Artificial Sweeteners, Weight Loss, and Taste

12/22/2010 at 9:10 PM 1 comment

Using Equal, NutraSweet, Sweet’N Low, Splenda, etc. is one of the most common diet practices around. These sweeteners help people to curb their calories and can help in the weight loss process. Their effect on our health is not without controversy. (see pros and cons in medicinenet.com’s  “Artificial Sweeteners” article.) However, I wanted to talk about another reason for not using them.

 When we substitute an artificial sweetener for a natural sweetener, even though we’re cutting back on calories, we’re not changing our desire for sweet. So when we’re needing something to eat and there’s no low-calorie/artificial sweetener version, we’ll grab the full calorie, full sugar version. 

We can change what we desire by gradually changing the content and flavor of what we eat. Not only do you get used to it, you prefer it. And it’s not just for sweet. We can change our desire for fatty foods, salt, soda, etc. In example, I gave up fried food after college as part of a weight loss diet. To this day, I still have no desire for fried food and, if by chance I do eat something fried, I don’t feel particularly well afterward.

But, I’m also not saying go cold turkey. Just start by decreasing the amount of sugar (or artificial sweeteners) in the things you consume. Cut back in how much you have in your coffee/tea, how much you use in recipes, choose products that are lower in sugar. Bit by bit your taste and desire for sweet will change leaving you much more in control of your diet for the rest of your life.

FYI: The medicinenet.com article goes on to discuss how artificial sweeteners can actually make you gain weight. Possible reasons  that they may actually increases sugar cravings so that you actually consume more calories, and they may interfere with the normal process of a complex food reward  pathway causing an increased craving for sweets.

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