Nix those nasty diet drinks, lower your risk of disease!
Nearly everyone who’s tried to lose weight or simply to kick a sugar habit has switched from “regular” sweeteners (i.e. sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc) in soft drinks, iced teas, coffee drinks and other foods to artificial sweeteners. They’ve been convinced by the marketing of these products that they’re refreshing, safe and even healthier than real sugar. The reality however, is far from that!
If you go to most grocery stores you’ll find shelves of drinks and other products made with a variety of artificial sweeteners, which as a whole have been shown in numerous research studies to cause damaging effects to your health and increase your risk of weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, disruption in the healthy microbes in your gut, high blood pressure, liver damage, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s. The brain seems to be especially sensitive to these effects, showing a nearly 3X higher risk of these deadly conditions with consumption of only ONE soft drink per day sweetened with artificial sweetener!!
So, whether it’s Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), Sucralose (Splenda), Saccharin (Sweet ’N Low), sugar alcohols ending in -itol (xylitol, sorbitol, Maltitol, etc) or Acesulfame K (Sunett, Sweet One, ACE) or the corn derived HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), none of these bad boys are doing us any favors. They all manipulate our brain and body in some unfriendly way and most of them are MANY HUNDREDS of times sweeter than table sugar, therefore causing us to lose our innate ability to detect the sweetness in naturally sweet foods like fruits and even vegetables.
We’ve become hooked on the sweet taste and if you buy commercially prepared foods, you’ll find sugar hiding on labels with over 50 different names, even in items like mayonnaise, pasta sauce and salad dressing!
To start re-training your palate to be sensitive to the naturally sweet taste in real, healthy foods, you can start by reading labels, cutting down on the sugary and artificially sweetened supernormal stimuli of diet drinks and foods and replacing them with better alternatives as a bridge to start your personal sugar shakedown.
Some good natural sweeteners are stevia, raw honey, palm sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup and even chopping or pureeing some medjool dates into your recipes that might need some sweetness, like a green smoothie, muffins or your morning bowl of oatmeal
Eventually though, it’d be best to train your palate and brain to have more appreciation for the savory side of foods so that you find real, whole, unprocessed foods delicious, satisfying and health creating. Easy ways to replace those diet drinks is to get inspired by mixing sparkling water with fruits or veggies, make spa waters infused with lemons, lavender, cucumbers and other light flavors, experiment with different kinds of mocktails ~ there are loads of resources on Pinterest for these and other ideas.
One thing to keep in mind though, these aren’t going to taste like a Diet Coke or whatever your preferred artificially sweetened bevvie is. That’s ok, just know that and open your mind to allow it to be what it is, chances are you can enjoy it for just that, and feel happy you’re doing something good for yourself!
Cheers 🙂 Victoria