My Week Without Artificial Sweetener

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I Love Fake Sugar

I am not going to lie, I love sweets. Give me cake, cookies, brownies, fudge, candy... I am a happy camper. Unfortunately, none of that is good for me, so I try to limit my intake. Since I am not supposed to have a lot of sugar, I only eat it when I have dessert. This means my sodas are sugar free. Yes, my sodas always have delicious, wonderful, calorie-free aspartame.

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about the dangers of aspartame. My beloved calorie-free treat is being blamed for health issues like dizzy spells, seizures, and memory loss. Well, poo on those people! They are ruining my happy, aspartame filled life. I ignored the warnings for a while, but I will be honest, I don't remember anything anymore. The name of that guy from that movie I saw that day... I don't have a clue. I am blank.

So who knows? Maybe there really is something to this whole memory loss thing and aspartame? What do I know? Perhaps the sugar companies of the world are just making up these studies to make people convert back. Who knows? All I know is, I am willing to give up my beloved sweetener for a week to see if it makes a difference. You never know, maybe I might actually remember the name of my best friend from first grade again once my experiment ends.

For now, I am starting an exciting online diary of my artificial sweetener free existence. Won't you join me?

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Day 1

My first day without artificial sweetener began like any other. It is a Tuesday and I woke up today thinking my usual first thoughts, "Oh no, Tuesday... work... grrr... alarm... grrr." As you can tell, I am extremely articulate in the morning. Perhaps the aspartame has killed more brain cells than I thought.

I made myself a delicious smoothie and sweetened it with maple syrup. Mmmm... maple goodness. No aspartame for me! The rest of my morning went OK except I lacked caffeine. Since I can't have diet soda and can't have real soda because of all the calories, I decided I was basically beginning a caffeine free and soda free existence this week, too. Wow, that is a lot of healthiness.

3:15 P.M. - I snapped.

Alright, I don't know about any of you, but have you ever tried to get through an entire workday at an office job without caffeine? It is torture. Sheer torture. So back to just being artificial sweetener free, and let's have some caffeine.

I decided to make myself some hot tea. I sweetened it with sugar. Yes, gasp, sugar! Real sugar. The kind with calories that I never drink. The kind that does not have that amazing aspartame aftertaste I have grown to love so much. I did not allow myself a lot of sugar either. My tea was bland, but at least I was awake. I might make it through this challenge after all.

Day 2

I've decided having a good memory is pretty much overrated. Who cares about a little memory loss when the only thing I can remember is the sweet, sweet taste of beautiful aspartame? If only some how, some way, my memory could erase how much I love aspartame.

This is a full battle. I am going to win this war. Even though I long for that wonderful aspartame aftertaste, I am going to make it through this. After all, I survived before aspartame and I will survive after it.

As a little memorial to my past, full of fun aspartame sweetening moments, I am posting a song I can't get out of my head now. But aspartame, I will learn how to live without you.

How Am I Supposed to Without You... Aspartame?

Just when you least expect an aspartame appearance...

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Day 3

Much to my dismay, I realized the mints I had been eating for the last couple of days actually have aspartame. I mean, technically I knew this all along, but they are small little mints I pretty much only eat once or twice a day. I did not give it any thought when I had a couple. So basically, the first two days of my journey were not 100% aspartame free, but instead, 99% aspartame free. Whatever. I don't care at this point. My head hurts and I would kill for a Diet Coke right now.

From this point on, I will no longer get to eat my delicious mints until this journey through artificial sweetener free hell is over. That means not only am I in a really nasty mood with a headache and a strong desire to drink a diet soda, now my breath stinks, too. Can this experiment be anymore fun? I think not. I will tell you what, when these 7 days are over, I might stop drinking anything with aspartame in it, but I REFUSE to give up my mints. Fresh smelling breath is extremely important and those mints are delicious.

Day 4

It has been an extremely stressful week at work. Unfortunately, my lack of aspartame has not helped. Since I am not too fond of drinking actual sugar, I am also suffering from a major lack in caffeine. I've had headaches for the past 3 days, but it is hard to determine if the headaches are: A) due to a lack of artificial sweetener, B) due to a lack of caffeine, C) extreme stress, D) allergies, or E) all of the above. Something tells me it is all of the above.

What I do know is every single person I have come in contact with today has seriously gotten on my nerves. I've felt myself close to snapping more than once today and I am completely, utterly overjoyed that it is Friday night. I don't have to worry about work for the entire weekend. I can sit around and not drink or eat aspartame and have really bad breath the whole weekend. Well, I am hoping I can get by without the bad breath, but it is nice to know that is an option for me.

I just might survive this experiment / nightmare after all.

Day 5

I no longer want to open bags of aspartame and pour them into my mouth. I feel like I am making progress. I am also no longer frustrated with everyone and everything, but of course, that could be just because it is Saturday and everything is better on Saturday.

I actually do have some energy today and I think things are getting better. Of course, I have not seen any major improvements in memory function or anything. It is too soon to tell as far as that goes. I would probably have to quit for a long time to see any real difference. I can't honestly see myself being able to give up diet sodas forever, but I know I can seriously cut back. For now, that is the goal after this experiment ends. A life without aspartame is perhaps a life not worth living; but cutting back on it is totally fine.

Day 6

I am starting to think this experiment was a bad idea. I had hoped I would feel so much better about myself and my health at the end of this week. Instead, I am tired, grumpy, and still craving sweet drinks. I have even started drinking coffee or tea with real sugar in it again... A LOT. I doubt that is good for me either. Too much sugar is not a healthy choice, so what is worse?

Basically, I am just counting down the minutes until I can at least have my sugar-free mints again... especially since I seem to be coming down with a sinus infection. My breath needs some extra help! Don't worry, I will spare you the details.

I had hoped to at least get a really hilarious diary out of this situation. Instead, my hub is just one big whine-fest about how much I miss aspartame. At least this is almost over. Once I start something, I am going to finish it. Just one more day to go!

Day 7

I have finally made it to the finish line. I have survived 7 days without artificial sweetener and I have not slapped anyone. I consider this a miracle. Now I sit, sucking on a cough drop (sweetened by real sugar, of course) and thinking about all I have learned.

What I have really learned is I love crap with lots of sweetener in it. If I can't have my calorie-free delight, aspartame, I will sweeten whatever I am drinking with real sugar. Real sugar has too many calories and I can't see that working out for me. I also know I must give up eating so much aspartame. I have to incorporate some type of balance in my diet.

A soda here and there is now the goal. No more chugging Diet Cokes andcoffeewith packets of artificial sweetener each day. Instead, a little aspartame here and there is all I am going to use. I will even allow myself real sugar every now and then. Gasp!

For now, my days of being aspartame free are about to end. I am really happy about that! Someone hand me my mints.


Copyright ©2013 Jeannieinabottle


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Comments 14 comments

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

I have never been into the artificial sweeteners...I don't have a sweet tooth except occasionally.. I like fat instead...like steak etc. Have you tried xylitol..a natural sweetener that supports good blood sugar ranges and is also good for your gums.


innerspin profile image

innerspin 3 years ago from uk

Well done you! Must have been a tough week. I'd find giving up mints the hardest part, love them. This was an interesting account, not sure I've heard of anyone else quite so fixated on aspartame. I hope you found the experience valuable.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I am not hooked on caffeine and I have rarely had artificial sweetners, or at least not willingly. :) However, I know all about addictions, and I do know how hard it is to get through a day when all you do is think about the thing you can't have. Good luck to you, Jeannie.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Very realistic account of your aspartame-free week, Jennie. But now I have a terrific headache from reading about your aspartame-free week. Now I have to search for the nearest chocolate bar to alleviate that stress. But at least I have a valid excuse, right?


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

carol7777 - You are really lucky. I have always loved every sugary treat. Chocolate is always the downfall of my diet. I have not tried xylitol yet, but I will look into it. Thanks for the advice!

innerspin - The mints and the diet soda was the worst part. I think I usually consume A LOT of aspartame each week, so going without it was really noticeable. I think I began to obsess over it a bit too much. But I did learn from the experience and I will seriously cut back from now on. Thanks for your comment.

billybuc - Thanks so much! It was a tough week. I am back to eating my mints again, and I will admit, I had a Diet Coke today. However, I used to gulp down so much sweetener it was ridiculous. For the rest of the day, it is all about drinking water! Everything is OK if kept to a minimum. :-)

drbj - Yes, you have every excuse to eat a chocolate bar right now. ;-) Ummm... I would not mind having one myself. Sigh. I will eat my fruit salad instead. Thanks for your comment!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

Good for you. If you read ingredient labels there is SO MUCH out there that has the fake stuff in it. Glad you are giving aspartame freedom a try.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 3 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

I can't stand artificial sugar at all. The aftertaste is nightmarish to me. Not to mention all of the negative affects of it. But I understand once you have it, it's hard to let go.

Good for you for making an effort. I think a little goes a long way. Stay strong Jeannie!


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

i don't go for artificial sweeteners either. I prefer condense milk for my beverages and original fresh fruits too. Of course baking cookies and cakes need castor sugars. Voted up


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

FlourishAnyway - The labels on most food is so scary. I wish the labels were not so scary. Thanks for your comment!

Alecia Murphy - I love the aftertaste, but I realize that makes me weird. Most people don't enjoy the fake aftertaste. Thanks for the encouraging words!

peachpurple - I need to go a healthier route like that, too. Thanks for checking out my hub and for the vote up.


macteacher profile image

macteacher 3 years ago from New York

I can't handle artificial sweeteners. The aftertaste is awful. I drink coffee with some sugar. I try to watch the sugar intake. I'd have to be committed if I tried to give up caffeine and sugar. But I have decided I'd rather be a little fat than miserable. After reading your hub I think I"m on the right track. Good luck on your journey to an aspartame free existence. :-)


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 3 years ago from Upstate, New York

I have to say I am not a fan of artificial sweetener after-taste. I curtail my sugar intake but still require actual natural sugar. I commend you for taking on this task. AT the risk of offending, I found your daily descriptions humorous as well as interesting! I once tried to curtail my caffeine intake and could soooo relate!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Wow, it seems like no one likes the deliciousness of the artificial sweetener aftertaste. I love it! I think it is an acquired taste though. Thanks, macteacher and shiningirisheyes for your comments!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK

Jeannie, interesting hub; I've tried to give up aspartame but I can't. I use it in my 4 cups of coffee a day and also whenever I drink sugar free pop (I only drink that at weekends). Given that I don't really use that much of it, I've decided to stop worrying about it - I have a sweet tooth and that's that . Sweetener is still healthier than sugar. I have tried alternatives when cooking desserts like using dates (thanks to melovy here on HP) which are very sweet and are a good replacement but I can't seem to like coffee without sweetener. Well Done on your semi-success though .


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD Author

It is good to hear from someone else that loves aspartame. Unfortunately, I tend to dump it into drink, which is the major issue. For now, I am still using a bit of sugar and a bit of Equal. I long for more, but I will just have to adjust. Thanks for checking out my hub and thanks for your comment!

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