I have an amazing community in a Facebook group who are positive, motivational, inspirational, supportive, and all striving to become a better version of themselves. I started the group 4 years ago and it is one of my favorites groups.
It’s a safe place to share struggles and triumphs and we always encourage every member to be open and honest. We also don’t judge or discriminate as we are all such different people.
Since health and weight loss are highly affected by nutrition, every week we run a nutrition challenge as a group. There are 8 challenges that run a total of 9 weeks. And then we repeat. The best thing about this process is that you can see progress from one challenge every 9 weeks. For example, one of the weeks is AVOID DAIRY. When I first started the group, I wanted to be dairy-free, but was still having it 2-3 times each week. Even though my goal was always 7 days dairy-free, I would still have it a few times a week.
After a few 9 week rounds, my dairy started going down to 1-2 times a week, and then to once a week. I eventually succeeded with my goal of 7 days without dairy!! Baby steps (of course) but in the end I accomplished what I set out to do. And as most of you know, I am now 100% dairy-free and have been since the beginning of the year.
Now if you don’t WANT to do all 7 days, you can set your OWN goal. For example, one of our weeks is AVOID SUGAR. I for sure want to cut down on sugar, but I like to have a treat now and then, and I love oatmeal with PB and Grade B Maple Syrup. So my goal is for sure to cut down, but not necessarily to cut it out. So I look at my week ahead and my activities and decide how many days I want to aim for. It’s usually 5.
I like to do the challenges from least to most difficult for most people so that we see some successes before the struggles set in.
Today we will talk about WEEK #7: AVOID ARTIFICIAL CRAP: Artificial Sweeteners
I like to group all artificial stuff into one challenge. CRAP=sweeteners, colors, flavors, etc. Basically anything artificial that is in our foods…which is WAY more than we think. In fact, there are many labels that read: natural and artificial flavors (colors, etc) so foods we think are all natural, actually have a mixture of natural AND artificial crap min them…BUMMER!!!
So this challenge is truly a challenge. Label reading is the key to getting this right.
There are so many artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors out there, I am going to divide this article into 3 parts…starting with artificial sweeteners.
With obesity on the rise, artificial sweeteners with no calories popped up everywhere. At the time, they seemed like a good idea until further research showed the side effects weren’t worth it. These fake sweeteners cause symptoms that range from headaches and migraines to weight gain and even more serious conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
What many people don’t realize is that artificial sweeteners also can cause a dangerous addiction, an addiction to overly sweet foods. They retrain the taste buds to need more and more, sweeter and sweeter foods. This leads to even greater incidences of obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney damage, and more.
Here is a list of artificial sweeteners. Bring this list with you while learning to read labels. If even small amounts of these sweeteners are in your foods, I would avoid them all together.
- Acesulfame potassium
- Sweet ‘N Low
Here is a list of products where artificial sweeteners are typically found that you may not know about…
- Toothpaste and mouthwash
- Children’s chewable vitamins
- Cough syrup and liquid medicines
- Chewing gum
- No-calorie waters and drinks
- Alcoholic beverages
- Salad dressings
- Frozen yogurt and other frozen deserts
- Baked goods
- Breakfast cereals
- Processed snack foods
- “Lite” or diet fruit juices and beverages
- Prepared meats
- Nicotine gum
Two years ago on New Year’s Eve, I gave up artificial sweeteners. The hardest part for me was gum. I was a HUGE gum chewer and almost all gums (even ones with sugar) have artificial sweeteners in them.
So practice reading labels until you are confident you understand all the different artificial sweeteners that are lurking in your foods. An easy trick is to eat whole, real foods like fruit, veggies, and grains. Then you don’t have to read labels!! If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, your body PROBABLY won’t like it!
Here is an article I like on sweeteners…
And here are some comments from participants…
“I didn’t realize I was eating so much crap until I started reading labels. Thanks for making me aware of this!”
“I can’t believe there are artificial sweeteners in toothpaste. I’m so glad I did this challenge so that I can make smarter choices for my entire family.”
Here are deets on the Avoiding Artificial Crap challenge…
And join us for info, articles, support, accountability, and education here…
And put down diet coke and sugar-free candy STAT!!!
See you SOON!