In fact, this argument applies also to Splenda (sucralose), Equal (aspartame), Sweet & Low (saccharin) and any other chemical/non-caloric sweetners you might find out there. If you want my general take on sugar and sweeteners, check out my post “The Dish on Sugar & Sweeteners,” but this rant is dedicated to Truvia.
Okay, this part is legit. Sugar WILL make your butt fat. Eating sugar will also make you crave more sugar and the idea of self-control against it is, well, unnatural. Seriously. We are WIRED UP, pre-programmed and destined to want to eat sweet things with wild abandon when we find them. How can this be? Well, for thousands of years, we didn’t have access to the amount of sugary, sweet, processed foods that we do now. We had fruit and maybe some honey if we could find it to eat after battling some bees in the way. And, in the event we found these foods in the wild, we would eat them to satiety and likely hoard more for later. The times of the year when these dense sources of sugar/carbohydrates would have been available was likely a warm season that preceded a cold season. Translation: our bodies naturally want to fatten up before we might need to use the body fat to help keep us warm and provide self-fueling in the less abundant cold months. It seems only natural, right? In a modern world of sugar and dense-carbohydrate abundance, self-control is nearly impossible. This natural inclination to eat sweet things and get fatter in the summer to prepare for the more vegetation-barron winter is pretty contrary to what most of us try to do in the modern world come bathing suit season, isn’t it?!
According to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology:
“… it seems likely that relatively few psychological processes are as expensive as self-control in terms of requiring large amounts of glucose. There are two reasons for thinking that self-control is unusual, even if not unique. First, what it accomplishes is rather advanced and difficult. We assume that the psychological system evolved to want and do things. To interrupt and override these well-established responses, especially after they are already in process, seems quite difficult. In plain terms, an animal may have evolved to feel and act on strong desires, such as for food or sex, and so self-control requires an inner mechanism strong enough to counter those powerful responses. Second, the widespread occurrence of self-control failures is evidence that self-control is not easy, and high metabolic cost would be one likely explanation for this.”
The study I’m referencing above also explains how difficult it can be to maintain willpower in the absence of adequate blood sugar levels. You might think that this is contrary to my point, but it’s not. The more sugar/glucose/carbs you eat, if your insulin sensitivity is in check and works properly, the more reactive your blood sugar becomes and the risk of then experiencing a hypoglycemic state, or LOW blood sugar, is then increased. Do you see how our natural physiology sets you up for failure in your efforts to avoid consuming sweets when presented with them in abundance?
So, this part of the jingle bears some truth and if you’re interested in getting healthy, losing weight and keeping it off, cutting SUGAR/sweeteners/dense & refined carbohydrate sources from your diet is probably the top tip I’d give you. Interestingly enough, sugar is THE thing I struggled with for many, many years. As a result of my struggle, I have written a 21-Day Sugar Detox Program, (a whole-food based, gentle detox) to help those of you who suffer from sugar and carb cravings to help you push the reset button and break free.
|When you open this|
package of stevia,
the powder is green.
As it should be.
“I found a new love, a natural true love that comes from a little green leaf.”
Ahem, have any of you SEEN Truvia? It’s a white, crystal powder. Have any of you SEEN a Stevia plant? It is, in fact, a green plant. Do you sprinkle your food with white, powdered crystals of basil? Hmm… I didn’t think so. This white powdered substance does not resemble anything natural that would have come from a green leaf. In fact, you CAN buy powdered green stevia and that, my friends, is natural. You can make that in your house by growing a plant, picking the leaves, drying them and grinding them up. How do you think that Cargill makes white Truvia crystals from a green plant? Do you think you could do that in your own kitchen? I didn’t think so. Additionally, it’s ingredients are: “Erythritol, Rebiana, Natural Flavors.” According to The FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations Title 21:
“The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. natural flavors include the natural essence or extractives obtained from plants listed in 182.10, 182.20, 182.40, and 182.50 and part 184 of this chapter, and the substances listed in 172.510 of this chapter.”
“Zero calorie guilt free no artificiality, my skinny jeans zipped in relief.
It’s name is truvia I had no idea no more sprinkling my coffee with grief.
Truvia: Honestly Sweet.”
First of all, aritficiality isn’t a word. Maybe if they want to claim it’s not “artificial” that would be a flat-out lie, so they made up a word to avoid that…? Advertising loophole? But, I digress. This idea that eating something sweet that is devoid of calories will keep you skinny (and let’s not even get into the fact that being skinny isn’t healthy) has been shown anecdotally as well as in research to be false. Since sweet things in nature, of which we human animals are a part whether we like it or not, will carry caloric load and require a metabolic processes to digest and assimilate, our physiological response to a sweet taste is to initiate a hormonal response as if we are eating a sweet food that DOES contain calories. When, in nature, would you EVER find something sweet that is devoid of calories? You wouldn’t. Duh! And why would you WANT to? Sweet food indicates calories which indicates an energy source. Don’t forget, we are animals who have instincts. Why are we always trying to fight nature by creating “healthier” products to consume? It baffles my mind. I used to eat these things too. That said, if you consume calorie-free sweet foods thinking you’re doing yourself a favor, well, you’re wrong. According to a 2008 Behavioral Neuroscience report, “… consumption of products containing artificial sweeteners may lead to increased body weight and obesity by interfering with fundamental homeostatic, physiological processes.”
At the end of the day, whether or not we are going to gain weight from eating certain foods and not others comes down to an issue of hormonal regulation, not simply calories-in-calories-out. The foods we eat affect our hormones whether we like it or not. The status of our hormones (think insulin, glucagon, leptin and grehlin here), are going to be telling the real story when it comes to our ability to control our waistline. Presuming that eating a non-caloric, processed product born of food-marketing genius will allow us to trick our bodies is against what Mother Nature plans and downright foolish of us. All this is to say nothing of the fact that when our bodies attempt to process a non-food/chemical product that it’s our fat cells that get bigger by storing the toxins away from our blood where they’d cause harm to our bodies.
Nope, Cargill can’t outsmart Mother Nature (or you!) with a cute packet of white powder.
Enjoy & be well!
BS, Certified Nutrition Educator, C.H.E.K. Holistic Lifestyle Coach
San Francisco Nutritionist & Paleo Nutritionist serving the Bay Area and beyond via phone & Skype consultations.
“A Role For Sweet Taste: Calorie Predictive Relations in Energy Regulation by Rats.” (PDF) Behavioral Neuroscience. Volume 122, 2008.
“Self-Control Relies on Glucose as a Limited Energy Source: Willpower Is More Than a Metaphor.” (PDF) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Volume 92, No. 2, 325–336, 2007.