Why I Don’t Like Sneaky Artificial Sweeteners

Why I Don't Like Sneaky Artificial Sweeteners--Real Mom Nutrition

As a surprise to my husband, I upgraded our cable TV last fall during football season. So along with ESPN and HGTV, we were suddenly getting Cartoon Network. And Henry discovered the world of commercials.

I tried to shield him, I really did. I only allowed him to watch a couple of select shows and attempted to block the ads by, well, standing in front of the set. But the boy saw some commercials. And he became totally fixated on Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal. He talked about how good it looked, he pointed it out to me in the grocery store. And I resisted.

Until one day on a trip to the store with baby Sam, when I spotted Total Cinnamon Crunch cereal. I took a quick glance at the Nutrition Facts Panel: four grams of fiber (not bad), nine grams of sugar (just slightly better than Cinnamon Toast Crunch’s 10), and four grams of protein (also not bad). I tossed it in the cart, figuring I could dole it out to Henry as a special snack (and figuring, of course, that I would be his hero).

Well, he was thrilled alright. In fact, he thought it was the real thing and happily ate it as a bedtime snack.

Then one night, I reached over and snagged a handful of dry cereal for myself. And I realized (in that slow-motion action movie “nnnnnnooooooooooo!” kind of way) that something was terribly wrong.

I grabbed the box, scanned down the ingredient list, and found it: Sucralose. Sucralose! I couldn’t believe it. Note to cereal manufacturers: You just don’t go putting artificial sweeteners in breakfast cereal without at least placing a huge red warning label on the front of the box.

Needless to say, I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners. Not just because I think they taste bad, in a chemical kind of way. But also because I secretly worry those six-diet-pops-a-day drinkers may eventually grow an additional arm. And I don’t want my kids, with their tiny developing bodies, ingesting them. I’d rather have Henry eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal every morning with a side of ice cream than snacking on artificial sweeteners.

That’s not to say I caved. I never did buy the real deal. Football season ended, we downgraded our cable, and Henry forgot all about it. But I learned a lesson: Even if the baby is in the grocery cart screeching and shredding your coupon book to bits while horrified customers give you disapproving looks, read the ingredient list carefully. You never know what might be hiding in there.

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  1. Nikki says

    I just stumbled upon your site and read this post this morning.
    I’m SO relieved to hear that someone else thinks just like me with respect to artificial sweeteners! A little of the real stuff is WAY better (in my opinion) that gobs of the fake stuff (stevia included!)!

  2. Kathleen Schwartz says

    Then why did you recommend readers to choose a diet soda when they eat at fast food restaurants in your article entitled “20 Healthy Fast-Food Meals” ( Family Circle magazine April 01, 2011)? Shame on you for even writing an article like this and recommending this type of eating. As a so called educated health expert, I was dismayed to see your recommendations. I feel you need to go beyond your college education and learn more about the true nutrition of REAL FOODS! Try to remember that our ancestors did not eat take out food. Be a responsible consultant and advise people on what is truly beneficial to the human body. If that means you need to educate yourself more, than so be it.

    • says

      Hi Kathleen–I was hired by Family Circle to find 20 fast food meals that were better choices than others on the menu. I took into account several things when comparing menu items, such as calories, saturated/trans fat, sodium, and added sugar. Personally, I don’t eat fast food–but the article is not about me. The premise of the article is that for many people, fast food is an occasional reality–so what’s the best choice? Again, personally I don’t drink diet soda and never have, so I would order water. But many people do drink soda–and even worse, many people drink regular soda. For those people who will order soda and don’t want water, I believe diet soda is a much better option than regular soda, especially if the person is overweight or has diabetes is trying to control blood sugar. I have been a freelance writer for 15 years. I am hired by magazines to write pieces–some of them are my ideas, others are ideas from editors and I am hired to bring them to print. As a reporter, I have to be subjective. That’s why I started this blog: to express my personal opinions. If you read through my posts, I think you’ll see that I’m a big proponent of real food, of eating real food, of feeding kids real food. I hope you’ll stick around and read more.

  3. Kelly Shay says

    I just discovered your website & haven’t had a chance to really look through it. However, THIS post did catch my eye.
    I am 100% against artificial sweeteners. Even for diabetics (but that is a conversation for another time). I am so dismayed over the proliferation of this toxic substance. And it is frustrating that people think it’s ‘healthy”.
    I remember when my daughter was really little, I came home to have the babysitter tell me that she had given her Jello for the 1st time. She was so excited about this, but knew that I would not be. So she quickly added, “it was the sugar free kind”…..UGH!!!
    I promptly told her that if she is going to give her something like that, I would much prefer that she have the regular kind, chock full of sugar!!
    I don’t want my child to have artificial sweeteners…….EVER.
    I was met with that look that your dog gives you when you are talking to him:)
    Not only does the packaging need to have it spelled out in big bold print that said product has artificial sweeteners…… products also need to be labeled that they contain GMO ingredients! ( Again, a conversation for another time) 🙂

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