If you had to take a guess, you probably would assume that I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners, but you might be surprised to learn that there was a time in my life when I relied on them heavily!
Many people assume that breaking your dependence on most things is just a matter of willpower, right?
Tired of feeling fat? GO TO THE GYM!
Tired of cellulite? GO TO THE GYM!
Disgusted with your muffin top? GO TO THE GYM!
Gaining weight? GO TO THE GYM!
Eating like crap? GO TO THE GYM!
But working out is only ONE FACTOR. Sure, it SOUNDS easy…
and there are a lot of well-intentioned people who think it IS easy (and won’t hesitate to tell you so)! But how often do you feel like you’re a failure because you’re still struggling?
While many of us may start out with good intentions, it’s easy to feel defeated when you aren’t making progress.
Having struggled myself, first with an unhealthy relationship with processed snacks (yes, it’s true) and then with a dependence on artificial sweeteners that I thought would help me break that cycle, I know that sometimes it takes more than desire and willpower to change.
Although reducing your sugar intake naturally–that is, without a reliance on artificial sweeteners–is the ideal way to transition, if it were as easy as all that, everyone would be doing it!
Sugar, as you know, is not exactly a health food. In fact, the National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends that daily sugar consumption be kept to under 25g of added sugar* (a Snicker Bar has 27g of sugar) per day.
Added sugar is readily found in processed and artificial foods. Foods such as meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables are not “processed” and therefore are not factored in to this calculation. Don’t fool yourself though, HOMEMADE brownies from scratch using “Organic” ingredients aren’t “healthy” for you either! (Darn it)!
You CAN decrease your cravings on sugar and your dependence upon them too, but it can be a long process of slowly adjusting your taste buds to less and less added sugar.
Artificial sweeteners were originally developed as a way to add sweetness to foods and beverages, without adding calories and while they may be beneficial in the lives of some diabetics, Artificial sweeteners aren’t the great weight-loss promoters, nor the best choice Scientists and the Food Industry had hoped they’d be.
The idea was that you could still get the sweetness, without the calories seemed like a very simple concept.
Rather than seeing a decrease in obesity rates since processed foods entered the market at the turn of the Century, however, the opposite has been true. For a fascinating look at the “development” on “Processed Foods” since as early as 1910, click here!
While “Sugar Substitutes” fall into several categories, what they all have in common is an unnaturally heightened sweet taste and fewer calories than plain sugar. While the “fewer calories than plain sugar” part might make you say, “A-HA! They ARE better for me!” However, artificial sweeteners are also known as “non-nutritive sweeteners,” meaning they not only provide no calories, they provide zero beneficial nutrients and include things like:
- Saccharin (Sweet & Low)
- Acesulfame potassium
- Aspartame (Equal & NutraSweet)
- Sucralose (Splenda)
While the names are less important, what is more important are they ways that artificial sweeteners negatively affect our bodies and steps we can take to reduce all sweeteners in our diets.
There are several different theories as to how and why artificial sweeteners affect our bodies, but the reality is we don’t really know for sure! Just like different types of foods or medications affect individuals in a range of ways, artificial sweeteners are likely the same.
Some of the more popular theories about how artificial sweeteners affect your health are:
- People who consume artificial sweeteners feel that they can eat other highly processed foods because they’re “saving calories” by drinking diet soda or foods containing them.
- Artificial sweeteners change an individial’s taste preferences so that fruits–a natural source of sugar–begin to taste less satisfying.
- Due to the intensity of their sweetness, artificial sweeteners increase our cravings for more sweets.
- Digestion is said to begin in the mouth. Artificial sweeteners may signal our bodies to release insulin to lower our blood sugar; but, because we aren’t actually ingesting sugar, our blood sugar levels get too low, intensifying our cravings for sugary foods
- Animal study suggest that saccharin may inspire addictive tendencies toward it.
- Artificial sweeteners may disrupt the complex response involving our gut microbes and how they help to regulate our blood sugar levels.
Decreasing your dependence of sugary foods or artificial sweeteners is a struggle for many people (present company included)! Reducing your sugar intake, requires that you implement strategies, so you naturally re-train your palate and start enjoying the taste of real food that isn’t overly sweet. Doing so is not only healthier for you, it can also reduce your reliance on the use of artificial sweeteners.
Looking for tips to reduce or eliminate your sugar intake?
10 Simple Ways To Kick The Sugar Habit:
- Remove products with artificial or added sugar from your pantry (if this means throwing out half your food, consider buying less and less each time you go to the store). Want a quick fix? Check out my Ditch The Junk Done-For-You Guide Perfect for the busy woman who wants to change but has no idea where to begin!
- Do you struggle with willpower once you’re in the grocery store? Make a list and stick to it!
- Shop the perimeter of your store. MOST of the foods in the center are filled with sugar or artificial sweeteners. Want to learn more about hidden sugars in your foods? Read this post!
- Don’t shop when you’re hungry–pair an ounce of your favorite nuts with a piece of string cheese or your favorite piece of fruit about 20-30 minutes before you go shopping.
- Having nasty cravings? Drink hot tea or eat a snack high in protein and high in fiber, such as yogurt and berries
- Chew mint gum or brush your teeth
- Eat protein at every meal. If you’re craving something sweet, eat a piece of fruit FIRST, then reassess. Chances are your craving will have passed.
- Eat CHOCOLATE (what?!) I was just seeing if you were paying attention! But if you really want something to satisfy that sweet tooth and nothing else will do, eat chocolate! When choosing what to get however, choose wisely and buy dark chocolate that is 85% Cacao or higher. Pair with a cup of tea, coffee, or even half a glass of red wine. *Eating the whole bar, however, is not recommended! 😀
- Are you an abstainer or a moderator? Some of us are all or nothing kind of people. When it comes to most sweets, I do better if there are none in the house (out of sight is truly out of mind). Think about where you fall on the spectrum. If that sleeve of Oreos is going to be calling your name, do yourself a favor and don’t bring them home and tell yourself you’ll only eat one or two. That is the very definition of self-sabotage.
- Allow yourself the occasional indulgence OUTSIDE of your home. We don’t typically keep sweets in our house since resisting the temptation is more difficult for us with it sitting RIGHT THERE! We don’t dine out often, but when we do, we’ll occasionally order dessert. The caveats? We always share and what we don’t eat stays there!
Remember that change takes time. Willpower alone isn’t enough. In order to change your body, you have to change your habits and behaviors, one step at a time.
Founder and Creator of Fitness MOMents® LLCTrish Marmo is on a one woman mission to help Moms everywhere get their bodies back after babies! If you like what you’ve read here, be sure to share on Social Media! Comments and feedback are always welcome! <3