Pour Some Sugar Substitute On Me

I haven't had a Diet Coke in a couple of weeks. I wish I could say that I had an epiphany about the chemicals I was putting in my body and decided to drink only local organic mineral water collected in rainbarrels by Trappist monks, but really what happened is that we just ran out of Diet Coke and I never got around to buying any more. 

And I don't miss it, really, which is funny because I thought I would. I never really intended to give it up—I like my vices, thank you very much, and as long as I'm not shooting up heroin on my couch every night, I think we can forgive a little aspartame—so there wasn't really a whole lot of hand-wringing and dramatic proclaiming about the decision. I just kind of stopped. And Sean kind of stopped too.

I'm not telling you this to be sanctimonious—I'm currently sitting here working my way through an enormous pile of French candy my friend Caroline brought me from Paris, so it seems I've replaced fake sugar with actual sugar—but more because I'm just kind of surprised by what a big deal it wasn't. I mean, Sean and I weren't addicts or anything—we'd fallen into the habit of having a Diet Coke with dinner each night, but it's not like we were the Keith Richards and Mick Jagger of Diet Coke consumption, you know?—so maybe that's why going cold turkey didn't hurt as much as I'd anticipated it would, but still. I was expecting something, I guess. Tremors, maybe? Cravings? Vivid dreams about holding up a gas station and drinking their entire Diet Coke supply in one go, then waking up sweatily in my bed, my hands clutching wildly at imaginary bottles? 

But nope. Nothing. I just drank Diet Coke and then I stopped drinking Diet Coke. And it got me thinking: as a chronic I-had-a-donut-well-there-goes-the-whole-day-ICE-CREAM-FOR-EVERYONE!-er, what if I could just take this relaxed eh, I've run out, guess I'll quit approach with other things in my life—French candy, say—instead of stomping around making a huge fanfare about giving up illicit pleasures only to find myself desperately gorging on them three days later?

(Just to be clear, the illicit pleasures we're talking about here are things like Caramellos and cheese, not, like, blow and hookers or anything. I mean, I didn't think I had to clarify, but you can never be sure. To be honest, I'm actually not even 100% sure which drug blow is. Make a mental note to yourself right now never to watch a Quentin Tarantino movie with me, because you won't be able to hear the dialog over the keyboard clatter of me googling slang terms for class A drugs so I can follow along.) 

(Okay, I looked it up. Cocaine.) 

Anyway, now that I've ditched Diet Coke—for the moment, anyway; I haven't really wanted one since I quit, but who's to say the moment won't strike, and denying myself just makes me want fourteen an hour later—I've been wondering if I might be able to wean myself off Splenda too. Again, it's not like I'm sitting at home ripping open little packets of Splenda and pouring them into my mouth one after the other or anything, but I can't drink a cup of tea or coffee without one. Actually, I bet I could totally drink a cup of tea or coffee without one, but I haven't really tried. Has anyone stopped drinking Splenda before? Did you go back to straight sugar, or did you try something like agave nectar or Truvia or the crushed eyelashes of angels? And hey, did this blog title guarantee a Def Leppard singalong in your brain for the next two days or what? Yeah, sorry about that. I'm there right now too, if it helps. 

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Aug 02, 2012

they say that to some people splenda and other replacements don't have an off taste, but it tastes like sugar.

I'm not in that category and really can't handle the taste of sugar substitutes! I figure that a few extra calories are not going to be the end of me requiring me to suffer a taste I think is gross (sorry). Its just like Nora Ephron's quote that life is to short for this that and egg white omelettes. (can't remember what the this and that parts of the quote though...)

:) still loving your blog!

Aug 02, 2012

I gave up sugar in my tea & coffee (I've never been one for sweeteners anyhow) by switching to drinking them with LOTS of milk. Whole milk. Or better yet, cream. It makes the lack of sugar easier to take, and then you can gradually cut back on the dairy.

But it will be a cold day in hell (or just a really desperate bout of the sleepies) when I drink black coffee or tea.

Aug 02, 2012

Well, I did quit Splenda after my doctor told me about all the terrible side effects. My migraines have actually decreased and in general I feel better.
I am now using either Whey Low, sold at Whole Foods, or a sugar blend made with Xylitol. Those two options are way better than Splenda, Equal or anything that might have aspartame, sucralose or acesulfame.

Aug 02, 2012

I stopped drinking Diet Coke cold turkey last October. I just decided that after so long--*cough* 20 years *cough* it was probably a good idea. What started out as an "I don't drink coffee so I'll drink this for my caffeine" idea in college, became a habit. A more than a can a day habit. And I just decided after 20 years, that it probably wasn't such a good idea to keep drinking it. So I gave it up. The first couple of days were kind of hard, especially because it was my only source of caffeine. But after that, I found that I truly didn't miss it. Took a sip of my husband's D.C. a few weeks ago and found that I really didn't like it. Like "holy sugar rush, Batman!" didn't like it. Not really sure what benefit it has given my body but I'm certain it must be better for me, so I'm just imagining that my spleen is really, really shiny.

Also? TOTALLY have the Def Leppard earworm now.

Aug 02, 2012

I put honey and milk in my tea, and Trader Joes vanilla creamer in my coffee. I used to use agave but then read some articles about how it actually is not the greatest for the glycemic index like at first claimed and could cause some bad things (infertility).

Aug 02, 2012

I quite Splenda a couple years ago, when I decided that I'd rather be fat than have a scary disease from whatever I was putting in my body. Surprisingly, I did not become fat. However, things did start tasting a lot better. I also realized that I was putting Splenda in my coffee and tea to save calories, but then drinking those beverages with something like a brownie. It was such a small amount of sugar that I'd have to put in my coffee that it didn't make sense to use a zero calorie thing instead. Actually, now that I'm reflecting on it, stopping using Splenda really changed the way that I think about food, in a much healthier way.

Aug 02, 2012

I cannot use fake sweeteners of any kind. I get crushing migraines and am plagued with nausea for hours afterward. Two days ago, I was at a fruebd's for dinner. The dessert tasted a little funny, but it was small so I finished it. Afterward, on the drive home, I was struck with a migraine so terrible I could barely finish the drive home. I immediately went to bed with an ice pack and gagged must of the night. Turns out, there was artificial sweetener in the dessert.

I figure a little sugar has got to be better for me than all that gagging! Bring on the calories. Also, I drink about a can of coke/a cup of coffee a month so it's not so bad. I prefer water or sparkling water.

Aug 02, 2012

I stopped using splenda in my coffee about a year ago just because I thought it cost too much (teacher salary). I started putting in more coffee mate fancy creamer and then it just became regular half and half for whatever reason. Just using half and half in coffee or tea might be healthier, but I really just do it because it takes less time and is easier. Laziness is a powerful motivator.

Aug 02, 2012

I drink my coffee black and my hot tea with raw sugar and ice tea unsweetened. I am in the group of artificial sweeteners giving me migraines.

Aug 02, 2012

I don't drink sodas at home (many boring reasons) but sometimes when it's really hot outside a FOUNTAIN coke sounds like the best thing in the world. Such a huge difference in a fountain soda and a can, OMG. So many more bubbles! So much tastier!

So, I have a fountain coke when I have a cheeseburger and IT IS SO GOOD MMMMMM.


I literally had the exact same "DC" (diet coke) break up experience! I occasionally will crave one (usually a fountain McDonald's DC). When I want one, I go get it. Usually I take a few sips and then I'm satisfied. Moderation is much better than deprivation! But now this exchange has me wanting one...

Staci M.W.
Aug 02, 2012

#1 - Good for you!! Leave that Diet Coke in the dust!

#2 - Agave nectar FTW!! That's the only sweetener I use, and only for coffee.

Maybe you'll develop anxieties over using artificial sweeteners like I have and it will be just that much easier for you to avoid them!

Aug 02, 2012

I gave up diet coke a few years ago when I quit drinking caffeine. When I went back to caffeine during grad school, I opted for coffee instead of diet coke. Any time I've had a sip of diet coke since then, it tastes disgusting to me (and I used to drink at least one a day, every day). I do still use splenda in my tea though. Baby steps.

Aug 02, 2012

I quit artificial sweeteners a few years ago. I use sugar, honey, or, my personal favorite, especially in iced coffee - maple syrup.

Aug 02, 2012

I don't know when I decided to give up the artificial sweeteners but at some point I decided real things were better than chemical things. I started eating real butter and using real sugar. Which is not to say I am the patron saint of whole foods, as I am pretty sure mac and cheese from a box doesn't count, but overall I try to make those choices. I personally like honey in coffee but I've found that while the first week of drinking coffee black is sort of painful, after that it gets better. Sort of like exercising the unsweetened muscles.

Aug 02, 2012

Hey! I've (mostly) given up Splenda! I'd been having a lot of headaches, and it turns out Splenda lights the headache fire (or so I researched.) For tea, I just sort of don't sweeten anymore--and you get used to that just fine--but for coffee, I've been using real sugar. I'm aiming to cut down more and more each day so I can finally be one of those "Oh, just a touch a nonfat milk" girls, but sometimes I'm like, "Forget that, it's TWO TEASPOON THURSDAY!"

You win some, you lose some.

Aug 02, 2012

I thought I would feel this way when I gave up dairy. But nope. It was just sort of "i'm not buying a new carton of milk or a new block of cheese" and that was it. Haven't had it in 9 months now. though I suppose saying it like that sounds like a former dairy addict - counting my time since giving it up...

I like to use REAL stuff - so no splenda for me, ever. I drink espresso with almond milk and it's delicious. Same with chai tea. If I want to add sugar, I add a packet of the real stuff. yum!

Aug 02, 2012

Wow, you're all so good! Who knew I was the only Splenda delinquent?! I feel like I've been caught smoking behind the school gates.

This is very encouraging, though, thank you. So encouraging, in fact, that I'm currently drinking a Splenda-less cup of coffee.

Aug 02, 2012

I recently kicked my soda addiction, and like you it was not something I planned and was also really easy to do (much to my delight)! Apparently though, after reading some of the comments above, I need to be looking into my splenda addiction. Scary stuff!!!

Aug 02, 2012

I totally WAS the Mick Jagger of Diet Coke/Diet DP consumption, and I recently quit too. I was drinking 4-5 a day (SOMETIMES MORE OMG). I'm a little ashamed at how MUCH diet soda I was ingesting and not because I think it's The Worst Thing in the World, but simply because 4-5 of ANYTHING a day (except maybe sit-ups? yoga classes?) can't be good for you.

I too was kind of shocked at how okay I felt, though. I was pretty grumpy those first few days with a side of an annoying headache here or there and I am so tiiiiiiiired at a normal time of night now, but I have not felt like punching anyone for their diet soda in weeks and I'm just sort of....over it.

It feels weirdly awesome and I, too, am thinking of what I can get out of my system next.

Nothing But Bonfires
Aug 02, 2012

Whoa, Jennie, now that you mention it, I have totally had all three of those symptoms (grouchiness, tiredness really early in the evening, AND headaches) over the last few weeks. That could explain it! Hmm, guess the transition wasn't as seamless as I thought.

Aug 02, 2012

i quit soft drinks by accident too. And now I hardly EVER drink them. i do love a good rootbeer float though! but i no longer crave them. only took a couple of weeks!

I've stopped putting sugar in my tea. I use honey! now i dont like the taste of sugar in it. too sweet! If i'm drinking herbal tea i don't usually put anything in it. just straight is delicious.

Aug 02, 2012

So once I year(for Lent, usually), I give up meat for about 6 weeks. And when I do, I dream about foraging through trash dumpsters to find a red steak. So yeah, I know what you mean by you say you were expecting some withdrawal symptoms (and it's not like I eat a lot of meat -- maybe 2 or 3 times a week it's on the dinner menu).
Anyway, I tried aspartame, but it gave me migraines. So I tried Splenda, and found that it actually made my face break out. So now I just use real sugar or the Sun Crystals, which is a Stevia and sugar blend, and have found no side effects to that (yipppeeee!).

Aug 02, 2012

I've never really drunk fizzy drinks, I might have one a month on a Friday if I'm feeling particulary daring (hungover), but I just don't drink them that much. I drink water all day long. Like 4L - I think I have an addiction to that!

A lack of caffeine consumption my whole life has made me incredibly sensitive to caffeine though, and more than two coffees early in the day, or anything beyond 3pm would give me palpitations, and keep me awake all night! Seriously.

There is some benefit to lack of toleration! when I'm hungover and have a shot of Espresso, it's light a bolt of lightening & adrenaline surge for me!

I do use a Splenda in my tea & coffee though. Or sweetex.

Aug 02, 2012

PS. If they sold Root Beer in London though, it would be game over for me. I would drink it like a fish and die happy. Just as well they don't eh?


I absolutely cannot do aspartame. It destroys my stomach, gives me major headaches, and invariably causes my blood sugar to take a nosedive at inopportune moments. I don't really have much of a sweet tooth, so most of the sugar I consume is the small amount in my morning coffee, or whatever sugar is in the wine that I drink. The few times I've completely cut sugar out of my diet, I've felt FANTASTIC. I hate to say it, but I'm starting to get on board with the "sugar is toxic" camp. I resent that, but so it goes.

Aug 02, 2012


Aug 02, 2012

My husband gave up beverages with any form of sugar/sweetner and caffeine on July 1st. He limited himself to decalf coffee black, decalf tea, water and beer. He was a cranky mess and I continued to drink enough Diet Coke and Pepsi Max for the both of us. When we ran out I didn't buy more. I still have a giant Costco sized box of Splenda and I use that in my coffee (WHICH I WILL NEVER EVER GIVE UP AGAIN, after doing so twice for my pregnancies). But he is no longer cranky, and has now given up processed grains (except beer) along with his beverages. I'm sure he's a better person for it. I drink one diet coke a day at work, and generally one coffee (but now its reciept treat month at Starbucks) so we'll amp that up to two coffees a day. With classic syrup. Once that box of Splenda is gone I'll go fake sugar free I guess. I'm going to need to by myself a bottle of SBux Classic too.

Aug 02, 2012

haha i'm drinking a Diet Coke as I read this.

Chris C
Aug 02, 2012

Well, I was never much of an artificial sweetener user. I fall into that category of people for whom they taste horrible -- sickly sweet and chemically and just gross. I drink a very occasional diet pop, but it has to be ice cold, and I can usually only get through half of it before I dump it.

Anyway, for my coffee, I usually just use vanilla soy milk. It gives it a bit of sweetness, but without tons of sugar. And it's healthier than half and half. And when I sweeten my tea (rare), I use honey only.

Aug 02, 2012

I quit all artificial sweeteners a few years ago - I slowly weaned myself off, just reducing from one packet to a half, and then down to zero. You'll be stunned at how much it will change your habits - you won't want anything to be AS SWEET again. I love it. Now, if I want something sweetened I just use real sugar which is only 10 calories a tsp!

Aug 02, 2012

I drink my coffee back, unless it's in the evening and then I go for a bit of cream. So I have no experience with Splenda or artificial sweeteners, really.

But I am one of THOSE women who drinks a lot of Diet Coke. A can a day at least, and often two. Three if I didn't sleep well or enough. I wonder how much of it is habit, though. When I'm traveling and it's not possible to keep it up, I don't miss is. But I could not make it through a day at work without one. It'd be more complicated that just not buying it, for me, since there is always a coke machine nearby and a 2pm slump looming on the horizon.

Brooke Raymond
Aug 02, 2012

I have *got* to try the crushed eyelashes of angels. Do they have an after taste?

Home Sweet Sarah
Aug 02, 2012

I randomly gave up Sweet 'n Low maybe 6 months ago and I never looked back. I can't even remember WHY, probably like you said, I just ran out and never bought more.

Now I cannot have anything WITH artificial sweetener in it, for fear it'll trigger a sugar substitute headache (this is not science-based, just my own irrational fear.)

Anyway, I now drink my morning coffee with three sugar cubes and half and half and I drink my tea without any sugar. It's not bad, even! Takes a few mugs to get used to, sure, but not bad at all. Now, dare I say? I prefer it plain!

Of note: I did try agave in my coffee for about a week and couldn't get the measurements right -- way too sweet, now not sweet enough -- and so I went back to sugar cubes.

Aug 02, 2012

I stopped drinking Diet Pepsi cold turkey when I found out I was pregnant (this was three years ago now). I longed, oh how I longed, for that first GIANT Diet Pepsi I'd have as my push present meal, throughout my entire pregnancy. I'd drool over that cool drippy glass sitting across the table from me as my husband enjoyed his nightly refreshment.

And then that day came, and I was handed my reward. I sipped. I spat. No, I didn't. But I wanted to. It was DISGUSTING. And I was sure it wasn't diet. It was! So I tried it again. Blech. Tried my brother's regular Coke. Blech. And that was that. I'd completely lost the taste for it.

I was such an addict that I tried it again a few times over the coming months, hoping something might have changed, but no.

I decided that was among the best of many gifts my son has given me.

Aug 02, 2012

I am a big advocate of almond milk in tea/coffee. Very creamy taste and hint of sweetness. For a mocha flavor, the chocolate really rocks.

Aug 02, 2012

I've been weaning myself off sugar substitutes for the past couple months and currently only use about a half a packet Monday through Friday. I gave up Diet Cokes about the same time and for some reason that proved to be much easier.

For all the agave nectar/syrup devotees, you might want to check out this article: http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/ Agave, at least the kind sold in supermarkets, seems to be more on par with high-fructose corn syrup (worse, actually) than a health food.

Aug 02, 2012

I used to put artificial sweeteners in my tea, but then I started buying really nice, high quality loose leaf tea (green and black), and it was so good on its own that it didn't need sweetener. In fact, the sweetener actually ruined the flavor. I also found that if I really wanted something sweeter, I could add fruit or flower-flavored teas to the mix, which add a nice natural sweetness (peach or mango black tea = yum yum).

Aug 02, 2012

I once gave up sugar completely for close to a year (health reasons). These days I have sugar occasionally, but I find it can be overpowering now in most things. When you omit it from your diet for a while, you notice how needlessly over sweetened our food can be. Ketchup tastes like candy now. It's so gross.

Now I use honey or agave to sweeten my tea but take my coffee black - it's an acquired taste but one you get used to it you can't go back.

Aug 02, 2012

I did a cleanse a year or so ago and aside from eating so many almonds that I developed a sensitivity to them (WAH!), I discovered Stevia. It's super-concentrated It works really well in smoothies and baked goods to provide sweetness and you don't need much at all, so it lasts a while!

I don't drink tea or coffee w/ sweetener (tea I drink black, coffee I add Mocha Mix... hellloo dairy allergy!) so I'm not sure how it would do in coffee, but I think it would work well in tea.

Aug 02, 2012

The amount of Splenda I consume on a daily basis cannot be healthy. I have an iced tea addiction which means each (large) glass of iced tea I consume contains 4 Splenda. In a normal day I consume 16-20 packets of Splenda. My tombstone shall read Death By Splenda. Can you tell by this comment that I really like Splenda? I went through a 1000 count box from Sams Club in three months. I carry them around in my purse and keep them on my desk at work. I might need an intervention.

Aug 03, 2012

Diet sodas have never tasted right to me (I hate artifical sweeteners, they leave a weird filmy feeling in my mouth) but growing up Diet Coke was the only soda my mom would ever buy. I'd go so long without drinking soda that when I finally had one, the carbonation hurt my kid mouth (ridiculous sounding, I know but back then i thought black pepper was too spicy to ingest) so it never became a habit. If I'm going to have a soda at all its Dr Pepper or Cherry Coke.

My vice is potatoes. Dont ever ask me to give up hashbrowns, baked potatoes, scalloped potatoes, tater tots, potato pancakes...

Aug 03, 2012

To quote Danny (purveyor of rare herbs and prescribed chemicals) from "Withnail & I"...

"Apart from personal use, I concur with you."

Nothing But Bonfires
Aug 03, 2012

Marcheline: Best movie ever!

Aug 03, 2012

gave up the canned soda thing a few years ago but have developed a love of sparkling water or low sodium club soda, often with a splash of lemon or lime or smashed raspberries or mint or something. Somehow I couldn't give up icy cold carbonated drinks completely, but now soda is just too sweet, whether diet or non....

I used to mock people with their annoying glass of perrier and lime and now I'm one of them.... OY

Aug 04, 2012

Holly, not to derail your topic, but I just had to tell you I watched Withnail for the first time last month (how did I live 45 years without it???), and I am in the middle of a full-blown obsession. My blog is covered up with Withnail pics and quotes, and I've bought the movie (and the soundtrack on LP) and seen it ten times already. I'm "drifting into the arena of the unwell"... and loving it!

Okay. Back to your regularly scheduled post about Diet Coke.

Aug 04, 2012

Plain ol' sugar for me, and I don't drink pop (as we call it here) or soda (as they seem to call it everywhere else). But I do drink sweet tea - lots of it, and was recently worried I might even have a cavity. But according to the first dental hygienist I'd seen in too-many-years, my teeth look like they were hygienist-cleaned 6 months ago, so I guess it's not too much sugar for me.

Aug 06, 2012

I've never really understood the whole rush to artificial sweetners. I don't drink a lot of pop anyway but I'd give it up entirely if I had to drink the fake stuff. I NEVER got over that icky aftertaste. Ever.

I put a teaspoon of sugar in my coffee-- come on people, it's 16 calories. SIXTEEN. I've actually seen woman flinch away from my spoonful of sugar like I'm putting a Snicker's in my coffee. They are shocked when I tell them it's so few calories. I really think people have forgotten how few calories there really are since sugar has been so demonized. To me that's nothing compared to putting fake, unpronouceable products in your body.

Aug 06, 2012

That's how I stopped smoking, drinking, and using sugar- I stopped shopping for the stuff! (My migraines stopped too!)

Aug 07, 2012

Try a teaspoon of Nutella stirred into your coffee (delicious) and honey in your tea..!

Aug 07, 2012

Was never in the artificial sugar camp (hate the way it tastes), but I used to always put sugar in my coffee and tea. I went cold turkey on the tea one year after my friend told me she weaned herself off and never been back! It usually only takes a few cups of tea, and then you get used to the taste and prefer it. With coffee, I still like a little sugar or honey, but I agree with jen, almond milk is delicious and adds a different flavor to your coffee. Good luck!

Aug 07, 2012

Oh, darn, a friend gave me Withnail and I a few years back and I never watched it for some dumb reason. Now I must, if I can unearth it.

I only like iced coffee (because, you know, it's like coffee ice cream every morning and whatnot), and I've been doing it with sugar free vanilla torani syrup, which doesn't necessarily taste "good," but it does make the coffee better. Regular sugar doesn't dissolve in cold coffee, so when I make iced coffee at home I either have to dissolve the full sugary sugar (I like the sugar in the raw stuff) in the hot coffee first, then hope it translates, or -- use Splenda, which does dissolve. But I am afraid of Splenda, for the various scary health reasons mentioned above, and also because a coworker of mine attributes his serious neck pain to a Splenda addiction. THe neck pain subsided after he cut out the Splenda. I'm not sure I had such an obvious cause/effect experience, but why risk it?

I have to admit that I'm always amazed when I hear about men drinking diet coke because I bought into all those rumors about it making men impotent. I guess that was a passing fad. But another friend years ago experienced temporary paralysis in her upper body (couldn't move to get out of bed), and the doctor told her it was because of her diet coke addiction. I know, Snopes anyone? That's the only extreme story like that I've ever heard, but I only ever drink regular Coke now. I do need to cut that out.

Thanks for introducing this topic, because it's good to see the info about agave syrup, etc. I had no idea it was kinda bad also! Boooo!

sensibly sassy
Aug 11, 2012

Its strange, I've never been one to drink soda. The fact that there really isn't anything real about it kinda freaks me out. I guess I'm too neurotic to enjoy soda? BUT I must admit that once in a blue moon a fountain (not can!) sprite sounds delish with a burrito.

Jennifer Brown
Aug 21, 2012

TRUVIA. I switched my husband to it from Splenda and he loves it.

Sep 07, 2012

Stevia! It is a plant and just happens to be crazy sweet. Also, agave nectar. Great substitutes for sugar that aren't Splenda. I saw this as a complete diet soda addict, and hope that America (like a lot of countries) will replace aspartme with stevia in Diet Sodas asap. :)

May 18, 2016

Keep these arleitcs coming as they've opened many new doors for me.

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