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Could artificial sweeteners be wrecking your diet?

Some of us sprinkle Splenda on basically everything in an attempt to make our yogurt/fruit/whatever taste better. After all, with zero cals and a comparable consistency to the real deal, it’s understandable why sweeteners are all the rage among dieters.

It’s a no-brainer that real sugar isn’t good for you. Aside from being stored as fat if not used immediately, too much sugar can spike glucose levels and cause excess insulin production, resulting in an energy crash that leaves you hungry and craving more.

Nevertheless, despite sugar’s bad rap, its competitor in a little yellow packet may not be your waistline’s friend, either. Think about it– ever notice how you get hungry like 20 minutes after glugging down a bottle of diet coke? Though your favorite diet drinks are calorie-free, they may be reacting in your body similarly to the way that sugar does. A recent study at the Washington University School of Medicine has shown some sweeteners have a similar spike and crash effects as real sugar, meaning you’ll probably reach in that bag of sugar free gummy bears more than once.

Similarly, you’ve probably heard that eating sugar makes you crave more sugar or that “sugar is addictive.” But if you thought that using zero calorie sweeteners was a loophole to the problem, think again. Artificial sweeteners are up to 700 times sweeter than sugar, meaning that dousing everything with the stuff could alter your perception of what’s “sweet enough” and leave you with an insatiable sweet tooth.  On an equally unpleasant note, sweeteners like Splenda have been linked to headaches and bloating. Yikes. 

A better solution to stop sugar cravings is to “train” your taste buds to enjoy foods without the mask of excess sweeteners (artificial or not). Never considered black coffee? You might actually appreciate its bold taste. Love oatmeal? Try natural oats with berries instead of the instant packaged kind. We live in a society that overwhelms us with sweetness so frequently that it’s easy to forget to appreciate food for its true, unadulterated taste.

That being said, I totally promote the occasional cupcake. However, thinking twice about adding sweetener to everything you consume could change the way you eat for the better.

Sophie is a senior studying creative and professional writing at CMU. She loves good restaurants, traveling, and anything French. When she's not writing, Sophie can be found doing yoga or catching up with friends over a good cup of joe. She loves producing content for HC and hopes to make feature writing into a career.  
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