Skip to content

Cutting Back on Artificial Sweeteners.

My sweet tooth is completely jacked up.

Bypassing the dessert table isn’t a tough choice.  I can skip the brownies and pie since the Great Palette Change of 2010 (when I was pregnant and my body decided that chocolate was gross and seafood was suddenly on the approved list) and now that I’ve been off the gluten stuff since August of last year, avoiding sweet treats has been a no-brainer (because if I have gluten, my body becomes a vessel of extreme bloat – no effing thank you).

But oh holy cow do I love coffee, and the amount of sweetener I would add to a cup of coffee was abysmal.

I think my taste buds ended up a little warped as a result of drinking diet soda when I was a kid.  After my diabetes diagnosis in 1986, Equal replaced sugar in my house, and the sweet power of Equal is eleven billion times sweeter than regular sugar.  (Not entirely true – 160-220 times sweeter than sugar seems to be the information I found online.  Correct me if I’m wrong, please?)  Convincing my tongue that less sweet is sweet enough has taken some time.

Over the last few months, I’ve been actively cutting back the amount of artificial sweetener I’m cramming into my coffee cup.  At one point, I was using three Splenda in one iced coffee, and for me that felt like way too much.  So, week by week, I tried to use less.  The first few days it was two and a half packets, in an attempt to show my tastebuds that less is more.  After a few weeks, I had cut back to one packet.  (And one packet helped, because then I felt like I could let go of that matchy-matchy OCD thing.)

And now I’m using half of a packet, or sometimes none at all (depending on how nice the coffee/milk combo is).  My goal is to make “none” the new standard.

It took some time to adjust to the lack of sweet.  My body craved that cloyingly sweet taste bud burst, but weaning was the way to go for me because cutting out sweetener entirely and all at once would have been an exercise in futility.  I’m not there yet, but working to make this a “habit of less” because I’m ready to ditch sweetener as much as possible.

It’s hard, though.  Sometimes I just want to rub the contents of a packet of Truvia on my gums.  (Too much?)

Have you ever worked to ditch a habit?  How did you do it?  I think the process of weaning is BORING and if there are ways to trick my mouth into not caring about sweetener, I’d love a tip or two.


13 Comments Post a comment
  1. ria #

    try atomic fireballs
    a cure all for just about anything,………. of course, it also erodes the lining of skin in your mouth

    01/12/15; 11:56 am
  2. I also have a sweet tooth, but not in my coffee. Over the course of a couple of years I’ve switched to baking lower carb foods. For example, I use almond flour and stevia. I have no magic remedy for kicking a food habit but I have noticed that I can no longer tolerate really sweet food. In fact, I usually cut the “sugar” in my recipes by as much as 1/2 and I’m perfectly happy with the results. I think it’s just a matter of reprogramming our taste buds, which takes time. Time well spent! Kudos for kicking your habit so nicely.

    01/12/15; 12:14 pm
  3. Tim Steinert #

    I gave up on giving up stuff long ago because my few vices are harmless. Basie & Ellington. Bogart & Bacall. Rogers & Hammerstein. Lennon & McCartney. Diet and Exercise.

    01/12/15; 12:43 pm
  4. Depending on what it is, adding a little cinnamon, peppermint extract or pure vanilla (but not all 3 in the same thing!) makes it sweet without the artificial.

    Cinnamon worked wonders for my coffee as did steaming a little milk with natural vanilla.

    01/12/15; 12:52 pm
  5. Christine #

    I recently cut out all artificial sweeteners because I realized that it makes me mega bloated…except for Diet Coke. I just cannot give up that aspartame goodness, which I grew up on since I was diagnosed at age 6 with T1D. I did the same kind of action you did with the Splenda – went down to just one can a day (versus 2+ that I may have on a particularly stressful work day), then half a can, then one of those mini-cans (so adorable, too!), and now just half of a mini-can. Sometimes I skip the Diet Coke altogether and just have tea instead. Tea has pretty much become my #1 drink, because a lot of them either include natural sweeteners or spices to make them sweet (like cinnamon).

    While I love tea, though, it does not compare to Diet Coke 🙂 I originally tried cutting back cold turkey, but man was that an epic fail. As much as weaning sucks, I think I’m much more likely to stick to my no-artificial-sweeteners diet now that I’ve gradually gotten used to not having them every day.

    01/12/15; 1:15 pm
  6. So, out of curiosity, are you entertaining the idea of using real sugar in your coffee? I know plenty of PWDs who would rather bolus for the couple of grams of carbohydrate (it’s really not much) rather than ingest those chemicals.

    Not too long ago, I tried putting sugar in my coffee (not for the above reason, but because I saw the lunacy of chomping three glucose tabs along with my artificially-sweetened beverage), and it wasn’t bad. It really doesn’t take much, and the subtle, natural sweetness from half a Domino packet was actually better-tasting than the 8-billion-times-more-powerful artificial sweetness from a Splenda packet.

    01/12/15; 2:04 pm
  7. Sara #

    After growing up on artificial sweeteners (type 1 since age 11) I started avoiding them about 5 years ago except for the occasional piece of gum. Since cutting them out I’ve noticed that I seem to become more resistant to insulin / less tolerant of carbs when I drink diet soda or use low-calorie sweeteners for a day or two (even stevia)… curious to hear if you experience the same thing.
    I just use real sugar (the organic, unrefined stuff) in my coffee and bolus for it; it tastes so much better than the fake stuff and really doesn’t do that much to my BG. If my blood sugar’s high, jasmine green tea and flavored seltzer water are my go-to beverages. And in the summertime I love to head off plummeting blood sugars with a sugary iced coffee (I make my own vanilla syrup and have the 15 carb pour mastered). Hope it’s a good transition for you, it was for me!

    01/12/15; 3:52 pm
  8. Julia #

    I’ve been reading your blog for over a year; never posted. This article compelled me to respond. Rather than focus on the sweetener, I want to talk about the cup of joe! Coffee by itself is absolutely delicious. (mind you, assuming you brew good coffee) It’s an acquired taste and once you get the taste, adding any sweetener whatsoever will mess with the entire cup!! If you drink red wine, you’ll understand my analogy… you start with sweet wine, then go to light bodied, then medium bodied, but then a strong, bold glass of red Cabernet just hits the spot. And that becomes your favorite glass. So it is with good coffee. Focus on the bean rather than the sweetener!! Enjoy! (and thanks for your great blog) Take care!

    01/12/15; 8:03 pm
  9. Good for you for cutting back so much already! I grew up drinking diet sodas (diagnosed 38 years ago at age 12), and haven’t had artificial sweeteners now for about 10 years. So glad I cut back to nothing. I know some like stevia, as a natural sweetener without carbs, but I now can’t stand the taste of any of them. I like my coffee black, or sometimes as a latte.

    I found over time my taste just changed with the gradual elimination of the artificial sweeteners. Also, the more I learned about the negative effects of the chemicals helped push me to stop. I find fruit now to be plenty sweet, and have really good dark chocolate as my sweet treat now, and just bolus for it.

    Good luck and thanks so much for your blog!

    01/12/15; 8:18 pm
  10. Congratulations on cutting back on the sweetener. You might consider it boring, but I think the most successful way to reduce or eliminate a long standing habit is to slowly end/change the behavior. For many years I would relax after dinner clean-up by drinking a cup of (hot) coffee, glancing at the evening paper and smoking a cigarette. I knew that I wanted to stop smoking, but throwing away my cigarettes only made me crave them more.
    It took a lot of effort, including changing the location where I would relax with the paper, before I no longer connected those three activities and could get rid of the cigarettes.
    I still drink my cup of coffee, but now I’m looking at the monitor instead of holding the newspaper. Be patient with yourself, you’re making definite progress!

    01/12/15; 8:43 pm
  11. Heidi #

    As for coffee, I drink it black with no sweetener, I like the flavor of the coffee. I gave up the cream a few months back as I wanted to save those calories for something better at dinner time. As for iced coffee, for some reason I can’t get over the need for extra cream and extra Splenda. I take 4 splenda now, but I was taking 6 in an extra large iced coffee, i’m gradually cutting down, I’ll try 3 this week. I only have iced coffee about once or twice a month, so not too bad.
    Giving up the cream in my hot coffee wasn’t too hard, I tried going from cream to whole milk to skim milk. Skim milk in coffee is just plain disgusting I’ve discovered. I’d much prefer to go all black. I do treat myself when I am out somewhere to having cream in my coffee though.
    Enjoy it however you like it.

    01/13/15; 2:03 am
  12. June S. #

    Good for you! I don’t think artificial sweeteners can be good for us, no matter what their manufacturers say. I have been putting Stevia in my oatmeal. Fortunately, I have never put any sweetener in coffee or tea (with the only exceptions to this being cappuccino and Masala tea at Indian restaurants.) I am going to look into the sweetener SWERVE, which I have read about (for baking.)

    01/13/15; 11:00 am
  13. Off topic for sweeteners but fits with the gf diet. Pizza Hut is going to offer “certified” gf pizza. Big news today. It sounds like it might not be in all of their locations though. Last January we went gf for the month. I called Domino’s for their gf pizza and it was sold out every time I called (probably only 3 times) so I’ve had gf pizza from pre-made crusts.

    01/13/15; 5:39 pm

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers