Ok I admit it I am an artificial sweetener junkie… Splenda… Walden Farms… really anything that says ‘sugar free’. I was always so worried about calories that I got dependent on these products, and I hate it. I felt like the more I consumed the more my cravings got out of control. And I’m not alone. What to use to sweeten your food is a popular subject amongst health conscious fitness enthusiasts. We are a society addicted to sugar. You have to be cautious when choosing an alternative though because some may actually be worse for you than the real thing, including some sweeteners that are wildly regarded as ‘healthy’. MSN Health did a fairly good job in assembling a list of the best and worst for your health, which I expand on below.

The Bad: aspartame & sucralose (splenda)

The Good: stevia, sugar alcohols, honey & pure glucose

At the levels I was eating sweeteners my body was straight up toxic. Physically I always felt hungry and swollen. I experienced a significant amount of lupus flares and constantly felt fatigued. Mentally I was anxious, foggy and depressed. These are not characteristic Erika traits. Like mentioned above I was a sweetener junkie. I first eliminated sugar free gum and soda. My cravings were terrible. I then eliminated my precious Walden Farms products. The first week was tough but I stuck to it. Even within the first few days I felt healthier. I had more energy and actually felt full and satisfied after a meal. If the hopeful health benefits dont motivate you to kick sweeteners maybe the scary science will.

The Bad Guys:

1. Aspartame – Aspartame is a chemical composed of three ingredients which are common compounds of many foods that are generally safe for human consumption. But not in the case of aspartame. Aspartame is the ingredient found in NurtaSweet, Equal and many other diet drinks and foods. Aspartame is a bigger public health threat than high fructose corn syrup and can lead to birth defects, cancer and weight gain. Forgetting for a moment that aspartame is metabolized inside your body into both wood alcohol (poison) and formaldehyde (which embalms tissue).

2. Sucralose (splenda) – Sucralose is a synthetic chemical created in a laboratory, like Frankenstein. Consumption of sucralose has been shown to decrease red blood cells, increase male fertility, enlarge and calcify kidneys, contribute to birth defects and increased body fat.

3. Fructose – Fructose is the most toxic natural sugar known to man. However it is really only toxic in high doses. Fructose tricks you body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism as it turns off your body’s appetite-control system, rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and over time leads to insulin resistance.

The Good Guys –

1. Stevia – Stevia is a safe natural plant that has been around for over 1,500 years and is ideal if your watching your weight and it has virtually no calories. I prefer to use it in its liquid form especially in flavors like caramel toffee and vanilla.

2. Honey – High quality honey contains natural anti-oxidants enzymes, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Honey is high in calories to limit your serving sizes and portions.

3. Pure glucose – Although is is safer than sucralose it also is less sweet and very high in calories. I’m my opinion not worth the caloric sucker punch.

The bottom line when it comes to sugar is that virtually all forms will be toxic to your health in the long run. I have eliminated artifical sweenteners from my diet as I have found my body reacts very negatively. I felt anxious, hungry, foggy, bloated, lethargic, slightly depresses and swollen. I started my sugar detox slow. First I eliminated gum and soda. I was a serious gum chewer i.e. 1 pack every two days. And I drank diet soda like it was going out of style. The first few days were challenging. It took me a few days to normal out. the next step was to part from my Walden Farms sugar free products. I love their line of salad dressings, syrups and my ultimate kryptonite dessert spreads. It was crazy after only 4 days I felt much clearer, I actually felt full after a meal, and I felt less anxious.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chick Cookies

2 cans chickpean (rinsed and patted dry)

1/2 cup chocolate PB2

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp butter extract

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or carob chips


1. Rinse and drain the chickpeas and make the PB2.

2. Combine all ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth, then fold in the chips.

3. Form into 24 small balls and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350F.

Macros: calories 55 – fat 1g – carbs 10g – protein 2g

With love from the Trench kitchen,