Artificial sweetener is everywhere. Calorie conscious individuals, such as myself, long gave up sugar — it’s how many calories for how many tablespoons? No thanks! — not wanting to “waste points” on sweet tea, sugar in coffee, etc. And why drink sugar when the alternative was even sweeter, and advertised as zero calories? ZERO!
But the price we pay for our zero calorie sugar hit is a high one. I always knew, in the back of my mind, that consuming chemical substances, or really anything with “artificial” in the title, was risky business. As I like to say: something is going to kill me. Might as well be Diet Coke and coffee.
What I never quite connected was how artificial sweetener might be adversely affecting my weight. Because a chemical substance, naturally, is not food. And it’s not nutritious.
Last month, I read The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss and as much as I abhor fad diets (and Idiot’s Guide books), I found many of the points fascinating and illuminating. There’s a complex interplay between what we eat/drink/do and how our body processes them and signals hormones. A lot of hormones related to weight loss/body can be and are messed up by processed foods, poor diet, stress, toxins etc.
And artificial sweeteners are, simply, bad news. Aspartame, specifically, more commonly known as Equal (at least as far as little packets are concerned), breaks down into several chemical substances that our bodies may not react well to, including methanol, formaldehyde and then formic acid. Yes, aspartame is ‘safe,’ but it can and does interfere with hormones — and that can lead to weight GAIN, despite the “zero calorie” benefit. Subconsciously, I knew this. I knew I was ingesting chemicals, and I was OK with it. But I thought it was helping me maintain a healthy weight. But if it’s actively keeping me from losing weight? Deal breaker.
So I’ve decided to wean myself off Aspartame. My coffee habit has escalated to 1-2 cups a day (and 2 Equal packets per cup), plus I drink diet soda 2-3 times a week — that’s more aspartame than I am comfortable with, and certainly enough to potentially hinder my weight loss efforts. What good is eating “healthy,” including not consuming high fructose corn syrup, if I’m still ingesting something that messes up my body’s natural process? Yes, yes, I’m going from Aspartame to Splenda, but it’s a long process. Sucralose, aka Splenda, also can affect hormones and weight loss, but it is a “lesser of evils” compared to Aspartame, chemically. My next step is to switch from Splenda to something else — most likely Sugar in the Raw (but I’m still researching).
This is the first but not the last change that I will make inspired by the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss. Yes, I’m vaguely embarrassed to follow advice from a book from the Complete Idiot’s series, but the base logic of hormone weight loss theory makes sense to me — if you fill your body with chemicals (plus toxins, which is a whole other topic), stress it out and eat crappy food, your hormones (including insulin… hellooooo diabetes!) will get off-kilter and that messes with metabolism. I’m doing a lot of things right, and was doing so before I read the book (I am not, nor have I ever been, pre-diabetic, thankfully!), but I can identify a few areas where it’s worth experimenting and making changes.
Watch this space!
Are you hooked on artificial sweeteners? Or, have you successfully ditched them? Let’s talk sugar!