No Artificial Sweeteners for Me

For the next two weeks, I am making a change to my diet.  Lately I’ve felt a dependency on diet sodas, and artificially sweetened treats. I am challenging myself to cut out all artificial sweeteners in my diet for two weeks. Artificial sweeteners include saccharin (Sweet n’ now), aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet) and sucralose (Splenda). The diet sodas I drink contain aspartame. All of the sugar free snacks  I make contain Splenda, and my favorite store bought sugar free treats contain Splenda or saccharin. My diet will consist of vegetables, meat/fish, and a little cheese. To drink I will have water, club soda, caffeine free hot tea, or caffeine free black coffee.

I decided to make this change to my diet because many diets for controlling recurring yeast infections and urinary tract infections say to avoid artificial sweeteners. I figured there must be something to it, if several of the diets say it’s a no no. Although I have not had a full blown yeast infection in over a year, I still get that little twinge feeling down there the week after my period and have to increase my dose of Azo Yeast pills to prevent myself from getting a yeast infection. I’m hoping this change to my diet will fix the irritation at the end of my period.  Other than 1 week out of the month, I don’t have to increase my Azo Yeast dose. My hypothesis is during that specific week when I’m most prone to a yeast infection, the artificial sweeteners aggravate things down there. My urinary tract doesn’t seem to be bothered by the artificial sweeteners at all. Pure sugar and white carbs are the only things that spark a UTI for me.

I also made the decision to stop using artificial sweeteners for two weeks because I am curious to see how the rest of my body feels without the artificial sweeteners. Maybe I’ll have more energy, maybe I’ll be less grumpy, or maybe I’ll sleep better. I’ve read you can actually become addicted to artificial sweeteners, much like a person can become addicted to regular sugar. Artificial sweeteners make your brain confused because the enzymes in your mouth start to prepare your cells for an insulin surge when you taste something sweet. With artificial sweeteners, the insulin surge never arrives and your brain feels cheated. This temporarily distracts your brain, but before long you’ll be craving the sweet taste again.

I always tried to keep my artificially sweetened snacks to a minimum, but lately I’ve been eating more and more of them. My weakness last week was CarbSmart ice cream bars–chocolate shell with vanilla ice cream in the middle on a stick. They taste just like the regular ones and are oh so delicious. Six come in a box and I had eaten all six in the course of 24 hours. At first I say, “I’ll just have one”. I have one and feel satisfied but then ten minutes later I want another. The cycle seems to repeat itself. It could just be all in my head but after an artificial sweetener binge,  I feel something similar to a sugar rush. I feel a little light headed and energetic temporarily and usually later on I get a headache.

Today is my second day  of not having any artificial sweeteners. It is purely a sweet free diet since I don’t eat regular sugar anyway. Yesterday I did fine. Although I won’t say it was easy. After dinner I found myself wanting a Diet Root beer. I would have wanted one of those ice cream bars, if there had been any in the freezer.  I ate a piece of beef jerky instead of grabbing the Diet Root Beer that was tempting me every time I opened the fridge. Foods high in protein are said to help sweet cravings. I felt very sleepy at about 9:30pm, which is extremely unusual for me. Normally I got to bed around 1am. I felt good when I woke up this morning, which is expected after about 10 hours of sleep. I wasn’t hungry, so I waited until lunch to eat. Right now I’m really craving something sweet though. I just ate lunch–chicken wings and a salad and a few pieces of beef jerky. The jerky didn’t seem to kill my urge for something sweet this time but I’m still holding out. It would be sad to not even last two days. Tonight I’m going to the grocery store because I don’t have much food here. I’m thinking if I keep plenty of things to munch on, then I’ll forget all about the artificially sweetened stuff.

After my two weeks, I may give Stevia a try. It’s a sweetener that contains no sugar but isn’t artificial. The local grocery stores don’t carry it, so I’ll have to order it online. I haven’t gone the Stevia route before because artificially sweetened products are much more accessible. I’ve found some sugar free gum online with Stevia, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of pre-packaged products out there with stevia. Because of this, you have to do the cooking yourself. I will keep you posted on my two weeks without artificial sweetener results. Wish me luck!

#1 for Preventing UTI and Yeast Infections

I first considered going in detail about all the little remedies for preventing these chronic infections, but then I decided it might be best to start with the most important thing first–DIET. Doctors don’t emphasize this enough and sometimes not even at all. They may drop the hint that lowering your sugar intake might help, but most people don’t really know what that means. If you suffer from these recurring infections, it is not enough to just cut out the “sweets”, such as cookies, cakes, ice cream, etc. The average person consumes about 50 teaspoons of sugar a day. You might be thinking, “well I know that’s not me”. There is a pretty good chance you are consuming that much sugar because nearly everything has sugar in it these days. Even things like lunch meat and yogurt can often have added sugar.

Changing my diet was the best thing I ever did. I was definitely one of those people who consumed 50 teaspoons of sugar a day. I’m sure I exceeded that limit on many days. I was addicted to sugar and carbohydrates. I always had candy in my purse. Sometimes I would make a meal out of poptarts or sugary cereal. Sometimes I’d even make a meal out of a candy bar. When I did try to eat healthy, I followed a low calorie, low fat diet, which consequently was also high in carbs. I also LOVED watermelon. During the summer I would eat a whole watermelon every two days. I felt like that was healthy because watermelon doesn’t have a lot of calories, it was fruit, and it had lots of water in it.

Once I began doing my research for a diet that would help prevent UTIs and yeast infections, I found out quickly that I had being doing everything wrong as far as my diet was concerned. Sugar and carbs feed yeast, and sugar irritates the urinary tract. There are quite a few different diets I found online, but they all seemed to have one thing in common–relatively low in carbs and low in sugar. I chose the Atkins diet route because I wanted to lower my carbs and sugar intake as much as possible in order to starve the yeast and keep my urinary tract happy. Plus, Atkins has a book to follow, tons of recipes, and tons of forums and such for support. It is much easier to do a diet when you have so many resources.

I starting out doing what I thought was Atkins without buying the book. I just followed the basics rules I had read online. I cut out anything white and carby (bread, rice, chips, crackers, popcorn, anything with flour). I also cut out sugar in ANY form. No sweets, no fruit high in sugar. I also cut out caffeine. I later bought the book. The book even has a section on yeast infections and how the Atkins diet can help prevent them. I noticed a big difference within the first two weeks of following the diet. I had no yeast symptoms and my urinary tract felt healthy. I also felt more energized and overall just healthier. It has been almost a year since I went low carb/low sugar, and I haven’t had a single yeast infection or urinary tract infection. Click on the “Diet” section of the site for more details on the diet I follow.