We’ve been hearing for years that sugar is bad for us and causes weight gain, and that information led to the onset of artificial sweeteners, especially in the diabetes and weight loss industries.
Artificial sweeteners have actually been around for decades (and one in particular since the late 1800’s), with several being banned and then re-introduced again later on.
Before we begin, let’s back up a bit to find out more about how artificial sweeteners even came to be.
Let’s start with sugar.
Why is this toxin so prevalent in our society? Most people aren’t even aware of what they are eating. One third of dietary sugar comes from soft drinks, making soda the #1 dietary source of sugar.
(Please note that when I talk about sugar here, I am referring to refined sugar and the over-abundance of it that is added to our packaged and processed foods, and not naturally occuring sugars in whole foods that actually contain beneficial nutrients.)
The statistics in this blog are based on American data, however for my fellow Canadians, we can anticipate numbers close to these.
Americans average about 55 gallons of soda per year and it takes 30 cups of water to neutralize 1 can of soda.
High fructose corn syrup increased from 0% of American diets in 1966 to 63lbs a year in 2001.
The average American drinks 55 Gallons of Soda per year!
Sugar is in everything and these are just a few examples of things you might not expect it to be in:
Pasta sauces, Lunch meats, Canned foods, Condiments like ketchup & Mayonnaise, Sauces, Salad Dressings, Crackers, Fruit Drinks, Yogurt, Snacks, Breads.
Balancing blood sugar is a primary component of the work I do with my clients and also in my 5-DAY SUGAR-FREE CHALLENGE because blood sugar balance is that important.
For those wanting to lose weight, long-term weight loss will NOT happen if blood sugar is not balanced.
A few facts about sugar:
If sugar is so bad, is there anything worse than sugar?
Why yes, there is.
Introducing Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners have long been positioned as “guilt free” and safe alternatives, causing many people to turn to them. We know now that “safe” and artificial sweeteners do not belong in the same sentence.
The slogan for Splenda is that it is made from sugar so it tastes like sugar. Strictly speaking this statement is true. However, by the time a single sugar molecule is transformed into Splenda it becomes something completely different.
Some serious side effects: gastrointestinal problems, seizures, dizziness, migraines, blurred vision, allergic reactions, blood sugar increases, weight gain, carcinogenic potential when cooking, and Splenda could kill as much as 50 percent of your microbiome.
Here are a few reasons artificial sweeteners negatively impact both your waistline and your health:
1. Artificial sweeteners mess with your brain chemistry and metabolism.
We’re led to believe that because diet soft drinks are calorie free or low-calorie that they’re a good option for our waist size, but the opposite is actually true. Drinking diet soft drinks can make you gain weight because the stimulate your taste buds and trick them to think you’re eating real sugar. Your body becomes confused and revs up the production of insulin, your fat-storage hormone. This causes your metabolism to slow down, which causes you to burn less calories every day. You then become even hungrier and more prone to eating carbs (like pasta and bread). Increased belly fat is the result.
(Fact: Artificial sweeteners can be 1000 times sweeter than sugar!)
2. Artificial sweeteners increase your risk for diabetes.
Studies are showing that sugar substitutes can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and weight gain, among other things.
3. Artificial sweeteners are highly addictive (even more than sugar!)
Artificial sweeteners can become addictive quickly and diet sodas can be really hard to give up. We’ve been midled to thinking they’re guilt-free alternatives to regular soda. The truth is losing weight in NOT all about the calories. Blood sugar imbalance, hormone balance and metabolism have everything to do with weight loss, and artificial sweeteners mess with all three of these.
These sweeteners also alter your food preferences. They’re so incredibly sweet that your palate shifts from being able to enjoy fruits, veggies and whole foods to liking only the super sweet stuff. This is why I help people avoid sugar entirely for the full 5-days in my 5-DAY SUGAR-FREE CHALLENGE, so they can reset their taste buds, so to speak, making it much easier to be satisfied with the taste of real, whole foods again.
So what can we use as a sweetener?
Stevia and xylitol can be used without raising blood sugar. Other natural sweeteners, but that do spike blood sugar and should be used in moderation are honey, dates and maple syrup. These contain beneficial nutrients as well.
In my 5-DAY SUGAR-FREE CHALLENGE, I guide you through the best and worst sweeteners, and show you which sweeteners can be used in moderation after the challenge is over, so you can take back control of your cravings, without giving up all sweets.
May Anne Jordens-LaFlamme is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and the owner of "Wellness with May Anne." She is passionate about helping women look and feel their best, so they can live a more fulfilling life - without dieting, deprivation, relying on willpower or cooking separate meals for the family.