If you follow us at all, you know we’re not fans of diet sweeteners (or sugar). We like to drink water and eat whole real food.
While diet sweeteners have been associated with weight gain, metabolic syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes, one of the most interesting facts to us is how they may “trick” the body.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “One concern about artificial sweeteners is that they affect the body’s ability to gauge how many calories are being consumed. Some studies show that sugar and artificial sweeteners affect the brain in different ways. The human brain responds to sweetness with signals to eat more. By providing a sweet taste without any calories, however, artificial sweeteners cause us to crave more sweet foods and drinks, which can add up to excess calories.”
If you’d like to ditch diet sweeteners too, here are 5 tips to avoid diet sweeteners.
1. Read the ingredients
It’s usually not crystal clear if diet sweeteners are used in a product unless, of course, the word “diet” is used in the product name. That being said, if you have an inkling that diet sweeteners may be in something, read the label.
Common sweeteners to look for are saccharin (Sweet N’ Low), aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda), Rebiana (Stevia), and acesulfame K or acesulfame potassium.
2. Do your research
Even the best of the best nutrition experts can oversee a diet sweetener in an ingredient list because it can be “disguised” as a different name. For example, one yogurt had “organic rebiana” in the ingredients. Without a second thought (or knowing what rebiana is) you’d never know it’s a diet sweetener! So take a minute and do your research if you need to. Google comes in handy here! By the way … rebiana (as mentioned above) is stevia.
3. Don’t be fooled by marketing
Often times, you’ll see “low-fat” or non-fat” or “zero sugar” in a label. If a packaged product is “low-fat” or “non-fat,” it usually means it’s got more sugar or sodium to make up for the fat and make the product taste awesome. Likewise, if a packaged product is marketed as “zero sugar” (and especially if it usually has sugar in it), make sure to read the ingredients and do your research. Usually, there’s diet sweeteners in there!
4. Trust your tastebuds
Let’s face it, no one is perfect. Days get busy, times get stressed, kids are screaming in the shopping cart, and we don’t always have time to analyze a nutrition label or ingredient list. Sometimes we buy things without even realizing there’s diet sweeteners in there … and then they taste a “bit different.” A slight bitter after taste that lingers. If you find this happens to you, no big deal. Just check the ingredients, see what’s in the product, and if you find it’s a diet sweetener, then you’ll be more informed for next time! Use this as a learning opportunity to become a more savvy, informed consumer.
5. Listen to Mother Nature
Nothing new here, but it still rings true. Choose foods that are mostly in their whole form without a lot of “stuff” added. Think fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, whole grains, beans/lentils, plain dairy, etc. When you stick to foods in their most whole form, you’re eating how Mother Nature intended and when you do that, you just don’t have to worry about things that shouldn’t be in your food being added.