Tag Archives: addiction

The Truth Behind Artificial Sweeteners

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Do you know how artificial sweeteners act in your body? Nobody really does! Here are some thoughts as to how they affect your body, it may inspire you to reduce the sweetness in your food and drinks.

You probably know the negative health effects of eating too much sugar, especially “added sugars” like in soda pop, candy, baked goods, and many commercially-available cereals, salad dressings, marinades and sauces, just to name a few.  Added sugar is hiding just about everywhere in the grocery store.

Yes, ingesting refined sugar spikes your blood sugar and insulin, and increases your risk for a whole host of issues.

 A while ago, one of the food industry’s responses to the demand for lower-calorie foods that still taste great, was artificial sweeteners.

The idea behind them is that you can still get the sweetness, without the calories; like when you have a “diet pop” versus a regular one. Theoretically, this was going to help people maintain a healthy body weight, and hopefully not increase anyone’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, or obesity.

But, it doesn’t always work out the way we think it will…

Types of artificial sweeteners

Sugar substitutes fall into several categories, but what they all have in common is that they have a sweet taste and fewer calories than plain sugar.

Today we’ll specifically discuss “artificial sweeteners,” which are synthetic chemicals where a tiny bit tastes very sweet.

They’re also known as “non-nutritive sweeteners,” and include things like:

  • Saccharin (Sweet & Low),
  • Acesulfame potassium,
  • Aspartame (Equal & NutraSweet), and
  • Sucralose (Splenda).

Health effects of artificial sweeteners

Negative health effects from artificial sweeteners are cited all over the place, and while many studies show effects, others don’t. Cancer? Maybe yes, maybe no. Heart disease? Maybe yes, maybe no. Not to mention that much of the research has been on animals, which may or may not translate to people.

I did want to point out one ironic thing to do with artificial sweeteners and weight.

One study found that people who tend to drink diet sodas have double the risk of gaining weight than those who didn’t.

Another study has shown an increased risk for metabolic syndrome and diabetes for those who consume diet drinks every day.

While these results don’t apply equally to everyone, they do somehow seem ironic, don’t they?

How do artificial sweeteners affect our bodies?

Now that’s a million-dollar question!

There are so many ideas out there to try to explain it, but the reality is we don’t know for sure; plus, it might play out differently in different people.

  • Is it because people feel that they can eat cake because they’ve switched to diet soda?
  • Perhaps it’s because the sweeteners change the taste preferences so that fruit starts to taste worse, and veggies taste terrible?
  • Maybe artificial sweeteners increase our cravings for more (real) sweets?
  • It can be that the sweet taste of these sweeteners signals to our body to release insulin to lower our blood sugar; but, because we didn’t actually ingest sugar, our blood sugar levels get too low, to the point where we get sugar cravings.
  • Some even say (and at least one animal study suggests) that saccharin may inspire addictive tendencies toward it. Addictive like eating behavior involves a lot more than just a lack of will power.  There are biochemical reasons why some people lose control over certain foods.  It has been linked to processed foods.  Processed foods are usually engineered to be “hyperpalatable” – so they taste super good.  They also contain high amounts of empty calories  (including artificial sugars), and cause major blood sugar imbalances
  • Maybe there is even a more complex response that involves our gut microbes and how they help to regulate our blood sugar levels.

Conclusion:

Understand that added sugar is not good for you, but the solution may not be to replace them all with artificial sweeteners.

I highly recommend reducing your sugar intake, so you naturally re-train your palate and start enjoying the taste of real food that isn’t overly sweet.  This way you’re reducing your intake of added sugar, as well as not needing to replace it with artificial sweeteners.

Try having ½ teaspoon less of sugar in your hot morning drink. Try reducing a ¼ cup of the sugar called for in some recipes. Try diluting juice with water.

 Your body will thank you!

Recipe (naturally sweetened): Sweet Enough Matcha Latte

Serves 1

1 teaspoon matcha powder

1.5 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey (optional)

1. Heat almond milk and maple syrup/honey (if using) in a small pot.

2. Add matcha powder to cup.

3. When almond milk is hot, add about a ¼ cup to matcha and stir to combine.

4. Add rest of the milk to cup.

 Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can steep a chai tea bag in the milk if you prefer chai tea over matcha.

References

https://chriskresser.com/the-unbiased-truth-about-artificial-sweeteners/

Disclaimer:

The information contained herein is NOT intended as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the care of a qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen.

My Surprising Addiction

IMG_XCskif

No, it’s not a food and neither is it an illegal substance!

This story is about my love of cross country (XC) skiing.  I hope your’e not too  disappointed.

Perhaps you wanted to read a story about how I overcame my addiction to sugar or carbohydrates or fast foods.  That I had some incredible Aha moment or devastating health crisis that led me to pursue Holistic Nutrition.

Not really, I have always been a healthy living nut and I doubt that that will change any time soon.  I’m not that geeky about it, after all I drink wine.

Besides, I’ve seen first hand the devastating affects of food addiction.  You can read about that in my blog post, saving my sister’s life with food. 

About XC skiing, an activity I was ready to give up not that long ago.  I had been XC skiing for years.  Living in Alberta with all that snow it just seemed like the right thing to do.  Downhill skiing was not appealing; to expensive and too many people on the hills.

I decided I was better suited to XC skiing.  I figure if I could walk I could XC ski.  Wrong!  I spent my time shuffling along the flats (getting nowhere), falling on the down hills and slipping and sliding (mainly backwards) on the uphills.  No one told me that XC ski trails had hills.  I thought the terrain would be flat, not some of the time but all of the time.

It was brutal for about 20 years (I know, it’s embarrassing). I took lessons, but they didn’t seem to help much, well maybe my diagonal glide improved slightly on the flats. I have no idea why I persevered for as long as I did.

Being outside in the winter wonderland was appealing to me and very Canadian.  I wanted to be part of that experience.  And  I’m one of those people who likes to finish what I start.  I don’t give up on things very easily but you’d think after 20 years……Come on!

My Aha moment came when I said to my husband “you know what, I’ve been doing this for years and I’m just not improving.  I think I’ll take up snowshoeing.  At least that way I can still enjoy the snow”.  He shrugged and said “fine, whatever you want”.  I think he was secretly relieved.

I’m not exactly sure when things changed.  Maybe when I discovered this beautiful network of trails about 4 years ago close to where I now live in Kelowna, BC. It’s become by far, my favourite place to ski and there are many choices in the area and I have been to most of them.

It seemed relatively undiscovered, with a quaint main cabin at the trail head and a series of cabins through out the trail system. It’s quite lovely, very peaceful, lots of trees and gorgeous vistas and most important many trails for the novice!  I couldn’t have been happier, I was there, often.  I would ski the easy trails and look on with envy when my husband would take off on one of the more challenging trails. I wanted to go there too.

I once again started to work on improving my ski skills, the herringbone (to get up a hill) and the snow plow (to come down a hill) and of course, the all important diagonal glide.  Then magically it seemed to “just happen”.

Not really, it took time on the ski’s and it seems it was the right time and the right place for me.  Now that’s an intangible I can’t explain.  There is no moral to this story other than sometimes you just have to accept where you are at but also be ready that things can change even when you strongly believe something isn’t possible.

I love this activity, I like that it’s demanding both physically and mentally, I get to enjoy nature, quiet time with myself, the winter season and spending time with like minded people.  No matter how I feel when I start out on a trail, the end result is that I feel happy and energized.

And one more thing, I just skied my first 21 Kilometre trail that had a section clearly stating not for novice skiers.  I hesitated for a moment. My husband saw my hesitation and turned turned to me and said ” you are no longer a novice, let’s go”. I did it and it was amazing.