No More Aspartame for me!

Have you ever wondered about aspartame? The stuff of Nutri-Sweet, myths and legends online and in frenzied emails, thrust at you with the fervor of someone who is sure the world is ending with the sample packets of Phenalalynine raining from the sky.

I used to laugh. I sent along the site. I drank my Diet Coke.

A friend at a board posted the link to a movie called Sweet Misery a few days ago. We had had discussions of the problems with aspartame, but as an avowed fan of Diet Coke for years, I wasn’t about to give up my one sole vice. I am also not a fan of the fear tactics of well-meaning folks who say that if you drink aspartame your head will ‘asplode’.

We’ve been told eggs are dangerous, and then that eggs are all right. That smoking was all right, and now that smoking is dangerous. It seems as though the whims of the nation change, leaving many in the comets tail as it passes by. In all of this changing chaos, Low Carbohydrate Lifestylers fly in the face of a nation who thinks that high-calorie, low-fat diets are the way to live healthfully.

We follow this lifestyle, not because of anecdotal evidence, but because we know the benefits of a largely grain-free, whole foods existence. We can’t afford to be chicken littles, running around crying that the sky is falling. Instead, we provide the blood workups. The cholesterol tests. The empirical evidence which shows health and sustenance on this way of eating. We show, not through sensationalism and screaming from street corners or placards, but with empirical data

People are rational and cogent. Making claims toward Aspartame (the mainstay of many a weight loss plan) should merit no less the same attention to detail, taking into account that scare tactics are no more the answer than lack of actual evidence.

One thing that hasn’t changed is that neurological problems are increasing in this country at an alarming rate. Why? The answers could be in the very substances we are willingly ingesting, when we’re not breathing it (polluted air) or absorbing it (lead).

Research and empirical data are the key when trying to help people to understand. It’s worth the effort to win advocates with knowledge and without fear. This isn’t religion. This is science.

Aspartame is something which has been prone to over-sensalization.

There are a lot of scare tactics out there warning people off of many things.

People should see the film (I believe), do their own research, and then determine for themselves whether there is something to it. It’s like the SuperSize Me film– there is something for everyone, even if people don’t ascribe to everything in the movie.

It’s worth a watch.

Now, I have seen the movie this morning and I have done my own research.

I am not in any way, shape or form, an aspartame fan, but I am an opposer of sensationalism and appeals to emotion and authority (or to peer pressure and fear mongering).

Despite my dislike for anecdotal evidence as the reasoning for anyone to believe anything (especially online), I will appeal for a moment to my own circumstantial evidence.

For several years I have been suffering from facial numbness. It has been a worrisome continuation of numb face, which especially is exacerbated with stress. This has been a relative new occurrence, beginning in 2006.

In 2007, I was given an MRI (a brain scan) because I was encountering odd tingling in my limbs which came and went, but which were increasing in frequency and in discomfort.

Nearing 2008, I was also encountering dizzy spells, tending to fall down for no reason whatsoever, and more recently have been experiencing lapses in the ability to find the words I want to use when speaking or writing. I will often stop for a moment and think about the word I’m looking for, when, years ago, they found me quickly. It was almost as though I was suffering from aftereffects of stroke. Now I find my vision blurred. I will close my eyes and shake my head to ‘right’ myself, but don’t trust myself to drive on various occasions due to this out-of-the-blue anomaly.

Despite being morbidly obese for years, I have been tested for and have been determined to not have diabetes. No stroke, and aside from occasional panic attacks, no cardiac concerns. My blood pressure is normal, and I am not medicated for any infirmities, nor do I take vitamins regularly. I do eat a healthy, whole-foods diet.

I have been an avid consumer of aspartame in Kool-Aid and in Diet Coke, Extra Gum, Jell-O, D-Zerta, and other drink items and food items regularly since 1983, consuming approximately 1-2-liters of the beverages per day (give or take) over the last 25 years.

The MRI showed shadows on my brain, but no absolute evidence of a disease. The doctor is monitoring me for possible signs of multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease many are registering with the FDA.

Again, this is anecdotal. This is my experience.

I look to my research and I now wonder at the number of heightened autism cases which exist in the United States, as an explosion in the last 20 years has prompted more research and acknowledgment of the affliction. Are babies in the womb who are subjected to aspartame turning out to be the new fetal alcohol syndrome kids?

Are my four autistic children this way due to the poisons jumping the blood-brain barrier for years on end while I Diet Coke-d and Extra-Gum’d and Kool-Aid’d my way through pregnancy?

This morning I woke up for the first time in weeks with no dizziness and no facial numbness. This is not somatic compliance. This is fact. I was able to stand up without grabbing onto something. My cheek doesn’t feel as though it is lingering in a Novocaine lap pool. I am astonished, but not surprised.

I am not going to try to convince anyone here that, based on my personal experiences and research that aspartame is a poison. You have to do that research for yourself. I can’t convince you that there have been more brain tumors in the United states in the last 20 years any more than I can convince you that there is or is not snow on the ground in Colorado.

For me, the evidence is compelling.

But you’ll have to find your own evidence.

Need help? Google “neurological problems” and “aspartame.” It’s a beginning.

Meh, Splenda

Since working through the Aspartame situation with research and my own personal journal of physical conditions, I’m having to rethink my positions on Splenda. Will we, in 25 years, be reading a new list of frightening and potential problems?

I ma
y soon be reworking all recipes which call for any artificial sweeteners and replacing them with stevia.

Hello, Stevia

Stevia is basically an herb.
That’s it! With leaves 30 times the potency of sugar, my friend Vesna says a young child she knows calls it a “Lollipop plant”. The leaves can be harvested right from your own garden and used in tea, or dried and ground to make your own sweetener.

Since it is like chives, or oregano, or anything else you can forage as you go, growing it in gardens outside or in, the FDA will probably not be quick to challenge the Splenda and Aspartame industry with this safe alternative.

Stevia can be bitter due to the intensity of it’s potency, so use has to be tempered. A little goes a long way. I ordered Stevia plants this weekend, and am awaiting their arrival. They are tender perennials, which means they will fare better if brought into the home when the weather changes; however, the dark seeds from proven plants can be harvested and new plants can be attempted from these. As well, these plants propagate through cuttings.

Want a good, healthy lemonade recipe for summer using stevia? Check this out

Stay tuned for more stevia recipes. I am going to try to move away from Splenda and towards this natural sweetening herb for cooking, and will probably rework some recipes to the same effect.

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  1. I had a terrible time with vertigo last year which was diagnosed as BPV because a cause couldn’t be found. It began again this year at the same time as last and I tried to find a connection. I decided to write it off as a new side effect to seasonal allergies when I remembered that I go to the same party in March every year and I drink Crystal Lite Pink Lemonade at the party EVERY YEAR. Sometimes buying it myself because it tasted so good at the party.
    Put it all together and the Aspartame in the CL was causing the vertigo. Haven’t had it again.
    I have Splenda (use infrequently), Somersweet and Stevia in my cupboard. I usually use stevia in my iced tea and don’t use the other sweeteners very often at all. If I want something sweet I use sugar-sweetened dark chocolate.
    Dessert recipe link. I made this on Saturday night and it was YUM. (scroll down a bit)

    Great post!

  2. Cleo – you may know about this already, but in case you haven’t heard:

    I think Coke got the word that people want alternatives.

  3. I meant to add in my first comments that because a big name company like Coke and a big name pharmaceutical company are the ones developing this, I don’t think it will take long to see this on the market. Look how easily Monsanto got Nutrasweet past the FDA.

  4. I’ve never found a good Stevia brand that wasn’t too bitter… Let us know if you find one in particular that you really like.

    As for Stevia plants… It’s garden planting time again. I found that both my local Lowes (hardware store) and Walmart have stevia plants. I wasn’t sure how much one plant would produce nor if I’d like it or not. They only cost $2.50 each but I have very limitted garden space. So I bought just one plant to try it out…. Here’s the thing… I don’t know what the heck to do with it. I’ve only tried stevia powder and liquid… Can you give us some pointers on using the real plant?

  5. cleochatra says

    WoW karen! That is scary! I am so glad you found out what the poison was in your system and were able to obliterate it!

    I am so glad to meet a stevia user. I’d never even given it a second thought until recently (and mostly because it’s awfully hard to find in stores)…

    Thank you for the link. I’m going to check it out, and I am so glad you’re feeling better!

  6. cleochatra says

    Terry– That is great information! I am so glad Coke is pulling their heads from their collective rectums. Still, I worry about the store Stevia. Is it really safe? How is it processed? What happens when it is added to the caramel colors and chemicals of Coke?

    Wait. Have I been taken over by the organic fairy? Next I’m going to embrace hummus. *gasp* Someone slap me!

  7. cleochatra says

    Daron– hey!

    I’m told the leaves are very mild.

    My only concern with Wal-Mart and other chains selling Stevia is the potency and sweetness of the plant. some claim that there are some better cultivars than others, and some better plant stock than others. Even the seeds can render different results. I paid twice as much per plant (plus shipping and handling), but I’m thinking I’m wondering what your leaves will be like.

    I’m thinking mail leaf swap taste test!

    And yet, I wonder if the DEA would think we were shipping doob to each other…

    Here is a good site regarding use of the real plant (I’m learning too)

    I’m going to be talking A LOT more about stevia as time goes by. I realize now that I’ve always had a sweet tooth assuaged by aspartame (Diet Coke). I was literally salivating walking by a Diet Coke cooler yesterday.

  8. Barbara says

    Dang….Diet Coke honestly feels like the only vice I have left. I know I should quit, but it’s my “coffee” in the morning. I don’t drink it the rest of the day. And no, I don’t like the Splenda-sweetened versions. Dang. Did I say that already?

    For Daron – I would suggest you try Sweetleaf brand. I’ve been trying to incorporate more Stevia, and fewer chemical sweetners, and have never tasted bitterness in this brand. I believe any health food store would have it, but it’s in our regular grocery store, too (in the health food section)

  9. babykikiyaya says

    I also found myself horribly addicted to diet coke. When I could no longer deny the effects it was having on me (mostly memory loss) I gave it up cold turkey about 7 years ago. I was easily drinking 6-8 a day. It was really hard, but I’m so glad I did it. I do like Stevia. I also use Sweetleaf brand. I haven’t used it to bake though and would love to try. Keep up the great posts please. You are such a huge help and inspiration.

  10. Jen Miller says

    I’m glad you posted something like this! When on my “health” streaks I would drink only water and lemon – my boyfriend is addicted to pop so we tried bringing some diet pop into the house. I would get horrible headaches throughout the day when we had the pop. I’ve been doing some research on artificial sweeteners and noticed a lot of people complained about headaches so last week I decided no more pop. It can’t be that healthy anyway and water is just as good! This morning I had some Splenda in my coffee and am having small traces of a headache once again. So I think I might give Stevia a try. I’ve heard of it before. Now I’m kind of excited because I love Kool-Aid and have been doing the sugar free kind but now I can buy the cheaper packets and add my own kind of sugar!

    I’m not good with plants…I have cats – they eat things. Do you know a good grocery store I can buy Stevia from? I live in northern Denver which happens to not have a Whole Foods and the other health store is 5 miles away.

    Thanks! I love that you’re always posting about things I’ve recently been thinking about 🙂

  11. Erratica says

    Oh, I am so pleased you are giving up the artificial sweeteners, Jamie! Aspartame gives my sister migraines, and used to rev my mother up like speed. I used to use it, but gave it up years ago. Occasionally I’ll have tea with sweet and low (saccharine) in it.

    Stevia can have a bitter aftertaste (that is like that of aspartame and splenda, to me), but after a while, your tastebuds get used to it.

    I’m looking forward to your recipes with stevia. I just bought some DaVinci’s splenda sweetened syrup, tho. I’ll use them to make your oopsie donuts, etc.

    Hooray that you’re feeling better!


  12. Excellent post.

    I have recently began weeding myself off of Splenda, though I do use it now and then. Now I use Stevia, especially in my drinks. One of the benefits I have noticed is a lack of desire in eating desserts. I would make a point almost every-night in eating a low carb dessert.

    There are many brands out there. My suggestion is to find one brand and stick with it.

    If you go to a health food store or supermarket, you will probably first find the Sweetleaf brand. That seems the most available. I have tried it and could not stand it.

    I have also tried NOW Food Stevia Glycerite. It is alright, but it takes a lot to sweeten a drink and the bottle can get quite sticky after a couple of uses.

    I other Stevia brand I have used, and love is NuStevia NoCarb Blend. It is Stevia blended with Erythritol. I also reccomened their SteviaClear product. No bitter taste if used correctly. They also have a Stevia product with maltodextrin, but that has a bitter taste and this is found at places like Whole Foods and GNC. The NoCarb probably has to be ordered online. I recommend iherb for that.

    At some point, I would like to the Stevita Stevia brand. That is highly recommended.

  13. Anonymous says

    Dear Cleochatra,

    You asked, “Are my four autistic children this way due to the poisons jumping the blood-brain barrier for years on end while I Diet Coke-d and Extra-Gum’d and Kool-Aid’d my way through pregnancy?”

    Read this article that has what Dr. Louis Elsas told a Senate Committe on the safety of NutraSweet about the phenylalanine in aspartame quadrupling on the side of the placenta. You already heard what Blaylock had to say in the “Sweet Misery” film.

  14. I want to recommend a cookbook to you: Cooking with Coconut Flour by Bruce Fife. A lot of the sweeter recipes have alternative recipes that include stevia. While I haven’t tried them, I have made the cheese biscuits and they were great – my kids even liked them. I got both the book and the coconut flour from The flour isn’t cheap but you don’t use very much of it in the recipes and it’s very low carb. For instance, the cheese biscuits call for 1/3 cup and it makes 8 biscuits.

  15. 1956okie says

    EGAD, Cleo!! I was just wondering AT LUNCH TIME TODAY why I keep getting this “numb spot” on my cheek every day. And it happens when I chew gum–with Aspartame! I’ve been telling myself that it was from the chewing itself or from stress. Never imagined it might be the GUM. Sheesh! I just spit it in the trash!

    I’m going to give that up and see what happens. Luckily, I don’t eat aspartame much otherwise (prefer tea over diet soda).

    Monsanto. (spits over shoulder) Everything I hear about them scares me…they’ll keep pumping us all full of chemicals, as long as it pumps up their bank accounts!

  16. Anonymous says

    Read Dr. Larry McCleary’s blog on lack of Vitamin D in mother’s and autism here: He is the author of the Brain Trust Program. The incidence of autism is higher in northern climates where we have less sun exposure in winter and thus less vitamin D.

  17. Anonymous says

    I use this liquid stevia from GNC. It has been “de-bittered” and is the only one I care for. I use it to sweeten plain yogurt with various extracts. You can use too much, so you don’t want to go over the suggested dosage on the bottle.–pi-2761102.html


  18. Hey try Slim sweet-lo han sweetner.It come from melons.It is my only sweetner. Splenda anything made me moody and it gave me wicked usual love your blog!!!!


  19. Hi .
    I drink Diet Coke and the only other aspartame I get is from occasional Jello pudding. Other than that I use Splenda or Stevia, If I have too much Splenda I swear I get itchy on my forearms.

  20. I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant 10 years ago, controlled with a low carb diet. Although I can see no damage from it in my son, I was using a fair amount of aspartame products towards the end of the pregnancy. I started buying SF Jello and junk like that then. If there is one thing I wish I could have a “do-over” for, all that fake sugar junk would be it.

    I went back to a LC diet four years ago to lose the 20 pounds I gained in the years after my son was born. I moved away from prepared foods and made more from scratch.

    A year and a half ago I figured out I was still glucose intolerant and pre-diabetic, despite being back a normal weight. I probably was pre-diabetic before I was pregnant, too, but that’s the only time anyone was seriously screening for it. Fasting BG doesn’t catch it early enough.

    Now, our whole family eats LC, and I am mostly using whole foods, somewhat on the paleo side. I get quite a bit of our food straight from the source, such as local “hobby farms” that raise chickens and some livestock, and a CSA program for produce, so I spend very little time or money in grocery stores anymore. It’s nice to be away from all the packaged foods.

    Rather the search for the perfect sweetener substitute for LC desserts & sweet treats, over the past year or two I’ve cut back dramatically on anything with much added sweetness. That reduces craving for sweet stuff. I still add heavy cream to my coffee, but I dropped the sweetener last year. What things I still sweeten, I have complete control over sweetness level.

    I do keep a small amount of Splenda, xylitol, and stevia in the pantry, but I use them very rarely and in very small quantities. I also keep organic cane sugar and Grade B maple syrup, but again, they are used infrequently and in very small amounts. I now avoid the “low-glycemic” agave syrup that is the currently alternative sweetener darling because it is very high in fructose, which is metabolized in the liver (higher in fructose even than table sugar and HFCS!). In high consumption or concentrated amounts (which is not found in nature), fructose raises triglycerides and contributes to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (human foie gras!), like Morgan Spurlock developed drinking all that soda in the movie Super Size Me. Some agave syrup brands are as much as 92% fructose! Despite the marketing hype, I don’t think agave syrup/nectar is a good sugar alternative.

    To give an example of how much I reduce sugar and Splenda compared to typical sweet levels, my homemade ice cream base recipe calls for 3/4 c of sugar and I don’t use more than 1/3 cup, usually less, for a 1-1/2 quart recipe. If a baked custard recipe calls for 1/2 cup sugar, I use a couple TBLs of sugar or Splenda/syrup. That’s a very small dose of sweet anything per serving.

    In other words, while I do use a bit of sugar, Splenda or stevia/xylitol, it is in such small amounts and not all day long, so our tastebuds are essentially retrained to not need so much sweet power to react. Yes, most other people think our desserts aren’t sweet enough, but we love ’em (they are rich and creamy, though). It takes time and consistency to lower sugar to the levels we use, though.

    Everything tastes better, especially vegetables. My son will even eat unsweetened chocolate and raw cocoa beans, which are quite bitter. I won’t guarantee your kids will eat unsweetened chocolate, but I’ll bet they’ll adapt to a lot less sweetener of any sort over time if you consistently reduce the amount and frequency of anything sweet, natural or otherwise.

    It’s hard to cut back on sweeteners with prepared foods and convenience foods. They are just so sweet, even the savory items, like catsup. It’s much easier to control for sweetness if you make food from scratch. For instance, I made your Oopsie’s without any sweetener. I make unsweetened whipped cream. I also like the Fife coconut flour cookbook someone else recommended. I make the butter coconut cookies with the low sugar version (1/2 cup sugar instead of 1 cup) and I don’t bother with the stevia addition to replace the missing sugar. Lately I am even using less than 1/2 cup because the cookies taste too sweet to me now.

    I rarely eat commercially sweetened foods of any kind now because of my hyperglycemia issue and need to keep BG low and steady, but even when I just take a taste, everything is sickeningly sweet to me now and isn’t appealing.

  21. Hummingbird says

    Wow. You go girl!! I’d LOVE to see the film. Where?

    PS: NuNaturals is the only Stevia brand that I find to be UNbitter.

    (is that a word?)

    Can’t wait for your Stevia recipes – YAY! 🙂

  22. cleochatra says

    WOW you guys! I so can;t keep up (and I’m glad).

    Sometimes I like to sit with a glass of iced tea and read what you have to say without running my fingers. I am so moved and saddened by so many of your testimonies.

    The freaky thing is that my face is absolutely great right now. After almost four years of ongoing facial numbness! It is frightening!

    barbara– I SO hear you! I am drinking iced tea right now. It’s too weak, too! BOO! I am going to add more bags to the next batch, but I tell you what– this new iced tea maker I bought from Wal-Mart is AWESOME!

    babykikiyaya–Thank you for the information about Stevia and Sweetleaf! I am looking forward to trying some things. My plants come around June 2! I am going to be the most impatient person EVER.

    Jen– We are like Borg!

    I have not looked for Stevia yet!The paranoia in me says that if it is sold in stores it, too, is processed. I am so mad at companies for selling poisons to the world! Right now, my trust in anything used as a ugar replacement is shaken. I am going to wait for the plants and see what I can do.

    And check some stores, since Daron says he’s seen Stevia sold as plants there!

    I am so glad you did your own research and are feeling well again!

    Erica– oh my gosh! I am so sorry to hear that! I had a good friend years ago who suffered from debilitating migraines. She stopped Diet Coke and migraines stopped. I thought it was the caffeine… I mean, aspartame couldn’t be the culprit… Talk about denial and wishful thinking!

    I returned two bottles of davincis and am bummed about the other 3-4 bottles! LOL I am not sure if I’ll use them, but I hate to toss them. I even had an awesome cheesecake recipe in the works using Splenda! I was SO psyched!

    BLAH! Now I have to scrap the whole thing and begin again. 🙁

    Jorge– THANK YOU so much! That is tremendous to know! You know, I used to claim I didn’t have a sweet tooth, but now I look back and think that’s utter crap. Diet Coke assuaged the sweet tooth. It just never occurred to me. I look forward to the practical and safe use of Stevia, and appreciate so much your taking the time to help educate me about its use and some of the things you’ve noticed. I am really excited!

  23. cleochatra says

    hummingbird– I have Netflix and was able to watch it directly on my computer. I had hubby sit and watch with me. We’re both incredible skeptics and were going to pick the film apart while we sipped Diet Cokes.

    We both ended up both angry and dumping 2 full bottles of soda down the sink.

    Thank you for the recommendation! I will check it out! I did find a recipe for making Stevia liquid sweetener! It calls for some strong hooch though! LOL! I might need to start making moonshine.

    anonymous with the ‘experiment’ link. WORD. I was literally in tears once all of the information finally lined up. If it’s that easy to jump the blood-brain barrier, who’s to say the placenta walls can’t absorb this stuff? Or through nursing. Or the umbilical cord with the other ‘chemicals’. I am sick thinking that I am to blame for my kids and their autism.

    Granted, my husband’s family has a strong autism strain… but I believe aspartame could have taken the possibility for autism and multiplied the chances.

    But, you know– we all want to lose weight while pregnant, right? and what better way than to drink those diet beverages.

    And what a travesty.

    Daron– I am totally jazzed about looking for those plants! (I thought I’d say it again!)

  24. jenna... says

    I was a 2 liter of diet pepsi a day addict from 86 to 94. I decided to stop and did. Glad I did now.

    My nutritionist said that Splenda used up 4 times the amount of chromium in the body then sugar does. You know Chromium the stuff that helps the cells create energy. I couldn’t afford any more lose of energy being hypothyroid. So I pretty much quit splenda.

    Now if you open my cabinet it contains Stevia and WheyLow. You may want to check out 1/4 the cals of sugar and 1/4 the carbs.

    Here’s the best to you. :* PS feel free to steal my avator (LMAO 😀 )

  25. jenna... says

    Oh…. and for you addiction swappers… I swapped my DP adiction for un-sweetened ice tea. I carry it everywhere with me. LOL Love my Mr.IceTea maker.

  26. Anonymous says

    Cleo, I teach anthropology and have long known that low carb is the diet our bodies were meant to consume. As part of my training, I also recognize that the rise in autism must be related to *something* we are doing in utero (rather than in the form of immunizations). Your discussion is both interesting and frightening. Thanks for bringing it up.


    Kudos for you, I have often thought about writing specifically about the evils of sugar. I was once in an antique shop and on one table was a book written around 1942 on the evils of this sweetener. No wonder it used to be locked up in lock box’s. Then to get around the evil of sugar we have allowed ourselves to believe that the food industries would not poison us with unsafe substitute sweeteners. How wrong we were and are! Stevia is a fantastic sweetner I use it all the time. Just make sure its fresh or it doesn’t taste right.

    Great article I agree with everyword.


    Kudos for you, I have often thought about writing specifically about the evils of sugar. I was once in an antique shop and on one table was a book written around 1942 on the evils of this sweetener. No wonder it used to be locked up in lock box’s. Then to get around the evil of sugar we have allowed ourselves to believe that the food industries would not poison us with unsafe substitute sweeteners. How wrong we were and are! Stevia is a fantastic sweetner I use it all the time. Just make sure its fresh or it doesn’t taste right.

    Great article I agree with everyword.

  29. The Mumma says

    i tried stevia but found it had a horrible bitter aftertaste so i changed to Xylitol which sounds like a chemical but its natural ,,it taste almost like sugar and the carbs are really low

  30. The problem that I have with Stevia is not so much bitterness but a faintly metallic taste that I don’t like at all… but I never hear anyone else complain about this, so maybe it’s just me?

    I used to be a huge Splenda fan, but it’s vile in Diet Coke (so I just about never drink it these days, but I still miss it like mad). But Splenda makes my husband nauseated in just about any dose and affects me too if I have enough of it.

    Just drives me crazy, though, because I can’t seem to wean myself off of some sweetener in my tea. I used to have no sympathy at all for people says, I CAN’T give up whatever; I’d laugh contemptuously and say, you mean, you don’t WANT to give up this thing. Well, this seems to be the thing that I can’t give up, or really don’t want to enough, and I can’t seem to find anything other than Nutrasweet or Splenda (probably the lesser of the two evils) that tastes ok to me.

    I think I’ll experiment with the Stevia; the only brand I’ve tried is NuStevia.

  31. Anonymous says

    Here’s a link that tells how to grow/maintain your own stevia plants and how to make your own powdered/liquid stevia.

    I would think it would be difficult to make your own stevia products that will have uniform sweetness each time–each plant would have its own “personality”, so to speak.

  32. Cleo- Jimmie Moores chocolate bars are sweetened with Sweet Perfection can be bought on netrition. I like that one its 95% fiber and yummy. That with slim sweet(lo han,u can get at iherb) are great for baking.
    Cleo- I have two boys whom I homeschool and my youngest is autistic. I often wandered about the soy foods or the splenda sweetened something had during pergnancy had to do with it…who knows…So I understand the frustration. Anyway as hard as it is I just look foward. You hang in there momma!I love your blog!! Keri

  33. jeepifer says

    Hmm, beginning to seriously re-think my family’s Crystal Lite addiction. We give it to the kids all the time, called “juice”, as we didn’t want to give them the real, sugar-filled, kind.

    Methinks I will make the lemonade recipe you listed. Off to pick up lemons and stevia!

  34. Oh, Cleo, I forgot. Agave nectar is good too. It’s low on the glycemic index and doesn’t kick me out of ketosis. It’s good for making ice cream and other desserts. Great for whipped cream. Totally natural.
    I’ve heard that vegetable glycerin is good but I can’t find it.

  35. Danyelle says

    Here’s an FYI – after watching the “Sweet Misery” video on Youtube, I tossed my Extra Sugar-Free Gum and went to the grocery store to look for something to replace it. I read the ingredients on EVERY kind of gum at that store (Extra, Stride, Freedent – all of it, probably 12-14 different brands.) It all had aspartame listed. Even the regular gums like Juicy Fruit and Doublemint. Why put aspartame in a gum with sugar already in it? Very uncool.

    There was only one pack of gum that did not list aspartame. Big Red. So I got some of that. Anyway, I was just really surprised at what I found.

  36. Hey Cleo-

    I guess I should’ve gotten caught up on the RSS feed before commenting. Feel free to answer my query about splenda-free Oopsies here, since more people will probably see it here.

  37. Hey Cleo – I love the dried stevia leaf and I often use it in my yerba mate. It makes a very sweet herb tea. So, I tried boiling the stevia leaf down into a syrup to see if it could be used as a sweetener. Unfortunately it tasted like hay, very sweet hay, but still very grassy. I couldn’t use it for anything.

    I buy a brand called Super Stevia from here – I have the liquid and the powder. It says never bitter – but you can still use too much and it will be a little bitter if you do.

    I tried growing two stevia plants in my front flower bed. They died. Oh well.

  38. Karen Said, “Oh, Cleo, I forgot. Agave nectar is good too.”

    I too am fond of Agave. I especially like blue agave that has been fermented and distilled (ie. tequila).


  39. If anyone is looking for a substitute for Crystal Light type prodcuts, there is stevia sweetened iced tea called “Celestial Zingers To Go” by Celestial Tea. I have seen it in a few stores, including big lots. It is kind of hilarious that this company was recently threatened by the FDA over its use of stevia. As a response, the company removed the label “iced tea mix.” I have not tried it yet, but it is at least a non- artificial sweetener option.

  40. Sweet Pea says

    I’m so happy to hear your comments about Nutrasweet. I’m diabetic and use only Stevia as a sweetener. I’ve tried several and my favorite is Simply Stevia by Stevita. It’s pure Stevia with no fillers.

    It’s so potent all I do is dip about 1/3 of my teaspoon into the jar, tap off the excess and swirl it in my coffee. That sweetens it for me.

    They give free samples at their webiste:
    Click on “free sample” under the Stevia heading

    They also have flavored stevia to mix with water.

    It’d be great to get some recipes using Stevia now!

  41. I wouldn’t get too excited about stevia, either. Some studies are showing it causes male infertility (lowered sperm counts), and I don’t think too many reproductive studies have been done on women. Stevia, where it grows indiginously, has never been used as a refined primary sweetener.

    And what is available as a sweetener here is a refined product.

    Natural doesn’t mean safe. I have learned to drink my coffee black and unsweetened, and on a rare occasion, I use something natural like honey, agave nectar or …sugar.

  42. Yay!! Finally, someone else who doesn’t do the splenda/aspertame thing. I anxiously await your stevia recipes; I either use half the amount of sugar, or don’t make it at all. I figure, as bad as sugar is for low-carbing, its a naturally occurring substance, more than the chemicals of the “artificial” sweeteners.

  43. pinktulips says

    Cleo so glad you wrote about this, it could have been me writing the same thing except substitute Splenda/sucralose for aspartame. I had been using sweet-n-low and drinking diet dr. pepper with no problem. I discovered lcfriends and your oopsie recipes and I changed over to Splenda. Lost 20 lbs and kept getting sicker and sicker, same symptoms as most have posted here. After a brain scan, three MRI’s, numerous bloodwork, 30 day heart monitor and EKG and no answer. I was at the health food store and mentioned my symptoms to owner. She asked if I used Splenda, said my symptoms were exactly those of people whose body’s rejected Splenda/sucralose. She suggested Stevia. I told her I had used it years ago…too bitter. She said it only has a bitter aftertaste if you use too much…very little needed compared to other sweetners. I bought Kal Pure Stevia Extract that has a teeny tiny measuring spoon (like a scant) and it is so good. I quit Splenda completely, surprised how many things sugar-free have Splenda/sucralose in them. All my syptoms are gone. My friend had headaches everyday complaining she only drank Propel water….yes, sweetened with Splenda. When I ate your oopsies I got so dizzy and lightheaded…read others on LCfriends with same problem. They suggested don’t add Splenda, works well without it too. Can’t wait for more of your recipes with Stevia instead of Splenda. Thanks!

  44. dangergirl says

    Hi Jamie:
    Coincidentally, I’ve haven’t been participating on your fab blog lately because of health problems. I was thought to have had Graves’ disease, (which is an aunto-immune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism), but further tests showed I just have an inflammed thyroid. I was doing research on this like a mad woman until my final diagnosis, and time and time again the word ‘ass-pertame’ came up! As long as I’ve been dieting, I have not been able to stomach diet anything until a couple of years ago. Like many others, it’s one of my daily pleasures. I’ve been drinking Walgreens brand of diet drinks, (it’s made with Splenda), but now I think I’ll just bag it altogether. I’m not one to get hysterical either, but this is just too much info for any intelligent person to scoff at. To keep you posted as promised, I had lost 30 lbs since starting Atkins on March 3rd. I went on vacation as pigged out,(as planned), and gained 6 lbs, but I’m back on the wagon and really not missing all the junk food I ate. It really wasn’t as good as I remembered…except the donuts 🙂

  45. RedCairo says
  46. More anecdotal evidence (it all adds up) A few years ago, one of our suppliers (I work in publishing) mentioned that his wife was having problems passing out for no apparent reason, had been tested up the ying yang and nothing had been found, and it was affecting their typesetting business. For no reason than I had been reading about airline pilots and aspartame, I asked if she used artifical sweeteners. Yes, says Harry, she goes through at least two 2L bottles of diet coke a day. I mentioned there might be a connection. Harry told his wife, she quit the diet coke, and the fainting spells disappeared.

    I’m a big fan of erythritol for sweetening. I mix it with liquid sucralose and sodium cyclamate, but lots of people mix it with stevia, which eliminates the aftertaste of both.

  47. Cybil Solyn says

    Cleo – you will really be my LC soul mate if you move over to Stevia and ditch the fake sugars. The hardest part of this WOL for me is my added food restrictions of fake foods (soy allergy) and fake sugars. I moved away from all faux sugars but Stevia (BTW I’ve tasted a bunch and Whole Foods packets of Stevia are the best)in January when I was told that my hip pain might be due to it. Now I have no pain. Hmmm…scary huh?

    It’s been really hard giving up the fake sugar, but I have found other ways. Now I mostly just have a tiny bit of sugar in things if I want them. For example Trader Joe’s has a Pomegranate Green Tea juice that only has 15 carbs (I know more than diet soda, but whatcha gunna do?), and they also carry a natural chewing gum. I use Stevia when I can, but it doesn’t work for everything and almost no one is making premade products with it.

    The only thing I can’t seem to replace without fake sugars are the darned diet sodas! Good thing I gave them up a few years back. Still, I miss them. They were like mothers milk to me as a child – no joke!

    Please keep the blog up and the recipes coming. You really do inspire me!

  48. Wow Cleo, thank you for sharing, I hate the stuff, I’m a big believer in anecdotal evidence especially when its people I know aren’t making this stuff up. Research can be manipulated either way and there’s so many variables it is never able to take in so when applied to real world it doesn’t always match.

    Splenda, I’m so not sure about but at the same time stevia gives me terrible nausea. I have been avoiding artificial sweeteners for four years now since I first fell pregnant with Maya, which means if I ever need something sweet it has to be a small amount of the real thing. That is great and all but I want to go strict low carb again for a little while *sigh*

    I have just started up splenda again the other week so I could experiment with low carb brownies (btw they were very good!) and I made a low carb custard tart which I still need to experiment some more on. I wish I didn’t have a sweet tooth so I could just forgo sweet altogether but I so enjoy sweet… and then there’s the low carb cheesecake I just love to make when strict low carb dieting… what to do…

  49. Anonymous says

    Stevia can cause low blood pressure. I almost collapsed on a hike after I drank a smoothie made with a new brand of protein powder that I hadn’t noticed had stevia in it (probably because I didn’t know what it was at the time.)

    Right now I’m going with small amounts of sucrose. Even 1/4 teaspoon of sugar now makes my coffee too sweet.

  50. Didirina says

    I love NuNaturals debittered stevia. Agave nectar is not the way to go. Even though it is considered low glycemic, it is pure fructose and will jack up your triglycerides.

  51. Crap. I just discovered your blog today & I can already tell that my butt is going to be planted in my office chair for much longer than it needs to be, pouring through your archives!

    I came for the oopsies but this post really speaks to me as well.

    I gave up artificial sweetners at the beginning of this year. We just decided that common sense says that a vat full of chemicals can’t be super great for the body. I was strict at first: no diet sodas/artificial sweetners! But, then I started allowing myself one regular coke per day (thinking corn syrup has got to be better than nutrasweet…I know, I’m weak). Anyway, the moral of the story is that I was surprised to find that even without changing my eating habits or exercize, weight started dropping off. I can only attribute that to the lack of aspartame/splenda. I’m no scientist so I can’t explain it in reasonable terms…just know it happened.

    Since then, we have adopted a lower carb (low GI) way of life, mostly just trying to eat more wholesome foods and get our kids (okay, and US) to eat more veggies. I’m really pleased with the results.

    Anyhoo…just a (long)note to say “hang in there!” And “love your blog” (Now off to add it to my bloglines….)

  52. Oh…one more thing. There’s a good book on this subject “Sweet Poision.” I started reading it earlier this year, but my ADD didn’t let me finish it. lol.

  53. Anonymous says

    I second the NuNaturals Clear Liquid Stevia. I use it all the time. It tastes great and works well with heat. My intake of aspartame is practically nil now. I use stevia and splenda, the equivalent sweetness of about 1 packet a day. I find the longer I low carb (10+ years now), the less sweet I like my desserts to be. I still eat a LC dessert every evening, but it seems I’m making them with less and sweetener as time goes on. For diet soda I’ve started drinking selter with lemon or lime. That dry taste is very pleasant. It replaces the need for soda for me. I guess it’s the “fizz” I really like, and not the sweet, and I never would’ve known that had I not tried the seltzer.

  54. theTRUTH says

    As a former Diet Coke junkie, I tried Diet Coke with Splenda and found it awful. While I would never drink a Diet Pepsi over a Diet Coke, I have found and love Pepsi One: Pepsi’s Splenda based alternative. It isn’t stevia, but if you need a cola, it isn’t aspartame…

  55. I like Truvia brand of stevia. It don't find it bitter, but I use a very small amount at one time.

    I've heard that it was used as a Birth control agent in past times, so I don't like to use it often but I think it is better than any of the alternatives.

    thanks for your post and I sure hope your health improves. I've been lax about avoiding aspartame since I do love a rootbeer now and then and it all has aspartame. I'll be avoiding that for a few weeks to see if the numbness improves.

  56. CookinsForMe says

    I'm so wild about your blog I just can't stand it! And I absolutely can't stand the bitter aftertaste I get with stevia and I've tried so many different brands. And although I have a wicked sweet tooth I just seldom indulge it. There's just no sweetener out there yet that tastes great, isn't bitter, and doesn't spike my blood sugar. Oh wait, there is one, fiber fit. It's pure sucralose but probably as bad for us as Splenda. Once in awhile I'll have something with splenda but not often. It's probably still too much, though. Scary!! Definitely keep us informed on how you're doing.

  57. I too have had horrible experiences with Nutra-sweet, ended up speaking complete sentences backwards, I kid you not, could not remember things, would forget peoples names, and had horrible joint pain and muscle spasms. Went to see a Neurologist and first thing he asks me is, “Do you consume high levels of Nutra-sweet products?” I said yes, He said, “let’s do this first, cut all diet products out except those made with Stevia, including Splenda. Do not have anything, not even gum for 14 days and we will meet again. If you still have problems we will run tests. It did not take 4 days and I was speaking normal again, by weeks end I had my memory back, but the end of 2 weeks no more pain or tingling in muscles…it was a miracle! So I began to think about all the people who are dealing w/this who take tons of medication, children who have learning issues, etc….it is because of these products?? Scary thought.

    • Wow! It is so uncommon for medical professionals to have any clue. I am SO thankful yours did! I wonder the same things you’re wondering and how they’re expanding the scope of aspartame to even more products!

  58. Wonderful blog! I came here for the oopsie rolls as I have had to go gf and sf over the last year. I have adopted xylitol as my sweetener of choice made from birch trees in North America. It is such a great alternative for me and my family. I can bake and cook with it but there are some challenges. It does not caramelize like regular sugar and I usually powder it in my Magic Bullet because it is more difficult to dissolve. I then use it in my recipes about 1 for 1 or even less. The other benefit of xylitol is that it doesn’t cause tooth decay and in fact they are doing and have done studies about how it can prevent bacteria build up. Sounds promising to me. I have tried Stevia but it makes me gag. I am so sensitive to bitter I guess.

    Years ago I read the book, “French Women Don’t Get Fat”. I was totally addicted to Diet Pepsi. She says in the book that people are really addicted to the carbonation and to try to switch to sparkling waters. I did that and was finally released from my addiction. It was amazing and quick. I bought a Soda Stream machine and that was the last I ever had cola. I make my own flavorings now and I can still have my fizzy!


    • I LOVE carbonation. Love love love.

      I also love xylitol. It behaves so marvelously in cooking. It’s like we’re borg!

      I love Canada so much, I even wrote for Parents Canada for awhile as a featured columnist. It was a few years ago, but I have fond memories of the experience.

  59. I know I am late to this topic, but I had to post. xylitol makes me hyper and stevia givesme awful headaches. I try to use sucanat, maple sugar or syrup & honey to sweeten. But, I do use less than 1/2 the sugar in the recipes.


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