jazz up your water. get some fruit flavored tea, and add a tea bag or two to a bottle of water. it's really refreshing, and guilt and chemical free. :)

    toya, you know i thought I was a real sugar monster...until I went to my Godmother's house. It was like the candy and cookie aisle exploded in her house. Trust me, your junkfood vice isn't that bad. but its still a good thing to work on changing.



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