February 11, 2012 by Zuri
This week’s most-likely-far-too-long post is about Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners. I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I’m not usually very big into cakes and candy, but sugary drinks are pretty much my downfall. I love sodas and juices. I’ve been thinking a bit on this lately.
I’ve read quite a bit on ye olde innerwebs about sugar and why we consume so much of it. A lot of it has to do with how readily available it is. I mean, look on the label of nearly anything and you’ll find it’s probably loaded with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). You might be lucky enough to find something with Sugar or Cane Sugar in it, but that’s fast becoming a rarity.
It makes me think, though, are our diets training us to crave sweets? Is it just because of the availability? Does it have to do with our insulin production? Are people turning to Artificial Sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharine) in an effort to shake the habit, but only making themselves worse off in the long run?
There’s a lot of research out there about the negative impact of Artificial Sweeteners on our bodies. Drinking and eating a science experiment can’t be good for us. Some studies claim they cause cancer. Another claims they contribute to obesity and overeating. All in all, if you’re eating clean, it’s definitely something you want to avoid. For a sucker with a sweet tooth, however, it usually ends up being the lesser of two evils. I am one of those suckers.
I started label watching a little over a year ago, after seeing all the negative press regarding HFCS. I try my best to avoid it in food and drinks. This week, I went to buy some 100% Whole Wheat Bread, and looking at labels, kept finding ones with HFCS in it. In the end, the loaf I went with had plain Sugar in it instead. Again, the lesser of two evils I suppose. I’ve cut nearly all of the soda out of my diet, but replaced it with flavoured carbonated water or the occasional diet soda. It’s not just the sweetness I want, but the carbonation. I really love those bubbles! I also make a pitcher of Crystal Light to keep in my fridge for the times where bubbles aren’t a high priority.
Here’s the breakdown of Artificial Sweeteners in my diet. Consider it a confession at the alter of the Internets. I’m not condoning the comsumption of Artificial Sweeteners. I’m just saying they’re out there, and sugar junkies like me are still addicted to them.
I consume this more often than any other sweetener. Crystal Light, Walmart’s Great Value Flavoured Water, Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry – all zero calorie and sweetened with Aspartame. It took me a while to get accustomed to the aftertaste, and anyone who tells you there isn’t an aftertaste is a liar. This one seems to be the most common Artificial Sweetener, but I think it’s fast being overtaken by other forms of sweeteners. Not my favourite.
Another one popular with flavoured waters, like Fruit2O and Sparkling Ice. At least Sparkling Ice also sweetens with fruit juice, other fruit flavours and green tea. I prefer this to Aspartame, as it doesn’t have the nasty aftertaste. It’s a little harder to find though.
Not as much of an Artificial Sweetener, as a product of the Stevia plant. It’s not pure Stevia, it’s mixed with a few other things. I only use this in my tea. You only need half as much Truvia as you need regular granulated Sugar. It’s got a sweet flavour, but in my experience it has what I can only describe as a “cold” taste to it. It’s something I got used to.
Alternative Natural Sweeteners
Most of these are non-sugarcane sweeteners. I’ve been dying to try them, but don’t have ready access to them. Things like Agave Syrup, Pure Maple Syrup (not the pancake kind!), and Brown Rice Sugar. Sugars like Agave are known to have a lower glycemic index, which means they don’t cause your blood sugar to spike when you eat them.
Well, those are my experiences with Sugar and Artificial sweeteners. I know my Sugar Tooth battle is far from over, and to reach my fitness and diet goals I’m going to eventually have to beat back this demon. Mixing juice with water to cut the water’s blandness was one option I’ve considered. I can’t stand water plain, so some creativity will be in order. Crossing my fingers that I can come up with something palatable!