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The artificial sweeteners report - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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The artificial sweeteners report [Jul. 7th, 2010|08:33 am]
Zoethe
First of all, thank you to everyone who suggested topics to me - I am overwhelmed by all the great ideas and will be working through them a bit at a time. One of the topics mentioned turned out to be a good reminder - I haven't written any reflections on a month without artificial sweeteners.

As some of you might remember, at the beginning of June I decided to give up artificial sweeteners entirely for one month, just to see if it had any effect on my health. I am pleased to report that I made it through the entire month and have, in fact, continued to not use them.

Alas, I cannot report any amazing health differences.

Unlike upping my milk consumption or starting the smoothie regimen, this change has been pretty unremarkable. I horsed around with Stevia a bit, and making hot tea with honey, which I then iced to substitute for my tea habit. But both of them were too much trouble, and in the end I pretty much got unhooked from caffeine. If we go out somewhere I will still drink coffee, so I'm not giving up caffeine, but it is no longer a daily habit.

I've lost a few pounds, but seem to have plateaued in that regard. The only thing I've really noticed is that sweet things taste a bit sweeter to me, and my tolerance for the taste of artificial ingredients and preservatives has decreased considerably. But as far as noticeable health effects, very little. If anything, my insomnia is slightly worse.

All that being said, I'm still off the artificial sweeteners? Why? Well, drinking plain water isn't so bad after all, and who knows; maybe another month or so will turn up some unexpected positive health effect. In other words, I have no real reason why, except vague superstition.

I have a ton of the artificial iced tea that I love so dearly. It's hanging around the house in jars, rather like Charlie's stash of heroin-stuffed BVM statues - I'm not using, it's just comforting to know that I could if I needed to. As to what this latest experiment has taught me, I must say that I don't know that it's taught me anything.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: andrewducker
2010-07-07 12:42 pm (UTC)
I stopped using sweeteners much a while back. I'll still drink sweetened things, but not nearly as often, and my standard drink is water. I found that spending a week drinking water made a huge difference to me in regards my tastes, where things that had previously tasted "right" now tasted very sweet.

I also discovered that aspartame seems to cause me to have sweetness cravings, while sucralose/splenda doesn't. So now I stick to using Splenda when I have occasional cups of tea.

(I don't use sugar at all, due to blood sugar issues)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 12:53 pm (UTC)
Splenda has a weird aftertaste to me - which is many people's complaint about aspartame. I don't have blood sugar issues, so I will stick with sugar, though I don't use it often.
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[User Picture]From: rain_herself
2010-07-07 12:46 pm (UTC)
Well, less neurotoxins, while possibly not immediately noticeable, seems like a good thing.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 12:55 pm (UTC)
That's also my thought. I just want flashier results!
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[User Picture]From: rain_herself
2010-07-07 01:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah, there should be some sort of obvious cognitive reward. It's totally unfair.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 01:20 pm (UTC)
I've gotten spoiled, honestly, by the other changes being so impressive.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2010-07-07 01:22 pm (UTC)
I do use Stevia, but...I gave up soft drinks (as in carbonated) awhile ago and I never learned to drink tea with anything in it. Quite honestly, sucralose and aspartame scare the living crap out of me - anything with the same chemicals in it as chlorine bleach, put in my food? Nuh-uh. But that's my opinion. Stevia is rather sweeter than sugar, so I use less.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 02:40 pm (UTC)
I don't object to Stevia; I'm just lazy. If I have to brew the tea, then cool the tea, then ice the tea, then sweeten the tea? I'll drink water.

Lazy.

There's nothing other than tea in which I used artificial sweeteners, so I have no real need for Stevia.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2010-07-07 03:01 pm (UTC)
It really is true that water is better for you anyway. A little squeeze of lemon or lime is refreshing sometimes.

I LOVE your icon and the title of your LJ.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 03:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I love the title of my LJ, too. And someone sent me the original picture (on my info page) from which the icon is taken because it was so perfect for me.
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[User Picture]From: anivair
2010-07-07 01:56 pm (UTC)
I'm off artificial sweeteners at the moment because I hope they're giving me headaches. the alternative is that my head is giving me headaches, and I'd rather blame Crystal Light if I can, but so far, no good.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 02:47 pm (UTC)
Boo. I hope that changes for you. I know a lot of people complain of headaches from aspartame.
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[User Picture]From: bunny42
2010-07-07 02:19 pm (UTC)
Some doctors claim that drinking diet sodas actually contributes to weight gain, because people compensate for all the calories they're avoiding in the sodas by eating more of something else. I find that insulting, myself. I should have sense enough to realize that total caloric intake matters, right? But that's what they say.

As for Splenda, I find no difference in taste at all. In fact, sugary things now taste too sweet to me. As you said, Equal and Sweet 'n' Low leave a nasty aftertaste in my mouth. The only "side effect" I've sometimes noticed with Splenda is that if I consume massive amounts of it in a day, say, by drinking quarts and quarts of Crystal Lite, sometimes I have looser bowel movements. Not always, not even often. And they do warn on the labels that this could happen.

I bought some Stevia to try, but my friends tell me they didn't like it, preferred Splenda. I'll have to see for myself.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 02:48 pm (UTC)
Whereas, for me? No aftertaste from Equal, but I get an aftertaste off of Splenda. The tongue is a weird thing.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2010-07-07 03:04 pm (UTC)
if I may butt in here - Stevia IS all natural. before it was refined to what you have there, it was a leaf. Splenda is a chemical, any way you cut it.

However...there are lots of bad things that are all natural. Like, for example, poison mushrooms.
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[User Picture]From: weds
2010-07-07 04:51 pm (UTC)
Okay, I can't not here. :/

Stevia is a chemical. Water is a chemical. Chemicals have both natural and artificial sources, and using the word "chemical" to mean "artificial/lab-made" fuels the polarization problem. (And other problems.)

I realize you're not drawing the good/bad line here, but please be careful with the word.

Disclaimer: wednesday was raised around chemists.

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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2010-07-07 05:05 pm (UTC)
Okay, I stand corrected!
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[User Picture]From: bunny42
2010-07-08 08:42 pm (UTC)
And poison ivy, which I had for over two weeks, recently. Couldn't get rid of it. I'm gonna be a lot more careful.
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[User Picture]From: forestmaster
2010-07-07 02:25 pm (UTC)
The few pounds thing isn't bad, if not a grand flashy result... having to use less other sugar substitutes or having less caffeine is probably a good thing, too. I am with you in that if I want the sugar, I'll have the sugar occasionally and call it good. I don't like the taste of artificial sweeteners and the more I read up on them, the gladder I am to avoid them as much as possible. Your tolerance for tasting artificial things decreasing is also a less dramatically flashy but probably good in many less obvious ways over time... glad you're still off of 'em, for what it is worth.

I would have Stevia on occasion, but have generally just been drinking water and tea (mostly green or herbal but also black on occasion) without added sweetener... then I ended up having some green tea that came with Stevia in the tea bag... not sure what I think about that... other than it's too sweet for every day consumption [wry grin]
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 02:54 pm (UTC)
It's definitely an improvement, and decreasing the toxic chemicals in my system is worthwhile.
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[User Picture]From: roaming
2010-07-07 02:45 pm (UTC)
I'm a fan of Dr. Mark Hyman, who is one of those "integrative medicine" docs. He used to run Canyon Rance (detox, diet) in the Berkshires. He's still out there, but running his own show, and giving week long workshops. His book have names like ULTRA Simple Diet, ULTRA Metabolism. His philosophy is like "Eat REAL Food. Not too much. Lots of Veggies."

Anyway, my point in pointing him out is he's said that 1) he didn't start out to write diet books; he started trying to make people who felt sick and tired a lot feel better. Along the way they just happened to lose weight easily. And 2) it takes about THREE months for a new regime to have noticeable effect. EXCEPT that usually, in the first month, when one stops eating what one used to, one "detoxes" and can feel markedly worse at first. More headaches, more tired, etc. etc. So the whole willpower thing is necessary to get through that into the light of health. :-)

It may be for you artificial sweeteners wasn't the trigger, or you weren't doing that much anyway. I don't know. Just interjecting that it may take more than one month to feel noticeable difference/improvement.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 02:58 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm staying off of them, so it will be interesting to see if there is more results coming.

And my standards are high because there was such a quick and dramatic change in my health after the last couple major changes I made. Unrealistic to expect every change to be like that, but also very human.
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[User Picture]From: taerin
2010-07-07 03:38 pm (UTC)
I've recently been introduced to a tea that I instantly fell in love with, and that requires no sweetening.

It's called Sweet and Spicy, is made by Good Earth and comes in regular and decaf.

I'm not sure what's in it to make it sweet, though I suspect it's included in the "Natural flavors" part of the ingredient list: Black Tea, Natural Flavors, Rosehips, Cinnamon, Chamomile, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Papaya, Jasmine Tea, Anise Seed, Ginger Root, Orange Peel and Orange Oil. Contains no sugar, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

As named, it's slightly spicy and a bit sweet, and the closest I can get to describing the flavor is the sort of cinnamon that Big Red gum has. I love this stuff SO much, and drink a mug or two every day.

I found it at Kroger, so perhaps it will be available in a grocery store in your part of the world.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 05:02 pm (UTC)
It is my favorite tea, which I put just a bit of honey in. I love it and have much, but again, I am lazy about making myself iced tea from it.
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[User Picture]From: ckocher
2010-07-07 07:13 pm (UTC)
I make iced tea out of the sweet n' spicy and love, love, love it. It's also my favorite hot tea in the winter.

Here's the super-lazy way to make it - get a gallon-sized suntea jar. Fill with water and tea bags, put in the sun for a few hours, then put it in the fridge. Minimal work and it'll be nice and cold within a day (or you can pour it over ice immediately).
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 08:35 pm (UTC)
My "down and dirty" recipe is to make hot tea with two teabags, add a bit of honey (if I don't, there is something in it that registers as really bitter on my tongue), then pour it all into a really big glass with a whole tray full of ice cubes. It dilutes to a nice tea level, and I don't have to find room for another large pitcher in my fridge!
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[User Picture]From: merle_
2010-07-07 05:58 pm (UTC)
But both of them were too much trouble, and in the end I pretty much got unhooked from caffeine.

Good for you! I somehow dropped off the caffeine train a few years ago and watch aghast at people who drink just about anything for their hourly fix. (I do still use caffeine, but only on occasion -- it is no longer a necessity)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 06:46 pm (UTC)
I will drink coffee if there is good coffee, but I've pretty much decided to give up soda entirely.
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[User Picture]From: merle_
2010-07-07 08:46 pm (UTC)
The downside is that if you give up both sugar and caffeine there are very few fluids available when you go out to eat. Herbal tea, I suppose, but I hate paying a lot of money for a tea bag in hot water.

Luckily I like plain water.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 09:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, I am quite happy with water. Which would be a problem overseas, actually. Getting a glass of tap water in Germany was an exercise in weird explanations - they couldn't seem to grasp that I actually wanted to drink the stuff from the sink, even though it was perfectly potable.
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[User Picture]From: zevhonith
2010-07-07 06:07 pm (UTC)
My understanding of the correlation between artificial sweeteners and weight gain is that artificial sweeteners create and encourage a sweet tooth. I would be interested to hear a month from now what your sweet tooth is like, if it's changed, if you find that you crave sweets less often.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 06:47 pm (UTC)
I'm not that great of a guinea pig since I'm much more of a savory person than a sweet person.
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[User Picture]From: ckocher
2010-07-07 07:10 pm (UTC)
When I am avoiding artificial sweeteners, I notice that I don't crave things as much, and I am satisfied with more natural treats. Even if I have something like ice cream, less satisfies me. I enjoy fruit more, and I notice that my flavor palate overall just gets better. When I drink more water and caffeine-free herb teas, my skin looks better too.

I don't think eliminating the artificial sweetners *causes* me to lose weight, or have better skin. It's more that removing those leaves room for better things which then lead to better results. If that makes sense. :-)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-07 08:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that does make sense.
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[User Picture]From: bunny42
2010-07-08 08:48 pm (UTC)
I have a 2-1/2 gallon clear plastic container with a spigot, which I use to make sun tea for Sean. He drinks it by the quart and it keeps in the fridge for five or six days. I just have to remember to wash/rinse out the jug and refill it. Takes four family-size teabags, and processes to a deep golden brown in about four hours. He wouldn't be much help in the sweetener department, though, because he drinks it straight, with a dash of lemon. Before, he was drinking four or five regular Cokes per day, so this is a definite improvement.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-08 10:22 pm (UTC)
I'm off caffeine at this point - having just spent an entire night thrashing around thanks to iced tea at dinner.
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[User Picture]From: fitfool
2010-07-09 12:32 pm (UTC)
Other people have mentioned experiencing far fewer headaches after
cutting artificial sweeteners. But that's all I know of it.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-09 01:05 pm (UTC)
I had a headache at the beginning of this, but that was caffeine withdrawal. I will have to monitor to see if it impacts my migraines.
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[User Picture]From: stonehenge1121
2010-07-09 06:30 pm (UTC)
I'll just put in my pennies worth: I've read(I'll find the reference ...eventually) that a neuro-scientist found that aspartame breaks down into MSG in the body. Gotta love that crazy-twitchy glutamine response!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-07-09 06:40 pm (UTC)
I've read wood alcohol and formaldehyde, but not MSG.
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[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2010-07-22 03:46 am (UTC)
same here ...
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