A Sweeter Life

No one will deny that refined white sugar is detrimental to our health. I could list all of the side effects of ingesting sugar (or mention how it has been proven to be as addictive as cocaine) but I trust that at the very least most people know that it is BAD, or according to the authors of “Skinny Bitch” sugar is “the devil”. (Barnouin, p. 27) Yikes.

Food companies knew that this knowledge would inevitably lead consumers to look for alternatives and that is why there are ample sugar alternatives on the market today. One widely used sugar subsitute is aspartame. This sweetner hides behind sweeter sounding brand names such as Equal and NutraSweet. NutraSweet implies “nutritional” but aspartame is far from nutritional in any sense of the word.

Do you remember the disgusting smell of the frogs you dissected in science class? That smell comes from the preservative formaldhyde that they soak the frogs in. When aspartame is broken down in the body some of it turns into formaldhyde. If that is not a good enough reason to avoid this type of sweetener here are some delightful side effects of ingesting aspartame: migraines, depression, insomnia, memory loss, and seizures. Aspartame is so unhealthy in fact that it was denied approval by the FDA EIGHT times before being approved for use in food. (Barnouin, p. 32) That is some scary stuff.

Many people choose foods that contain aspartame because these foods are typically lower in calories which fuels the myth that they will help a person lose weight. Multiple studies have shown the opposite to true. In fact, these studies saw that consumption of aspartame actually led to weight gain. Trust me, Splenda isn’t any better either. The bottom line here: do not resort to chemical sugar alternatives to be healthy or lose weight.

I will be the first to admit that a sugar-free life sounds rather pitiful. Thankfully all hope is not lost! Some better choices for sweetening food include: coconut sugar, pure maple syrup, fruit, and honey. After giving your taste buds some time to adjust to these new sweeteners you won’t even miss the old stuff.

Works Cited

Freedman, R., & Barnouin, K. (2005). Skinny bitch: A no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous! Philadelphia: Running Press.