Hi guys and gals! Today I am going to shed some light on your options when it comes to sugar, safe artificial sweeteners currently on the market, and sugar substitutes for diabetics.

According to the 2017 NPR article entitled “Sugar Shocked” the majority of nutritional studies are funded (and of course heavily influenced) by the food industry.

This means that we as consumers need to be take publicized “scientific evidence” with a grain of salt. Unfortunately it requires some good digging to find scholarly peer-reviewed articles on the subject. Luckily for you I have done all the digging already!

Sugar

Historically found in fruits, our bodies are wired to like sugar because fruit season is right before winter. This was greatly beneficial to humans to help them gain weight before food became scarce. How to get fit and track fitness can give you a better solution.

Processed carbs = sugar. Processed carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (sugar) by the body. Once the carbs are broken down, glucose is released into your bloodstream and is treated by your body the exact same way as actual sugar. The worst offenders are of white bread, pasta, and crackers.

Sugar high: Glucose is a simple sugar that is absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. When glucose reaches the brain it activates the reward center creating a high or buzz. This is what makes sugar and starches so addicting.

Sneaky sugar: Sugars are hidden in foods such as ketchup, BBQ sauce, salad dressing, “healthy” oat cereals, flavored yogurt and dried fruit. Beat these sneaky sugars by reading nutrition labels, asking for sauces on the side and using these sauces with moderation.

Artificial Sweeteners

While artificial sweeteners contain no calories, they are far more potent than table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

Acesulfame K (stevia and truvia) is 200 times stronger than sugar

Aspartame (equal) is 200 times stronger than sugar
Saccharin (sweet’n low) is 700 times stronger than sugar
Sucralose (splenda) is 600 times stronger than sugar

Don’t buy the claim that stevia and truvia are “more natural” because they are derived from leaves. They may have been leaves once but they have been so processed and chemical-ized that they look like all the other artificial sweeteners. There is nothing “more natural” about that.

Artificial sweeteners change the way we taste food. Using overly intense sweeteners leaves the taste buds unable to tolerate complex tastes. In other words, use of artificial sweeteners can make you dislike healthy and highly nutritious foods and crave more artificially flavored foods with less nutritional value.

Diet sodas make you gain weight and are directly correlated with type II diabetes. The idea is that with less sugar and therefore calories in the drink, diet sodas will allow an individual to get their caffeine or carbonation fix without unnecessary calories. Sugar stimulates your sugar receptors, which is the body’s cue to secrete insulin into the bloodstream to prepare for the blood glucose spike that is to come. With artificial sugars, the sugar receptors are stimulated and insulin is added to the blood but there is no sugar for the body to process in order to bring your blood sugar to normal levels. Your body then craves sugar and starches until you give in to your craving and blood glucose levels have normalized. Most people reach for another diet soda. This not only does not satisfy the body, but also teaches it to be insulin resistant (aka type II diabetes).

A side note: As a Certified Diabetes educator it appalls and infuriates me that a Harvard study found that artificial sweeteners cause glucose intolerance (type II diabetes) in 2012 and the diabetes education curriculum still suggests those at risk of developing diabetes and diabetics use artificial sweeteners. It makes me wonder who is funding that program.

Flavored water additives = artificial sweeteners. If you do not like how water tastes, chug it. You will learn to appreciate it.

So, What Now?

Both sugar and artificial sweeteners are addictive and have severe negative consequence; so now what?

Picking your poison. If you use artificial sweeteners, switch to real sugar. This will allow your palate to normalize. Mother nature had it right to begin with. *If you are a diabetic and use a lot of artificial sweeteners, I suggest you wean yourself off of artificial sweeteners and then switch to real sugar to avoid hyperglycemia.

Slow and steady wins the race. As noble as quitting “cold turkey” is, it is unrealistic and in most cases leads to severe backslides and binge consumption. Keep a food journal or just be more aware of your sugar intake and shoot to decrease your sugar consumption from yesterday. Don’t let an off day kick you off track forever. Learn from your mistakes and do better tomorrow.

Diet vs. fully sugary soda. There is nothing healthy or necessary about any soda. Having said that, there are addictions involved that need to be dealt with. Given the option between a diet and regular drink, a regular-fully-sugared drink has less negligible effects. Beware of the 150 calories of almost all sugar in each can. Sip sodas and take your time drinking them to thoroughly enjoy them and satisfy your craving. Do not use straws, they allow liquid to enter your body without you tasting it. If you are thirsty drink a bottle of water before allowing yourself to open a soda. Cut down your soda consumption. How long can you make one can last?

I once got after the chief of dietary at a hospital I used to work at for drinking 15 diet sodas a day! He immediately switched to regular sodas and because they had real sugar in them he wasn’t able to drink as many before the sugar made him feel sick. Then he did something genius.. he would allow himself to have a soda during lunch and then he would brush his teeth. He said even if he was craving a post-lunch soda he would refrain because his mouth was clean already. He has been soda-free for 2 years now!

Pinch the packet method. When adding a sweetener to coffee or tea, challenge yourself to only use one packet. Once you get used to it, start pinching the corner of the packet before you pour in the sweetener so you can use less and less every time. If you don’t like the beverage with only one sweetener then you don’t like how that beverage tastes so find an alternative. I.e. green tea or water. Better yet, put a cinnamon stick in your cup of coffee for a couple minutes. The cinnamon not only flavors and slightly sweetens it, but also helps curb sugar cravings.

Healthy sweeteners. If you need to use a sweetener, make it a natural, low glycemic index sweetener. A low glycemic food is one that takes time for your body to to digest it so it slowly raises your blood sugar. A high glycemic index food is one that gives you an almost immediate sugar high. I use 1/2 tsp of organic honey in my tea sometimes.

It is not a low glycemic index sweetener but it has shown to cause less weight gain when compared to normal sugar; plus it has nutrients in it. Another good option is organic blue agave! You can find it in most grocery stores but it is cheaper online sometimes. It is a low glycemic index sweetener and is a slightly more liquid consistency than honey.

Side note: When following a baking recipe that calls for artificial sweetener packets I do use stevia. I would normally replace it with organic blue agave nectar but I don’t know enough about how that would change the chemistry of the product (one being a powder and the other being a liquid I mean).

Sorry that today’s post was so long! Artificial sweeteners get me all fired up! Below are my sources. Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions or other kicking-the-sugar-addiction ideas!

Author's Bio: 

Md Rasel is a professional blogger.