At Chronically Healthy, we try not to tell people to avoid something completely. With artificial sweeteners, we are taking a stand.
We saw not one, but two, very long conversations on Instagram recently about artificial sweeteners. One was an account dedicated to Crohn's disease, and one was a Type One Diabetes account. We love both of the accounts these conversations started on, but we didn't love what we were reading. Both are predominant accounts in their communities. People listen to the account owners. They go to them for guidance and advice.
The Crohn's account posted an image of sugar-free candy, asking followers to comment their favorite pain day splurge. The comments section contained close to one hundred comments, almost all of which were about sugar-free indulgences. Diet soda, sugar alcohol, aspartame-filled snacks, etc. The Diabetes account was about the same. A beautiful, pink Starbucks drink. (no, not the dang unicorn drink!) The account owner asked her following, "What's your favorite carb free option at Starbucks?" Much like the Crohn's account, every comment included the words equal, Splenda, or sugar-free syrup.
When you live with a disease where you're often told to avoid sugar, it makes sense that people search for other options. These platforms that help others trudge through daily life with chronic illness are amazing and wonderful and oh-so necessary. We love the communities and the support, but spreading the artificial sugar info is honestly pretty scary.
On high-pain days, sometimes you just need a pile of candy the size of a small child. A splurge is ok occasionally, although keep in mind that on those high-pain or flare-up days, that's when you need nourishing foods the most. Did you know that sugar-free candy has a laxative effect on many? Next time you're stuck on the throne do a little mind evaluation. Are you thinking to yourself, "WOW, I could really use a laxative right now!" Probaaabllyyyy not...
For diabetics, both type one and type two, artificial sweeteners trick your body. You ingest a substance that does not have the same chemical properties as sugar, but is 180-20,000 times sweeter than sugar. Your body doesn't know how to process these foreign invaders. It's like "wait, is this sugar or not?". "In the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, daily consumption of diet drinks was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes." (2)
Trying to reduce sugar cravings? Fake sugar will undoubtedly hinder your progress. "A minuscule amount produces a sweet taste comparable to that of sugar, without comparable calories. Overstimulation of sugar receptors from frequent use of these hyper-intense sweeteners may limit tolerance for more complex tastes." Dr. Ludwig, Harvard Children's Hospital. (1) In laymen's terms- you'll stop liking the taste of fruit, few substances will be sweet enough to dull your craving, and you'll end up craving more sugar.
So you really, really, really need something sweet but you know sugar isn't the best for you. What do you do?
Craving a soda or juice? Try an infused water! Fill a glass with fruit, veggies, and herbs to liven it up a bit, and even get some extra nutrients. Cucumber, citrus, and mint is a delicious combination.
Occasionally, consume the real stuff! There are plenty of delicious alternatives to conventional sweets. They are made with wholesome ingredients, and while yes, they contain real sugar, they are much better for the occasional splurge than many other food items. Click the links below and receive 25% off and free shipping from Thrive Market! You can read more about why we love it so much here.
Mmmmm, TBHQ and PGPR, our favorites!
1. Artificial sweeteners: sugar-free, but at what cost? Holly Strawbridge - http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/artificial-sweeteners-sugar-free-but-at-what-cost-201207165030
2. Nettleton, J. A., Lutsey, P. L., Wang, Y., Lima, J. A., Michos, E. D., & Jacobs, D. R. (2009, April 01). Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Retrieved April 27, 2017, from http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/32/4/688
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