I hate Splenda

November 19, 2008

I hate Splenda.

I spent many years without real sugar, using substitutes or none at all. My first switch was in college, moving from regular to diet Coke. Aspartame was my savior for many years – diet jello, and all those myriad diet sodas I used to drink. The arrival of Splenda several years ago was a huge thing too, as no doubt about it, Splenda tasted better than Nutrasweet and I made the switch fast.

Little. Yellow. Different. Splenda. “It’s made from sugar so it tastes like sugar” their claim (although they are no longer allowed to say that). Remember when it was in really short supply? I contributed to that – I’d stock up when I saw it. I would take packets from my work cafeteria to keep in my purse to use for coffee wherever I was, because Splenda was rare and expensive and very hard to find. When I moved to France I brought several gallon-size ziplock bags full of Splenda packets with me, as at the time I was going through 4-5 packets a day in coffee and oatmeal and sometimes even in yogurt, and Splenda wasn’t yet approved in France and I didn’t know how I’d manage.

Then when I stopped the vigorous dieting I stopped Splenda. I’d already been moving towards organic and whole foods, and Splenda just didn’t fit in.

I kept up many of my good habits including cooking from scratch, but when I used something I used the real stuff – real butter, real sugar, real eggs (I was also a big consumer of egg whites in cartons when I lived in the US).

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to my diet these past few days. Mainly eating tons of fruit and vegetables, with little fat and sugar. The other day I made a big pot of oatmeal but put nothing in it, but it is really impossible to eat it totally plain. Yesterday I tried it with jelly (something I recently saw in my travels in the UK) but I’m not a huge fan of that mix. Today I thought I’d try another way to get around having sugar – I’d whip out my Splenda. So I put Splenda on my oatmeal.

Blech.

I doused it with cinnamon to try to cover the chemical fake taste but it still was horrible. I’ve brushed my teeth twice but the flavor is still lurking.

Tomorrow (my last serving of the oatmeal), I will allow myself real sugar or honey. And for the days after I will try a different recipe of oatmeal, hoping to find something I can eat without any sweetener at all.

Funny how your tastes change over time.  There was a time when I thought I could never move to fake sugar, then when fake sugar tasted just fine to me.  Now I’m back full circle, although my motivations are not just taste – there is also an overall health concern today that was not present at 20 years old.  I am a huge believer in scientific advances in our lives, but I think our food supply is over-chemicalized and over-processed.  Even “fresh” fruits and vegetables are usually treated to reduce pests and improve color and shelf life.  I am not a nut about these things, but I figure I have plenty of exposure to the altered elements in our food supply without pushing that even further.  And taste has also become more important to me.  I really think one of the long-term success factors for me to manage my weight here in Paris is going to be to via my taste buds, not in denying them in a strict diet.  I can diet for a period, but food here is art, and I can’t live in deprivation for life.  No, I need to use my taste buds to determine what is worth the calories and what is not, and find that point where I’ve had enough to be satisfied without it being more than my body needs.  These are long term goals, not my “gotta get the weight back under control right now” goals, but still, Splenda does not fit in.

So Splenda, goodbye.  I’ll stick with my approach of eating less sugar less often, and when I do indulge it will be the real stuff.

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