You know artificial sweeteners is a hot topic when 3 professional nutrition related publications have crossed your desk in the past month. And it’s being talked about on NPR. And on my Nutrition Entrepreneurs List Serve.

It seems that Artificial Sweeteners or “Low or No Calorie Sweeteners” as we’ve been told to call them as dietitians to not “confuse” the public have taken over. Perhaps they felt left out with all the talk regarding good fat, bad fat recently. Or that the Artificial Sweetener Lobbyist saw this as a way to jump in on the negativity that sugar has received in the past few years.

I won’t bore you with the studies that say they are good or that they are bad, you’ll find plenty of both of them out there without looking too hard. However, you might just have to decipher who actually funded the research studies. Who knew the Calorie Control Council wasn’t your typical trade association but run by a global management and public relations firm.

In any case, the moment I started my current job I realized early on that the Artificial Sweetener Great Debate with my boss would have to be one of those things best not talked about. A sort of agree to disagree sort of thing.

But with the revamping and updating of current handouts, specifically on our cardiac diets that now lists Limiting Added Sugar, we’ve been forced to talk about the use of Artificial, oops I mean No or Low Calorie Sweeteners.

If you couldn’t quite tell, I’m not the biggest fan.

And honestly, it doesn’t have to do too much with safety. Although I’m not really into the whole, known to cause cancer in mice BUT NOT HUMANS sort of thing. That kind of freaks me out. Especially since I’m older now. And well, unfortunately there’s more people in my circle of love that are getting cancer.

When I’m asked by patients my thoughts on artificial sweeteners I let them know, ask 10 dietitians you may get 10 different answers but you asked me.

Why would you want to consume something sweeter than sugar?  Acesulfame K and aspartame are about 200 times sweeter than sugar; saccharin is 300 times sweeter; stevia sweeteners are between 200 and 300 times sweeter (the leaves ~40 times sweeter); and sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar.

Gross!

Some researchers will say artificial sweeteners don’t desensitize your ability to detect sweet things. I call BS on that one! It’s hard for me to believe that when my boss and I go strawberry picking at the same farm, 2 days apart she picked the not so sweet varieties requiring her to sprinkle 2 blue packets on them while I thought they were insanely sweet. Really?

Also, it’s on the very rare occasion that I meet a patient (especially the ones with diabetes) that consumes appropriate portion sizes of real sugared desserts. If it’s made with artificial sweeteners the serving is still large but somehow justified. And in most cases has just as many total carbohydrates (especially pie). These of course are the same patients that tell me they no longer can eat vitamin rich, fiber packed potatoes. You know… because it’s white starch and it all turns to sugar.

So I’d like to hear YOUR thoughts! Are you struggling with an internal debate or lean far to the left or right? Do you have a love affair with your mid-day Diet Coke that nothing will change your mind. Or have you seen success with using artificial sweeteners for weight loss and/ or blood sugar control??

I’m super interested! Drop a comment below or find me on facebook here.

As always, Hugs!  Kim