Not everyone has always been health conscious. As a matter of fact, even those of us who strive to eat only those foods that won’t hurt us have reached this point over time. If you have dietary changes that you know you need to make, in other words, you are not alone. We are all in the process of getting better each and everyday. Another way to improve? Drop the artificial sweeteners. If you are still adding artificial sweetener to your coffee, drinking diet sodas, or eating things labeled “sugar-free”, kicking those chemically-laden taste-bud tricksters is a good place to start.
Moving One Step Closer: Giving up Artificial Sweeteners
These artificial sweeteners come by many brand names. Most contain aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda), and saccharine (Sweet’N Low). When you see something advertised as “sugar-free” they contain at least one of these lab-created sweeteners. They are in numerous products, whether you know it or not. And they come with potentially disastrous side effects including cancer. So, how do you kick the habit?
If you eat a lot of these sweeteners, you may just start by cutting back dramatically. Going cold turkey can be hard for some people. If you can do it, more power to you, but if you know you would be setting yourself up for failure, take it more slowly. Allow yourself only one soda per day, for instance, or a half-packet of sweetener in your coffee. Do this until you can completely give them up (but don’t wait too long).
Your taste buds have become accustomed to the sweeteners, and so has your brain, so quitting might not be as easy as you would like. These chemicals act as excitotoxins in the brain, stimulating activity and increasing that taste-satisfaction. Remember this as you cope with any cravings or the feeling that your drinks just aren’t sweet enough. If you need something sweet, try adding agave nectar or local honey. The health benefits of honey alone are incredible. If you’re craving a diet soda, try a cup of tea with lemon and honey, or just some ice water. You can also try replacing these artificial sweeteners with stevia, a popular natural sweetener.
Artificial sweeteners, like high fructose corn syrup, truly are habit forming. Quitting them is like quitting any other drug or stopping any habit, and the longer you’ve been “hooked”, the harder it will be. Just remember that you are taking steps to better your health. Once you get over the hump, so to speak, you will find the cravings dissipate. Eliminating the use of these sweeteners altogether is the ultimate goal. And once you’ve done that, you won’t be able to stand the taste of the phony sugar-wannabes.