I can’t believe I actually did it.
I’ve cut out Splenda from my life…. completely!
No, this wasn’t some sort of New Year’s resolution that I made or part of some new diet. I had gradually become more aware of how much artificial sweetener my family and I were consuming. It’s scary to realize that there are artificial sweeteners in lots of foods you wouldn’t expect – like breads, yogurt, crackers, and ice cream. In fact, almost all food products deemed low in sugar are high in artificial sweeteners. Even mouthwash and toothpaste are flavored with artificial sweeteners!
Splenda (sucralose) had always been my sweetener of choice. I never really liked either Equal or Sweet ‘n’ Low; they never tasted quite right. When Splenda came around, I took to it immediately. However, as it got more popular, people started questioning if it was safe. At this time, I even tried Stevia, but couldn’t stomach that at all. So I stuck with Splenda, comfortable knowing that sucralose tasted great and was an FDA approved artificial sweetener.
So when I decided to break ties with those little yellow packets, I went cold turkey. I started adding raw or minimally processed sugar to my coffee and tea. It troubled me a bit when I realized just how much real sugar I needed to sweeten my coffee. I knew Splenda was much sweeter than sugar but I guess I never fully comprehended just how much sweeter. Here are some facts comparing sweeteners:
- Splenda (contains sucralose) is approximately 600 times sweeter than sugar
- Sweet ‘n’ Low brand (contains saccharin) is approximately 300-500 times sweeter than sugar
- Equal (contains aspartame) is approximately 160-200 times sweeter than sugar
So, I dutifully added real sugar to my coffee and teas, but not more than two packets. After about a week, I eventually started skipping the sugar and got used to drinking black coffee again (like I did many years ago).
I honestly gave up Splenda as more of a personal experiment. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought it would stick. After all, I have always been a sugar addict, growing up in a house that was never without sweets. I still crave sweets from time to time, but since removing Splenda, my sweet cravings have greatly decreased. That was a pleasant surprise!
Now, any coffee or tea with Splenda tastes terrible to me. I can no longer share and sip from my husband’s cup of coffee. He tried to eliminate Splenda also, but wasn’t able to completely give it up- only reduce his consumption. He often asks me, “Do you even enjoy your coffee anymore?” To be honest, I didn’t at first; but over time, I got used to how coffee is supposed to taste, in its natural form, not with added chemicals.
At the same time, I decided to replace all of the diet soda in our house with regular soda. Since I was getting rid of Splenda, I wanted to stop drinking diet soda because it was our other big source of artificial sugars. However, this was a lot harder. First of all, getting rid of diet soda affected 3 of the 4 members of my family, whereas the coffee change only affected me. Second, I have been drinking diet soda my entire life. We NEVER had regular pop growing up. For my husband and I, this was breaking a 35 year habit.
My daughter did fine with the change to regular pop. My husband and I, not so much so. I had trouble drinking it, declaring it “too sweet,” and we both didn’t like all the extra calories we were ingesting. After about a month, we decided to switch back to diet soda, limiting consumption to as little as possible. As with everything we put into our bodies that isn’t completely natural, moderation is key.
In the end, some studies say the artificial sweeteners aren’t bad for you; others say they’re questionable. Whatever the truth is, I’ve simply decided to limit my artificial intake. Sure, I will get a diet soda every now and then, but it’s with much less frequency.
Will this be a permanent change? I sure hope so – at least it has for the past six months. Not ingesting Splenda and other man-made sweeteners has decreased my desire for sweets altogether! So, I guess overall, it’s a win-win for me: less artificial sugars and less cravings for sweets.
And that is definitely something I can deal with!
For an excellent podcast on the ongoing debate on artificial sweeteners, check it out here at StuffYouShowKnow.com.