Aspartame,...What a Shame!

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I should preface this article with the fact that I am referring to all artificial sweeteners and am not targeting any single manufacturer of artificial sweeteners. For the majority of my life I have used alternative sweeteners. When your grandparents are diabetic and your family fears the disease themselves, sugar becomes the arch enemy! Even as a child, it was rare for me to have a sugar-sweetened drink. What followed was many years of alternative sweetener consumption. I was sold on it to the point that I never needed sugar. Coffee and tea would be sweetened with two packets per drink. That is when I would drink three or more cups a day.

Thanks to Americans wanting to eat and drink whatever they want without consuming calories, the market has since flooded with alternative, no and low calorie sweeteners. Never mind the content of these sweeteners. If they have no calories, they must have nothing in them that could harm us. Right? As other sugar alternatives have entered the market, I have switched back and forth between all of the options from time to time.

As any sugar-fearing person who doesn't want to lose their legs, as my grandfather did, to diabetes, artificial sweeteners were a big part of my daily life. After over 20 years of frequent, daily consumption, I began to contemplate them more when I had kids. I started asking myself if I would want my kids to eat what I am eating. As I examined the market, I found alternative sweeteners were no longer just in packets and diet sodas. They started taking over snacks, ice cream, creamers, juice, drink mixes, pre-made drinks and countless other food products.

With the warnings, controversies and concerns about laboratory-produced chemicals, I had already questioned how I could keep putting these things in my body. Fear of diabetes was one, fear of not having a good alternative to the alternatives was the other. To be real honest, I couldn't imagine having my daily coffee without some packet of sugar- free something. Then, after a year of suffering from tingling and numbness in my head, I began questioning if it could be related to the sweetener use. I became concerned that I might die from some brain problem, so as I waited for my impending death, the fear motivated me to stop using artificial sweeteners temporarily. Within a short amount of time, the complications went away. Shortly after that, I cleared my pantry of all artificial sweetener products for good.

I have since found that there are other options out there. I primarily use sugar, honey, agave nectar or simply nothing. Most importantly, I have found that sugar isn't the enemy, but as with all things, it must be in moderation. As I sit here drinking my non-diet soda, I know it has a lot of sugar, but I also know it will probably be the only soda I will have all month,….and how sweet it is!

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