Sugar Free Lies
I can fool my tongue some of the time.
So here I am nearing the end of a lifelong addiction to sugar and it's impostors. To say that I was raised with unfettered access to sugar sweetened everything would be an understatement. A snapshot of the tip of the iceberg of sugar crystals that crashed into my development included; a kitchen table sugar dispenser that was refilled daily, toll house cookie dough that often never made it into the oven,. Captain Crunch, Frosted Flakes, chips, cookies, cakes and carbs of all sorts eaten as snacks between meals without limit. I also had an aunt that owned a candy distribution company that refused me nothing. As a child I thought that chocolate was a food group, and the holy grail was the yearly school trip to the fully functional Hershey chocolate factory. The smell of the Nabisco companies huge towers emitting the aroma of nilla wafer could not compare, nor could the nearby Whitman chocolate factory. For me the city of brotherly love was all about the chocolate, and as much as I loved the salt water taffy and fudge from Atlantic City, kiss me with that chocolate one more time!
By the time I reached my early twenties it was already too late, my body had adapted to a life on sugar, even after reading "Sugar Blues" and kicking refined sugar, I would consume every known natural healthy sweetener; from honey to rice syrup, vegetable glycerin, low glycemic; agave, yacon, coconut sugar, sucanat sweetened "healthy" oatmeal and on it went. Then came the non-sugar sweeteners; from the Equal nutra-death aspartame, neotame and its analogues and the fake sugar called sucralose to the "natural" sugar alcohols like erythritol and zylitol and all natural "non-sugar" sweeteners like monk fruit extract, and my personal "healthy" favorite: Stevia.
About 20 years ago I managed to find a brand of stevia that was pure white powder, I thought that I had discovered another planet, it was called Emperor's Apprentice Stevioside that had transformed the dirt flavored green stevia powder into something that was pure white and amazingly sweet! I spent the next twenty years using Steviosides to support my habit while deluding myself into believing that using this white powder was a healthy choice.
Even with the sweet tooth seemingly appeased by refined stevia, " healthy" carbs continued to be like a monkey on my back, so I decided to go full Keto eliminating nearly all carbs. The first few months I experienced a calm balanced sense of content without any noticeable craving for carbs and wouldn't you know it I began to get creative leaning heavier than ever on daily consumption of multiple portions of refined stevia sweetened hot coconut milk with extra Ghee and my homemade refined stevia sweetened coconut chia pudding and coconut gelatin. I'm not sure how soon it started but soon after ingesting my stevia sweetened treats a sensation of an extreme drug like tired would overtake me forcing me to lay down and close my eyes and sleep. As soon as I'd awake the hungry for something sweet would overtake me! It was the same syndrome that I had experienced throughout the years when eating refined sugar and endless variety of other carbohydrates. It felt like an insulin response that was attempting level off an over consumption of sugar.
Why was I experiencing what felt like a huge drop in blood sugar after eating my near zero-carbohydrate stevia sweetened coconut milk pudding?
Kate Skinner a certified Clinical Nutritionist breaks it down like this: "Stevia is “sweet” on the palate, so the body assumes it is receiving sugar and primes itself to do so. Glucose is cleared from the bloodstream and blood sugars drop, but no real sugar/glucose is provided to the body to compensate. When this happens, adrenaline and cortisol surge to mobilize sugar from other sources (liver and muscle glycogen, or protein, or body tissue) to bring blood glucose back up."
So I can't even have Stevia?!
It's not just about stevia, studies now confirm that even artificial sweeteners cause us to crave more sweet foods which can add up to excess calories"...and weight gain, and yes I've gained a little belly fat during this over taxing of my adrenal glands and under-nourishing of my body because I was eating more of these sweet foods in a futile attempt to freely eat sweets.
My Tongue Was Loving It
And it appears that my body was producing insulin based on the sweet taste on my tongue in anticipation of receiving the sugar needed to convert into glucose. A release of insulin among other actions caused existing blood sugar to become dangerously low, which may be why i felt so tired and craved sweets upon coming out of a near comatose state of sleepiness. Ugh!
There is still the possibility that I'm simply like others folks that get tired after eating due to metabolic process which is constantly creating, releasing and regulating stuff like serotonin, orexins, tryptophan , melatonin and more, its a pretty complex system and its never just one thing. However
I recalled studies of dieters who were drinking artificially sweetened sodas that were gaining weight because they always felt hungry and it wasn't until recently that I became aware of more conclusive studies that revealed that "Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements". This essentially lined up with the adrenal priming which appears to be triggered when fake sweet hits the tongue and creates a cycle of craving.
I'm off all added sweeteners and have given up on the Keto plan and have struck a balance in the land of low-carb which includes consuming sweet potatoes and feeling better, not experiencing much of any drop in energy after eating. I bake the sweet potatoes, mash them with coconut cream and or ghee.
A while back I was producing and selling a product "Like Macaroons" which is made from another combination of sweet potatoes and coconut...and may begin again. For now I'm content and relieved to be off the added sweetener roller coaster. I didn't mention fruit because last year I could easily snack half a pound of dried mango in a day, so it will be more that a few years (or possibly never) before fruit and I will be on speaking terms again.
Since eating without any sweetener I've noticed how sweet certain whole foods taste, like onions in a salad or sweet potatoes with ghee. I decided to try an old favorite "Smart Flour" brand gluten free frozen pizza. I'd never noticed that it had 4 grams of sugar per quarter slice and thought since its got cheese and some sausage this shouldn't be an issue, I was wrong. It tasted sickeningly sweet. I ended up eating the cheese and some sausage but even that had been sweetened by the sauce. I tossed the remains in the trash.
It's been about 5 months since beginning the journey of living without added sweeteners .