Although artificial sweeteners will save you calories. Recent research has linked food sweetened with them to weight gain. In the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, people who drank diet soft drinks instead of regular soft drinks, ate more desserts and bread than those who drank water instead of soda. A separate study at the University of Texas found that drinking just three diet sodas per week could raise your risk of obesity by more than 40 percent.
Although you know difference of diet and non-diet foods, your body doesn’t. When you consume artificial sweeteners, your brain simply registers “sweet,” which triggers a feedback loop that may increase your drive for sugar, says Barry Ropkin, PhD, Author of the University of North Carolina study. Artificial sweeteners like Splenda, stevia, Sweet’N Low, and Equal are hundred of times sweeter than sugar. That means regularly consuming the sugar substitutes may actually increase your overall preference for sweetness. And they’re not limited to, diet drinks. These days artificial sweeteners are lurking in everything from reduced-calorie yogurts to canned fruit to sugar-free pancake syrups. Her ear e some ways to keep artificial sweeteners from sneaking into your daily diet:
Eliminate Soda Entirely
Whenever you see a of soda, conjure a mental picture of yourself opening them can and pouring it into a glass and watching 10 to 12 teaspoons of granular white sugar settle at the bottom of the glass. Maybe the image will help you to avoid reaching for the can – even if it’s diet soda. If you want a fizzy drink, guzzle a glass of seltzer flavored with a slice of lemon or lime. Seltzer has zero calories and is blissfully free of artificial sweeteners. Just don’t be fooled by clear sparkling beverages that look like a seltzer, but contain sugar substitutes – they’re just as dangerous as diet soda.
Wean Yourself Off Of Sugar With Sugar
Satisfying sugar cravings with an artificially sweetened treat isn’t as smart as food manufacturers would have you believe. “Substitutes may not signal the same satiety hormones or sugar, making it easier to overeat,” says Lona Sandon, RD, an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. They may be because real triggers a more prolonged release of satisfying dopamine than artificial sweeteners do.
Instead of trading sugar to chemicals replace your normal indulgences with portion-controlled desserts that have nutritional benefit. For example, instead of calorie chocolate cake, break off a few squares of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate. Or instead of sugary Popsicle, munch on frozen berries or grapes.
Opt For Natural Sugar
The healthiest way to satisfy your sweet tooth is to grab a piece of fruit. Artificial sweeteners are generally reserved for unhealthy processed foods, which add zero nutritional benefit to your diet. By swapping in fruit, you’re folding in better-for-you natural sugars. Grapes, mangoes and sweet cherries are some of the sweetest foods on the shelf.
The best sweeteners are those that offer extra health benefits. Honey, for example, is loaded with antioxidants and is thought to have antibacterial properties. And University in Rhode Island researchers found that real maple syrup packs 54 different antioxidant. But keep in mind: Unlike artificial sweeteners, both honey and maple syrup have roughly the same number of calories per teaspoon as sugar, so drizzle sparingly.