June 29, 2011

Is Your Sweetener Making You Fat?

Or  worse... sick?

This post has been on my mind for a very long time.  I have just never had the time to get around to writing it.  The other day, I was writing a little note to my friend Laura on the topic of Splenda  and in the end I realized I had pretty much covered what I wanted to share with you.  So I am reprinting the majority of what I said to her for your reading pleasure.  ☺

I wanted to just caution you on substituting splenda.  I keep saying I need to post about this but just haven't ever had the time to get around to it.


As you know, I have always been a natural foods advocate and a health freak when it comes to eating right, exercising and feeling great.  In 2005 when I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, I began substituting Splenda as a way to have my cake and eat it too.  Knowing that artificial sweeteners still were just that, artificial, I limited myself to one serving of sweet tea with splenda or a dessert a day.  And many days, I would have none.


In 2007, I started suffering from unbearable joint pain and other odd health problems.  I brushed them off as being pregnant and having a new born and went on.  Although, I noted great frustration at the fact that I was watching every bite I ate and exercising at least 1 hour a day 6 days a week and could not lose my baby pounds.  


In February 2008, I gained 15 pounds in less than a months time with no explainable reason.  Again, I figured it was some lark.  I was in the middle of a lot of stuff and thought perhaps I had slacked off on my very strict diabetic diet.  (At that point I still kept a daily journal of my diet and reviewing it a few months later with my health care provider showed that in fact, I should have been losing the remaining weight from Ellie's birth.)


I mentioned it to my health care provider at my annual checkup.  She asked me some questions and came up with a list of symptoms including terrible joint pain that had plagued me for some time.  At that point I was taking medication every day just to be able to get through the pain to exercise.  She suspected that I had developed either a thyroid issue or an auto immune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.  She ordered tests and we were all shocked that they all came back negative.


Fast forward a few more months.  The pain continued so bad that by the summer after a life time of faithfully exercising almost everyday, I had to give it up completely.  I also started suffering migraines, which I had been free of for years.


Frustrated, I started doing my own research into the what might be the cause, looking from a more natural perspective.


In October, I went to my allergy and asthma specialist for my annual check up.  She noted that my lymph nodes were unusually enlarged with no other signs of sickness that should have caused it.  She sent me to my GP for more testing.  They were now thinking lymphoma and other scary sounding stuff.  Again, all the tests came back negative.


A little more time passed and I was suffering from exhaustion in addition to everything else I mentioned.  My lymph nodes were not improving, in fact, they were getting worse.  And another odd thing happened.  Within a month or six weeks time, I dropped 40 pounds without even trying.


By Christmas, my husband was seriously concerned and dragged me back to the doctor.  The doctor again said it looked like lymphoma.  I insisted they had already tested for that and it was negative.  He said a lot can change in a few months and let's retest.  So we retested.  And guess what... it was negative again.


In fact, my blood pressure, glucose, iron... everything was perfect.   And yet, here I was in less than the perfect health I should have been at 37 years old.


As I continued in my research, I happened upon Jillian Michael's book Master Your Metabolism.  She described her own struggle with sudden and unexplained symptoms and weight gain that she could not control, no matter what.  And here she was a world renowned fitness trainer.  She discussed her visits to the doctor who could find nothing wrong with her.  Also, a health fanatic, she began digging into her diet and exercise and could find just one thing that wasn't pristine.  She drank diet coke on a daily basis.


And guess what, of the 10 symptoms she suffered, I had nine of them also.  I studied my meal and exercise journal for the last few years with great care.  I immediately gave up my Splenda and stopped taking my two allergy medicines.  These were the only two things I could find that didn't not meet the ideal profile of a healthy lifestyle.  


And guess what?  Within months, I was feeling like myself again.  Out in the yard running with the kids, gardening, dancing, walking, exercising... doing all the things I loved, without pain.  My lymph nodes returned to normal over the next 6 months.  I haven't had a migraine since February of 2010.  Until I got pregnant, my weight returned to its ideal with no effort at all.  I sleep great.  (Well, not right now since I get up to go to the ladies room 5 times a night but you get the idea).


So, in regards to switching to artificial sweeteners in an effort to lose or maintain weight or control diabetes, I have found that I would rather eat a little less of the real stuff and feel great than have two cookies made with Splenda.  And actually, I find myself far more satisfied if I just eat the real stuff anyway.  I just make sure I work it into my diabetic meal plan and take my walk afterward to burn off any extra carbs.


I highly recommend Master Your Metabolism by  Jillian Michaels for anyone who is struggling with weight loss or just not feeling great.  My girl friend who was taking all kinds of medicines for cholesterol issues and like me went from always being slender to struggling with her weight read it and started applying the principles Jillian talks about.  (More organics, less chemicals, better sleeping habits...) She, too, found it got her back to where she should have been with her health and weight.


I will leave you with this food for thought... If I was doing so much else right and suffered so many problems from so little, consider the damage to your health for those who are maintaining a less than ideal diet and exercise lifestyle.


Wishing you all good health,

Kat

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