So, recently I posted on Facebook how I “was totally ruining my perfectly good cup of coffee by forgoing any artificial sweeteners.” You see, the day before I was telling my co-worker about my “4 Splenda a day” habit. (which I thought was perfectly acceptable) She suffers from ulcerative colitis and was horrified I’d put two Splenda in my morning coffee, and then another two at about 3:00 pm. She literally begged me to get off artificial sweeteners. That “you’ll hate your coffee for a few days, but I promise you that you’ll get used to it.”
Sigh… I didn’t want to “get used” to any unsweetened coffee. I LIKED my morning cup just fine! But that said, I tend to get bloating, I tend to have joint pain and I tend to get high and low crashes during the day. Apparently all caused by artificial sweeteners.
I was told to just use regular sugar (turbinado, agave, etc), but I’ve been advised to cut my sugar as much as I can because a) it’s causing me to gain weight around my middle and b) my extended family is diabetic and I’m trying to be cognizant of adding sugar to anything.
So, I posted this on FB and “WOW” the conversations that followed! Apparently this is a very heated topic. But people were great and gave me a ton of suggestions on what to use instead of sweeteners and I’ll give you my feedback on what I tried this week.
Drink: Coffee (usually Starbucks made at home or a Keurig-like coffee in the office)… I use a generous serving of milk, creamer or almond milk.
Now, what I’ve added:
1) Cinnamon: I put a few generous shakes in and stir and stir and stir. Cinnamon is supposedly a natural sweetener and an anti-inflammatory. This is a fine addition.
2) Organic Butter: This is just okay. I used a pat of butter, though Kerrygold was suggested. I just didn’t have that brand handy. It seems fine, a bit fatty and not extremely tasty or sweet enough for me to add this regularly.
3) Coconut Oil: The flavor is good, but I find that it leaves a thick film of paste on my lips and I really don’t like that at all. Reminiscent of dousing my lips with vaseline. It was suggested to use a blender for this addition, but it’s way too much trouble and too loud at 5:30 am.
4) Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice: This is strangely good. My office has a squeezer and fresh oranges available. So, for my afternoon cup, I squeeze in fresh orange juice (sometimes a half, sometimes a whole). It is not bad at all and I may bring in cinnamon to add to this. One note, I find I now do not finish my afternoon cup, either. Now, it sort of sits on my desk and I do a few sips until I finish about half. Interesting.
5) Honey: This is also fine, but gives me a bit of a tea aftertaste. I don’t love it as much.
6) Cayenne Pepper: I added that this morning with my cinnamon. I love spicy food but I don’t quite like it with my coffee. I’m looking for sweet and this gives the exact opposite effect.
So, how has the full week been without sweeteners? Well, I still don’t LOVE and crave my coffee as much as I did, but now I don’t dislike it either. I like cinnamon as my additive of choice.
But, have I noticed anything with my health? Actually… YES!
The Crash: I don’t crash during the day any longer. Usually I’m dying for that 5:30 am cup and the 3:00 pm cup and desperately wanting this weird “rush” each cup gives me. I swear the sweeteners are playing some weird havoc with my body. Now I’m enjoying the coffee, but not getting that odd, hyper feeling each time I drink it.
Joint Pain: 50% of my joint pain has vanished. I was having pain in my hips, knees, sometimes wrists. That is pretty much gone. Oh, I still have aches and pains, but they are seriously cut in half. I was having an Aleve a few times a week. Maybe I took it once this week.
Bloating: It’s lessened. I still have to lose weight, but I got back into a pair of jeans that weren’t fitting me.
Queasiness: Nearly every night at around 10:00 pm I was getting rather queasy and “off.” I attributed it to the long day. The fact is, my stomach would be hurting a bit, my upper stomach would be a bit bloated and I just seemed “off.” That is nearly gone as well. Not completely, but definitely less.
So, my skeptical brain wants to say this is all coincidence, but I don’t think it is. I’m going to keep doing this because if it helps all of these conditions, why wouldn’t I do what’s better for my body, right?
As for my coffee enjoyment, I still have a ways to go, but it’s getting better. I still find I miss that sweet, yummy taste and that rush, but I can handle this just fine.
I’d love to hear other things I should put in to try! Please let me know what YOU use as an alternative to sweeteners. I’d love to hear.