This is the third and final post in a series about Sugar Substitutes. The previous posts:
- Discussed The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ treatment of what turns out to be a confusing subject.
- Provided a comprehensive analysis of the varieties of Sugar Substitutes. That post was the Encylopaedia Brittanica of Sugar Substitutes if the Encylopaedia Brittanica included fart jokes.
In this post, I provide advice for the remaining people who want to include fake sugar in their diets because they’re not yet on board with my opinion that all the options taste like gym socks.
Sugar Substitutes Recap
Then, we met the interesting characters she encountered at the bottom of the hole.
Now we’ve come to the end of the story. Alice’s is on trial. The Queen of Hearts is shouting “Off with her head!” And just as Alice starts asserting herself by identifying those characters as the frauds they are, they hoist themselves upon her in an ill-fated attack. Ill-fated, because she suddenly awakens from her dream state and transitions from Wonderland to Realityland.
Sugar and Sugar Substitutes – Welcome to Realityland
In Realityland, you want to know “how can I satisfy my sweet tooth and still be healthy, be happy and, oh yeah, save the world?” My advice depends on the category in which you fit. Are you a person who:
Isn’t Worried About Eating Real Sugar Because You Don’t Believe The Hype And You’re Not Trying To Lose Weight?
Good for you! You are a Sensible Human Being.
Google something like the “evils of sugar” and you’ll become more frightened than Alice was when she started shrinking after sipping that drink that, according to Lewis Carroll’s description, “tasted of cherry-tart, custard, pineapple, roast turkey, and hot buttered toast” (or what we call “Dr. Pepper”).
But when you investigate the facts from reasonable sources, such as this totally amazing post from a highly intelligent and humble nutrition geek, you know that sugar in moderation and in the right packaging can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Go ahead, eat foods with real sugar.
- Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages, including fruit juice, because they are mostly empty calories that don’t provide long-term satisfaction.
- Get most of your sugar from whole fruit. Whole fruit has fiber, vitamins, and other magical nutrients that minimize the effects of the sugar and provide additional health benefits.
- Restrict foods with added sugar to the amounts recommended in The Dietary Guidelines for Americans. That restriction is about 25 grams or 5 teaspoons. This can get confusing so seriously read my aforementioned sugar post for some clarity.
- To maximize your body’s metabolism of sugar, consume it within two hours after vigorous exercise. This erudite (which I believe is word based on the Latin word for “smartass”) advice is discussed in depth in The Karma Sense Eating Plan’s discussion of Mantra #3, Eat Whole Food Carbohydrates After Vigorous Exercise. A chapter for which I recently received the following unsolicited feedback from someone who has nothing to gain by being nice to me:
Wow! If the rest of the book is as wonderful as this chapter, you really are blessed with a talent. I love the “history” you present.
Shucks. Obviously, he believes in the value of kindness to others. If you would like your own “Wow” moment while helping out Alice’s Kids at the same time, please consider purchasing a copy (or five) of The Karma Sense Eating Plan.
But I digress. Are you a person who:
Craves Sweets and Wants to Lose Weight But Doesn’t Want to Eat Sugar Substitutes Because They’re Gross?
Good for you! You are a sensible human being.
Sugar substitutes are gross. They taste like gym socks. They’re made in factories that may as well be making bug killers. Some sugar substitutes could double as bug killers.
Worst of all most substitutes tend to be sickly sweet. And when I say “sick” and “sweet,” I don’t mean it in a gnarly radical dude sort of way.
While sugar substitutes can satisfy a craving for sweets, they don’t really promote healthy eating. Your desire to improve your health by losing weight will probably run into road blocks if you become dependent on sugar-free versions of cookies, sodas and bacon-and-ranch-flavored-chocolate-covered-cheese-puffs (now made with extra ingredients!). The ultra sweet taste of sugar substitutes is what makes people continue to crave Twinkies and the chocolate fountain at Golden Corral.
- If you fit in this category, your sweet cravings should only be satisfied with fruit. This is not the end of the world. As you ween yourself off of fake sugar and start eating real whole fruit in a deliberate and intentional manner, you’ll never want to go back again. There is no flavor in the world that compares to a perfectly ripe peach, fresh strawberries or a Honeycrisp apple.
- For bonus “get healthy” points that you can turn in for cash and valuable prizes (I’m sure you can somewhere), eat that fruit within two hours after vigorous exercise just like in Advice bullet #5 above. Your body will metabolize the sugar better AND those luscious treats will taste even better as the juice quenches the thirst deep within your throat (I know, I can get passionate about really good food.)
If this category doesn’t fit you, are you a person who…
Wants to Lose Weight and Is Not Ready to Give Up Diet Soda(pop) Or Other Sweet Foods and Drinks Given All The Additional Lifestyle Changes Weight Loss Requires
Good for you! You are a sensible human being.
If you can’t tell, I personally don’t like sugar substitutes. They’re not worth it to me. Fortunately for you, among the many blessings your creator granted you, “being Davey H” isn’t one of them.
Furthermore, there is little evidence that supports the hysteria about sugar substitutes causing cancer or other chronic diseases. And the proof that they curtail weight loss while they increase appetite and cravings for sweet is mixed. If the “mixed” nature of that proof concerns you, remember that your appetite and cravings come from many factors.
The biggest factor and the one you have the most control of is your mindset. And so…
- If sugar substitutes fortify your resolve to resist higher calorie treats, then go forth and prosper.
- On the other hand, if they only make matters worse, consider weaning yourself off sweet stuff and transition to the “no sugar substitute” club as described in the category above.
- If you plan to be a long-term sugar substitute user, you should restrict your intake to a level that is comparable to what The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests for real sugar. To make this translation, I’ll defer to someone who I consider the Angela Merkel of Nutrition (in that she is talented, über-smart and smokin-hot), The Nutrition Diva. Her daily recommendation is:
- 3 packets of Splenda, Equal, Truvia, Stevia in the Raw, or Monkfruit in the Raw
- 6 teaspoons (2 tablespoons) Splenda granulated sweetener or Equal Spoonful
- 6 teaspoons (2 tablespoons) Stevia or Monk Fruit in the Raw Baker’s Bag
- 6 teaspoons (2 tablespoons) Lakanto or Laktano Golden
- 6 teaspoons (2 tablespoons) Erythritol
- 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) of Splenda Sugar Blend or Brown Sugar Blend
- 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) of Truvia Baking Blend or Brown Sugar Blend
- 2 1/2 teaspoons of Truvia Spoonable
- 12 ounces of diet soda, tea, or Crystal Lite
- I take the Diva’s (swoon) advice one step further by recommending that you stick to natural forms of sugar substitutes such as Monk Fruit and Stevia. Also, of the sugar alcohols, Erythritol seems to be the most harmless sugar alcohol as it relates to crappy taste and stomach upset (a different crap-related symptom). Note that Monk Fruit and Stevia are on my watchlist (a list no ingredient ever wants to be on. I’m still gunning for you Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate!). Big Food has problems keeping up with the demand. Rather than researching sustainable ways to address market requirements, they resort to cheaper techniques and that means going back to the lab where the bug killers are made. Furthermore, I learned on a documentary called Breaking Bad that Stevia makes an excellent vehicle for ricin, a deadly poison.
But once again, I digress. Are you a person who:
Has a Sugar Metabolism Disorder Such as Diabetes and Already Consulted Your Doctor?
Good for you! You are a sensible person.
Even if you’re on the road to diabetes but haven’t yet reached that dreaded finish line, there is some evidence that sugar substitutes cause an eventual spike in blood sugar from eating other foods.
Do what your doctor said! If your doctor doesn’t spend enough time with you to help you through this discussion, get a new doctor.
Conversely, if you a person who…
Has a Sugar Metabolism Disorder Such as Diabetes and Hasn’t Consulted Your Doctor?
Please, make an appointment with your doctor now. That is my only advice.
Finally, are you a person who…
Doesn’t Fit Into Any of These Categories?
Good for you! You’re Unique.
If you still have a question about sugar substitutes, contact me directly or via the form below.
Regardless, continue past the form once you’re done with it for the exciting conclusion.
The Exciting Conclusion
You can eat real sugar and still live a long healthy life. You can eat fake sugar and still have a long healthy life. The more you avoid each, the longer and healthier your life will be.
And What Of Alice?
Secure in her newfound knowledge about sugar and its substitutes, she checks out her figure in her looking glass. And that is a story for another time.
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Meanwhile, if you’d like to save the world by helping disadvantaged school-age youths fully participate in their childhood, consider supporting Alice’s Kids. You can donate directly here or you can contribute AND learn to be healthier and happier by getting your copy of The Karma Sense Eating Plan.