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!