Thursday, February 26, 2009

No “Fake” Sugar For Me

Maybe it’s just me, but I am not a big fan of all the artificial sweeteners that are out there. There are newer sweeteners available, two of the more recent are Splenda, which is the artificial sweetener sucralose, and Truvia, billed as “Nature’s Perfect Sweetness,” which is derived from the leaves of the stevia plant. Both are bill as zero calorie sweeteners.

Call me a skeptic, but zero-calories doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good for you. I am understanding of people who are unable to eat regular sugar because of diabetes or other medical issues, and alternatives such as these make it easier to enjoy sweet treats. But, after getting either severe headaches or digestive distress in the rare cases I have a piece of sugar free candy or gum, I have decided that I would rather have plain old sugar, and just limit my quantity.

What I find alarming is the number of parents who are giving their children these sugar free drinks and foods, under the impression that if it has no calories and no sugar in it, it is not harmful. Why is it then that almost every child that I have been around whose parents have them eating the sugar free foods always seem so wired? I swear some of these kids are so hyper that they could walk upside down on the ceiling if I asked them to. And parents are stymied – “Why are my kids so uncontrollable?” they ask. I’ll tell you why – it’s the fake sugar you’re giving them. I wonder if their young bodies can really handle it.

When I was a kid in the 1950s and 1960s, sweet drinks were viewed as being an occasional treat. In the 1960s, when drink mixes like Kool-Aid were cheap drinks for kids, we had them more often in the summer, making a pitcher with the requisite full cup of real sugar included. It gave us energy, sure, but we weren’t so crazed to the point that we were unmanageable. When I see a parent now with a kid that seems like he/she can’t sit still, or they are having problems in school, or are seemingly hyperactive – and the parents are at their wits end – I always ask them what they are giving their kids to drink. It’s always that sugar free, zero calorie stuff. I find myself wondering if there is some sort of connection here. Worse yet, even though parents are giving their kids more zero calorie drinks, the childhood obesity problem is becoming near epidemic (not to mention adult obesity).

My opinion is if something sounds too good to be true, it usually IS too good to be true. This may be the case with these zero calorie sweeteners. We really don’t know long term what affects these products have on the human body. If the explosion of obesity in the last 10 years is any indication, I’d say that these sweeteners are doing more harm than good. For me, I’ve made the choice to use only sugar as my sweetener of choice, with real maple syrup or honey used on occasion, and just limit my intake. I’ve see no ill effects from it, unlike my “zero calorie” acquaintances. For me, there is no substitute for real sugar.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who is into all these natural foods and what not (she evens goes as far as to buy unpasteurized milk because regular milk has hormones). She made me some tea the other day and gave me Truvia because of course she doesn't have regular sugar in the house. That Truvia is plain old nasty. Ruined my tea!!

I agree with you about the soft drinks being treats. My guys at home know that if we got some soda in the pantry, must be a party or get-together soon. Same with sweets. People just want those quick fixes.

Ummm now I want me some Hawaian Punch!!!