The early 2000’s marked the widespread realization of the detrimental effects of excess sugar consumption. The food industry’s answer to this was to deem sugar the devil, and replace it with alternatives to mimic the taste and sweetness. We then learned that these chemical alternatives (aspartame, neotame, sucralose, etc.) were likely worse for us than sugar itself.
I don’t know about you all, but during this time period, my family ATE THIS UP (literally). As a backstory, my dad had to watch his sugar intake due to being predisposed to diabetes, so naturally our family gravitated towards low-sugar products. We bought any and all things sugar-free. All baking was done using Splenda, and eating too many chocolates from our cupboard meant spending the evening in fetal position on the couch. Then along came Stevia, and we thought our prayers were answered. Wow, a sugar free products that’s … natural?! It’s from a plant, so it must be healthy, right? Research has since proven that this may not entirely the case – and while I won’t dive into the studies, I will tell you what I’ve personally experienced with and without the use of Stevia.
It’s been one week (I know… not very long, but enough to show results), since seriously limiting my artificial sweetener intake. Yes, this includes monk fruit + stevia! While I’m definitely not demonizing these additives (they can be fine as substitutions in baking and treats), I personally became RELIANT on them. No matter which form of sweetener I used (switching to monk fruit, more natural forms, etc.) the effects remained: becoming increasingly reliant on them over time. While I haven’t cut it out of all products (several snacks I enjoy do still contain artificial sweeteners), by choosing not to add Stevia to my every day items – I’ve felt so much better.
WHAT I CUT OUT:
I’m sure if I looked at everything I put in my mouth, I would find artificial sweeteners in some things I eat … and my goal isn’t to eliminate them entirely. My goal is to not rely on them, or add them into things I eat or drink every day. I believe in everything in moderation, and prefer not to view these sweeteners as necessarily “bad” or in some sort of “can’t have” category.
So far, I’ve stopped adding ANY artificial sweetener to my coffee, yogurt, tea (hello, PassionTango tea!), almond milk, chia pudding and oatmeal. Sometimes I’d even add it to berries to cut the sour in them … YIKES.
WHAT HAS CHANGED:
- TASTE BUDS. They are adjusting, just as I had hoped! The level of sweetness I needed was ALWAYS increasing – it was most definitely a slippery slope. It was scary how things others found super sweet didn’t have much effect on me. Within almost 24 hours of making this change – my taste buds improved. Any product I came across with an artificial sweetener, I noticed right away. It suddenly tasted incredibly sweet to me. Since then, it’s become such a new found pleasure to enjoy foods & drinks in their natural state. I promise, this change happens quickly!
- LESS SUGAR CRAVINGS. Even though stevia/monk fruit and all the other additives are “sugar free” they constantly had me fixated on REAL sugar. I would in turn end up eating more real sugar, than had I not added any artificial sweeteners at all.
- BLOAT. Artificial sweeteners can cause serious stomach discomfort. After cutting down my intake, I’ve felt significantly less bloated every day. While your stomach obviously expands after a meal (because, duh, you ate!) I no longer have those awkward pains or consistent bloating throughout the day.
- Increase your fruit intake! I always eat my daily dose of berries, apples and bananas, but adding in more mango, pineapple (DELICIOUS in yogurt), melon, etc. has quickly become my sweetness of choice.
- Explore add-ons! Adding an egg and toast to my breakfast bowl of yogurt has helped to seriously balanced out my blood sugar levels. I also add lots of cinnamon to my coffee and yogurt, and I LOVE it
- Go cold turkey, instead of just “adding less”! I’ve tried the whole ‘reduce stevia in your coffee little by little each day’ – and for me personally, it didn’t work. Because I eventually worked my way up to more without even noticing. Also, when I didn’t have my “healthier” alternatives on hand (Stevia, monk fuit, etc.), I would reach for the little yellow, pink and blue packets at the coffee shop … y’all know what I’m talking about – ugh. Again, everything in moderation – but I really didn’t enjoy this reliance.
SO AM I DONE FOR GOOD? Not sure yet, time will tell – but I’m really going to try for it. I love the way I’ve been feeling now, and will definitely give a one month update! Anyone else have experience with cutting out Stevia and other sweeteners?