Since my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia I have become increasingly sensitive to a variety of different things. I really won’t go so far as to say I have allergies because that would imply some sort of drastic reaction to the substance. For example, I can no longer eat iceberg lettuce because it does not like me. I will spare you the details of how it does not “like” me, so you’ll have to take my word for it. I would call that a sensitivity rather than a true allergy. And in the same manner, I have this increased sensitivity to many foods and external products.
A few years ago after watching a documentary called, “Sweet Poison,” I gave up the artificial sweeteners aspartame, acesulfame potassium (or acesulfame K) and sucralose. Soon after those chemicals were purged from my body, I noticed a significant decrease in my pain level. It was enough to make the sacrifice worth it, and though I had no intention of resuming any consumption of these sweeteners, I vowed anew to keep them out of my diet permanently. Now, if I happen to have a product with any of these sweeteners in it, I can tell immediately. The artificial taste gives this stuff away, and I usually just spit it out and go about my day.
Recently, I have noticed these products, specifically sucralose, being hidden into more and more everyday products, even those that are not listed as being low sugar or low calorie. My first experience with this was Swiss Miss hot cocoa. After we bought our first Keurig coffee machine, we had a few samples of coffees and other hot drinks that came with it. One of these was a K Cup of Swiss Miss hot cocoa. I thought the idea was wonderful, as there was just enough hot water in one small cup to make a perfect, steamy cup of cocoa. But the first (and last) sip revealed that telltale taste of sucralose. I was puzzled because the cocoa was not marketed as low sugar or sugar free. This was their regular cocoa. The very next time I shopped, I checked the ingredient label on every variety of their regular cocoa, and sure enough every one of them, except for their natural variety, has sucralose in the list. Luckily, I found a brand that does not use any artificial sweeteners in their mix, and I buy it exclusively now.
Because of this revelation I have to check every single item I purchase before I buy it. Sucralose does not have a warning on the label like its predecessor, aspartame, has under the ingredients. It is not as simple to tell without reading the entire label if the item contains sucralose. And it appears in things you would never suspect. Mouthwash, toothpaste, regular chewing gum, some presweetened drinks (like PepsiCo’s Lipton Brisk bottled teas,) canned fruit, even if it is not labeled sugar free or low sugar, juice drinks, cereals, flavored oatmeal, the list is endless. It is very difficult for me to find mint candies or chewing gum that is safe. It is frustrating and unnecessary that these, “crap sugars,” as I call them, are in a huge percentage of commercially prepared and sold products.
The latest discovery was really maddening, however. One of my favorite soda pop flavors is Mountain Dew’s Game Fuel*, cherry citrus flavor. It has a limited production and availability, usually coinciding with the release of a highly anticipated video game. And I found a bottle in my grocery’s cooler while shopping yesterday and I picked up a bottle, excited about finding it again. My first sip was an immediate mixture of pleasure and disgust, because I tasted the sucralose in the first mouthful. Why, oh why do these companies feel the need to put this stuff in every freaking product they make??? Either they don’t realize that people in the general population are trying to cut this artificial crud out of our bodies for a whole host of reasons, or they are yielding to the public outcry against high fructose corn syrup. If they want to use that stuff in their products, fine and dandy, but they should be required to disclose the use of sucralose and acesulfame K on the front of their packaging. I am so tired of being unpleasantly surprised, especially when it appears in a product I would have never guessed.
I am surprised that so many things have these artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes in a society where people are steering away from processed food and more toward organic, whole food items. These chemicals are not safe, but somehow the demonization of artificial sweeteners was localized to aspartame. Somehow, sucralose and acesulfame K were spared the scrutiny and appear in even more items than did their predecessor. But I don’t believe that either of those two are any safer than aspartame and someday will be proven so.
I will continue to keep these chemicals out of my body, because I tend to be sensitive to their effects. Consumed in large amounts, these sweeteners (at least for me) cause symptoms similar to those caused by MSG, including migraine headache and muscle aches.
Thank you, kind reader(s), for allowing my rant. Sometimes, these things need to be said only if for no other reason but to vent a frustration. I’ll be back soon with a more uplifting post!
*Disclaimer: These statements are based upon my personal experiences with these chemicals. There is no malice or libel intended on any specific company. I am simply stating factual information that is readily and publicly available on the labels of the products listed here. People who are sensitive to artificial sweeteners and fat substitutes (a whole different subject for discussion) have a right and a need to know that these substances are being used in common, everyday products.