Artificial sweeteners are basically toxic substances to the human body.
If you think about how humans have evolved, the bodies we have now are designed for the way the world was thousands of years ago. So, we get motion sickness when we are on boats because our balance is thrown off and our body assumes we’ve been poisoned and forces us to vomit it up (since boats weren’t around back then that’s our bodies very logical conclusion.) We also respond to emotional and mental stress the same as we were equipped to handle stress back then. Stress in prehistoric times often came in short bursts, like when we had to run from predators, so our fight-or-flight system was activated and it helped us kick ass for a short period of time. However, now many people have chronic stress that lasts for days, months or years and our body is still responding in that fight-or-flight manner but it’s destroying us (I have at least two stress related conditions; IBS & brutal jaw pain from clenching it.)
Something else our bodies aren’t equipped to do? Digest artificial food. Think our body know’s what the hell to do with a Twinkie? No. So most of it gets all garbled up in our insides (this is obviously extremely scientific) and we are left feeling like crap.
Over the last few years I’ve transitioned into a mostly real foods diet. If I don’t know where it came from on earth I try not to eat it. I’ll still eat snack bars and other prepackaged foods so long as I can truly identify all of the ingredients on the list. Clearly this doesn’t happen 100% of the time but I strive to keep a nice 80/20 balance in what I eat.
One thing I’ve been really, really bad about is artificial sweeteners. A typical day I’d consume them at least 2-3 times.
- Breakfast: Stevia in my oatmeal and zero calorie caffeinated drink mix with aspartame
- Snack: Sometimes a protein bar that has artificial sweeteners in it
- Throughout the day: a couple no sugar added popsicles with aspartame & more of the caffeinated drink mix
- Night: Protein ice cream I make with a couple packets of some Stevia variety
- Weekly: Low calorie ice creams, a couple of sugar free mints when I’m on campus, the occasional diet soda…
It’s pretty bad.
For the last few weeks I’ve had intense bloating and cramping. When I was about 20 I started having these episodes where I’d get sharp shooting pain and my stomach would distend out so much I couldn’t even keep my pants zipped up (and of course this always happened out in public.) After a few hours it would usually settle down, but one time it got so bad my Mom took me to the ER where they diagnosed me with IBS mostly because they couldn’t see anything else wrong with it.
A few years ago I started cutting way back on dairy, gluten, and processed foods and I felt so much better. I rarely had any issues, but about 2 weeks ago I started having daily stomach pain. Nothing in my diet really changed, but I did try a new brand of Stevia out about the same time and I’m pretty confident that, along with my overall excessive consumption, artificial sweeteners is the culpurit.
I woke up Tuesday ready to do whatever it takes to start feeling normal again. I spent some time looking up fun healthy new recipes to try out. I’ve been totally averse to salads lately (they never fill me up!) and I can’t remember the last time I really tried a lot of new stuff so I wanted a diet shake-up.
I’ll confess: Tuesday I cut out all artificial sweeteners except for a little of the caffeine drink in the morning and I still felt horrible after eating lunch and dinner (leftover curry.) So, maybe it’s carbs? Or maybe I’ll just never eat solid foods again?
Yesterday I came home after class and made this incredible Aloha salad. I added some miso to the tempeh when frying it, made up the delicious avocado & tahini sauce, and went to town.
At this point I’m trying not to stress out to much about it because I know that will only make it worse. It’s still really, really frustrating. If my symptoms don’t get considerably better in the next 2-3 days I’ll either (1) go to the doctors (2) try the BRAT diet or (3) try the FODMAPS diet.
Have you ever had chronic digestive issues?
Do you have any food allergies?