I live, by all intents and purposes, an extremely healthy lifestyle. I exercise daily, I eat only nutritionally-dense, vitamin-rich foods and refrain from junk at all costs. But most of all, I have no vices whatsoever. Swearsies. I have always refrained from drinking, smoking, doing drugs, eating meat, having dairy, and drinking coffee. Ask anyone.
That is, until last year, when that final vice – the delicious caffeinated brown beverages of the Colombian variety – finally popped my vice-cherry (so to speak). So naturally, I sweetened the coffee with the artificial varieties available at the cafés.
And now I’m addicted.
And what’s worse, I know this stuff is killing me.
I had never drank an entire cup of coffee in my life until this past winter when I needed an extra energy boost in the midst of writing the masterpiece that is my novel (cough). But coffee, we can all admit, is an acquired taste, and I found it to be just too bitter for my palate.
First I just used honey, but then someone scared me with an article that claimed the glucose in honey was worse than refined white sugar. So I switched to agave, but then there was some concern that agave might be worse for your system than high-fructose corn syrup! So I switched to stevia, an all-natural sweetener with zero calories that doesn’t spike your blood-glucose level like sugar does. But I began to loathe the manufactured taste of the particular kind of stevia which was the only kind available in my area. So, low on options, I switched to Splenda. And Sweet n’ Low. And Equal.
Whether you believe the negative hype surrounding artificial sweeteners or not, nearly every health expert and layman can agree that all things should be consumed in moderation. (Even fruit and veg, when over-consumed, can be toxic.) So considering my healthy mantras on everything else, I should be smart enough to consume Splenda in moderation to avoid toxicity, right?
You would think.
Every morning I hit up my local Tim Horton’s for an extra large coffee, and grab a handful of Splenda packets. The employees behind the counter always give me weird looks when I take more than two packets. In fact, they’ve recently enacted a policy of hiding Splenda packets so people don’t take too many. Customers have to explicitly request their artificial sweeteners, and even then, they only hand you two packets.
If only two packets would suffice. My extra large Timmy Ho’s usually requires about six Splenda packets to be sufficiently sweet-for-my-tooth.
And that’s not the only coffee of the day. While in the office, banging out incredibly well-written, timely, and funny articles for you dear readers (oh, don’t give me that look), I go through several java-gasms in the livelong day — all of which are coupled with an average of six Splenda packets.
I could easily be consuming 18-20 Splenda packets in a given day. Moderation much? Pshaw. I am living in ToxiCity, and I like it.
Some risks of sucralose and other artificial sweeteners have been reported to be as follows:
- Sucralose is structurally similar to DDT and thus is fat-soluble, meaning that it’s stored in your body fat for years, and can cause deleterious effects over time.
- It’s absorbed and metabolized after ingestion, turning into compounds (that still haven’t been studied) and making its way into the liver and kidneys.
- Sucralose caused pelvic mineralization in rats.
- There aren’t any long-term studies to analyzing effects of human consumption; there’s no telling what years of 18-20 packets per day might do.
- Sucralose contains chlorine atoms — would you like another serving of bleach?
- Sucralose is a neurotoxin.
There are many differing (and conflicting) opinions on the effects of artificial sweeteners, so it’s hard to keep the data straight, but I do know one thing for sure: It’s making me behave like an addict.
Recently, I attended a big media event that took place in a pub. Attendance was great: People were snapping photos, winning door prizes, mingling, eating, and energetically buzzing around the room. On every table at the pub were those sugar containers that usually contain packets of white sugar, raw sugar, and, you guessed it, the little pink packets of my second love: Sweet n’ Low. In all the mass frenzy of the crowd, I was off satiating my sucralose addiction without anyone catching wise to my deviant behavior.
With an air of subterfuge and slight of hand, I paid a pleasing visit to every table whilst the gents and ladies’ attention was diverted elsewhere, grabbing fistfuls of the little pink packets and stuffing them into my purse. By the end of the night, I blew town with over 60 packets of my sweet, sweet, lover.
What have I become?
Not long ago, after buying an innocent cup of Vanilla Rooibos from Starbucks, I was raiding their Equal stash when a barista came up to me and said “You’re the type of customer we hate.” She caught me out, and confirmed my worst fears. I am a scourge on society. It’s official now. Nature abhors me AND I’m destroying my innards to boot! Can anybody save me?
Seriously, can you? I would love it if someone out there could sufficiently scare me out of consuming artificial sweeteners. Help a sistah out, Blisstree readers. Please send me links, videos, photos, studies, documents, and doctor referrals to snap me out of this horrible disease. Is there a local ASA (Artificial Sweeteners Anonymous) chapter I can attend?
Please help me before I officially have to change my name to Christine Splendima.