South Beach Diet - Is Splenda Splendid?

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03-16-2009, 08:47 PM
How's that for a title? :D

My MIL and I were talking about how much Splenda we actually consume. Between sweetening tea, coffee, yogurt, and snacks, I imagine I eat about 1/2 a cup a day -- easily. MIL said it's better than eating 1/2 cup of sugar a day. Probably so. But, it can't be good for a body. What are your thoughts?

The thought of quitting.... :eek:

03-16-2009, 09:02 PM
I try to avoid splenda, and whenever possible I sub agave nectar or stevia.

I've found that agave sweetens coffee, yogurt and hot tea really well. I love it in coffee -- it has a light sweetness.

When I make a ricotta creme, I sprinkle in a bit of stevia instead of splenda. Sometimes it takes a bit of experimenting to figure out how much to add.

03-16-2009, 09:25 PM
I've never had agave nectar. Isn't it like honey? Isn't it real sugar? Where do you buy it?

03-16-2009, 09:27 PM
I know there's a lot of controversy regarding the safeness of Splenda, but at least it's approved as safe by the FDA.
The jury is still out on how safe Stevia is for you. Until it gets FDA approval, I'm going to avoid it. Splenda is bad enough.
I use agave nectar in a lot of things, but I don't like the fact that it has 30 calories per tablespoon.
I guess we all have to choose our poison.


Chelby, agave nectar is very similar to honey, but has a very low GI rating, so you avoid the sugar highs that you'd get from real sugar. It's ideal for people with diabetes to use as a sweetener. You can usually find it in the natural foods aisle in your grocery store.

03-16-2009, 11:25 PM
Half a cup a day??? It can't be. I was feeling nervous about a half envelope a day.

Really, Chelby, something in you wants the taste of sweet. I don't like that taste so I can't relate to what that might feel like, but I'd try to get into the groove of savory over sweet.

A sip of orange juice is too much for me. I can't even fathom what sweetened yogurt must taste like.

Savory. I vote for savory!

03-17-2009, 12:52 AM
I know there's a lot of controversy regarding the safeness of Splenda, but at least it's approved as safe by the FDA.
The jury is still out on how safe Stevia is for you. Until it gets FDA approval, I'm going to avoid it. Splenda is bad enough.

I trust mother nature over the FDA. IMO, lobbyists make the FDA's decisions, not scientists. I'd rather use stevia since it's a plant, but it is a medicinal herb so studies do need to be done about how much is too much. I don't find stevia palatable though, it's too bitter.

Any sweetener (artificial or not) is bad in those quantities, regardless of the studies and your own personal beliefs. Moderation in all things!

I'm another fan of agave, but I wouldn't suggest you consume 1/2 cup a day. Why not try drinking your coffee without or with less sweetener (high quality coffee tastes better and you need less sweetener), your yogurt plain, and limit the sweet snacks? I know that might sound terrible, but your taste buds will get used to it.

03-17-2009, 01:11 AM
Mother nature also produces hemlock and belladonna. Aside from herbal poisons, many natural compounds we thought were safe, because of historical use were later banned or controlled because of concerns of safety and/or abuse potential (ephedra comes to mind).

There are a couple concerns stevia. Firstly, where stevia has been used traditionally, it has not been used in the quantities that sweeteners are often used in the US. Secondly, there have been several studies that raise concerns that stevia can cause birth defects and reproductive issues (these have been rodent studies, not human trials).

Understanding the research review process, I do trust the FDA over herbal products used in ways that are historically unprecedented.

03-17-2009, 07:48 AM
I thought stevia was approved now and that's why it's showing up in grocery stores.

I did write a longer post last night but it disappeared into the ether. I rarely use splenda because there have been enough reports of problems that I'm not going to risk it (every few weeks I just really want a latte with caramel syrup). I'm also one of those people who can't go near MSG or aspartame (both FDA approved) because of headaches. I avoid almost all sugar alcohols (FDA approved) because of severe stomach cramps from just one serving.

When I want sweet I use either agave (sparingly, it is calorie dense) or erythritol. However I just don't use much added sweetener and that helps a lot.I add dried fruit to hot cereal, applesauce to yogurt and cottage cheese, and drink my coffee and tea black. My brain seems to equate all added sweeteners, so too many sweet treats make me crave. Sadly too many for me is more than one or two small things a week.

03-17-2009, 08:17 AM
Artificial sweeteners make me want real sugar so I avoid as much as possible. I think using them on Phase I is counterproductive and just keep the cravings going.
Just my opinion.

03-17-2009, 10:41 AM
Half a cup a day??? It can't be. I was feeling nervous about a half envelope a day.

Really, Chelby, something in you wants the taste of sweet. I don't like that taste so I can't relate to what that might feel like, but I'd try to get into the groove of savory over sweet.

A sip of orange juice is too much for me. I can't even fathom what sweetened yogurt must taste like.

Savory. I vote for savory!

When I was a kid, Mom would give my sister and me money for a treat. I'd get a candy bar; She'd get a beef jerky. She's 4'11" and weighs 102 pounds. She still prefers savory over sweet. I'd rather have cake than anything! Hence, my weight problem.

I'm going to make an effort to cut the Splenda dramatically. This morning, I had only a teaspoon of Splenda in my tea instead of close to a tablespoon. I'll let you know if it makes a difference.

03-17-2009, 11:45 AM
Cyn does erythritol have any side effects? xylitol sends me right to the bathroom and bloats me like a thanksgiving parade balloon

little chick
03-17-2009, 01:00 PM
Is splenda better than aspertame?

03-17-2009, 01:20 PM
Little Chick, It tastes better, IMO.

03-17-2009, 10:07 PM
I think when I researched it, splenda is one step away from a pesticide. I really don't trust any kind of artificial sweetener, I think I got that from my mom. The only thing I eat with Splenda in it (is it splenda? or something else?) is pancake syrup...maybe once every couple weeks. Now that I'm on maintenance, I eat real sugar in moderation. (oh, and I'll have a SF caramel latte...but that's maybe once every 1-2 months).

I'm just afraid they'll find out one day what it can do. And my children are strictly prohibited from having it.

03-17-2009, 10:43 PM
KO - I've never had trouble with it but I do use it in small amounts, mostly oatmeal and chai :) I keep planning to bake with it but I never get around to it.

03-18-2009, 12:07 AM

You blew my mind with the beef jerky thing.

Girl, learn to love savory. However, if you absolutely MUST have the sweet, then go for the sugar. It's the real thing!

At 16 calories a teaspoon, all you'll have to worry about is restraint. And not funny things growing out of your body.

03-18-2009, 12:12 AM
better yet, if we're going to have sugar - let's have unprocessed, real sugar. Muscovado, brown rice syrup, real maple syrup...

03-18-2009, 12:24 AM
Zeff is right (although she's messing with my head about the whole POW thing).

Go with the real deal, Chelby.

Bag the Splenda and all the rest. At half cup a day, you're doing more harm than good.

You're too cool to lose.

03-18-2009, 10:49 AM
I understand what many of you are trying to say about sugar being more natural and/or safer than the artificial sweeteners. However, that's not what South Beach says--on South Beach, we are asked to avoid sugar, but sugar substitutes are allowed, in small quantities. I just want to clarify that in case we have some newbies among us reading this and they get confused. Each person has to decide what they want or don't want to put in their body and what does or doesn't cause cravings in them. However, I find it hard to believe that anyone who replaced 1/2 cup of Splenda a day with 1/2 cup of sugar a day wouldn't end up with massive cravings and delete any help that Phase 1 gave them. :shrug:

For those of us who have a serious sugar addiction :wave: sugar is a poison. While I respect and understand the issues many of you have with artificial sweeteners, please be aware that for many of us (myself included), any possible side effects from sweetener usage are much less likely to kill or sicken us than the side effects of sugar. When I eat sugar, I'm extremely overweight, depressed, and never exercise. When I stay away from sugar, I'm in a very different, much healthier place. It's hard for me to do that without the judicious use of artificial sweeteners. Period. So, for me (and for many others), artificial sweeteners are a necessary evil.

That doesn't mean that we don't do what we can to moderate the side effects. We try not to consume more than necessary (like having cottage cheese with unsweetened applesauce, which is sweet enough!). We look into more natural sweetening options (I'm having yogurt for snack which I sweetened with vanilla-flavored stevia liquid). And, overall, we try to sweeten things less and modify our taste towards less of an inclination for the sweet.

Please try to understand this point of view and don't automatically assume that artificial sweeteners are worse than sugar for everyone. Okay? :)

Some other points:

Yes, Stevia is approved by the FDA as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). Here's a quote:

2009 JAN 4 - ( -- Whole Earth Sweetener Company LLC and PepsiCo announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a no objection letter with respect to Rebaudioside A (Reb A), the stevia extract used in PureVia(TM), the companies' all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener.

To view the Multimedia News Release, go to:

This response indicates the FDA has no objection to the conclusion that Reb A is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) among qualified experts for use in beverages, foods and tabletop sweeteners. It also makes possible the launch of PureVia(TM) tabletop sweetener, zero-calorie SoBe Lifewater and Trop 50, Tropicana's new light orange juice product. This news will be sweet music to the ears -- and waistlines -- of U.S. consumers looking for more natural, low-calorie choices.

Here are some articles about Stevia:
A good overview of the status of Stevia in countries around the world, along with links to more information from various sources. (

However, as Cottage and Kaplods mentioned, there are concerns about Stevia. Though it has been used in Japan for 30 years without side effects, they aren't using large amounts. Here, it would quite possibly be different--as they said in an article I read, "in America we like to go to extremes." What happens when you take in a lot of Stevia? No one really knows yet. Here are some of the concerns, as noted in an article ( the Center for Science in the Public Interest ( cancer one underscores Kaplods's point about many natural things, such as hemlock, being detrimental to our health):

Reproductive problems. Stevioside “seems to affect the male reproductive organ system,” European scientists concluded last year. When male rats were fed high doses of stevioside for 22 months, sperm production was reduced, the weight of seminal vesicles (which produce seminal fluid) declined, and there was an increase in cell proliferation in their testicles, which could cause infertility or other problems.1 And when female hamsters were fed large amounts of a derivative of stevioside called steviol, they had fewer and smaller offspring.2 Would small amounts of stevia also cause reproductive problems? No one knows.

Cancer. In the laboratory, steviol can be converted into a mutagenic compound, which may promote cancer by causing mutations in the cells’ genetic material (DNA). “We don’t know if the conversion of stevioside to steviol to a mutagen happens in humans,” says Huxtable. “It’s probably a minor issue, but it clearly needs to be resolved.”

Energy metabolism. Very large amounts of stevioside can interfere with the absorption of carbohydrates in animals and disrupt the conversion of food into energy within cells. “This may be of particular concern for children,” says Huxtable.

The bottom line: If you use stevia sparingly (once or twice a day in a cup of tea, for example), it isn’t a great threat to you. But if stevia were marketed widely and used in diet sodas, it would be consumed by millions of people. And that might pose a public health threat.

As for the "Splenda is one molecule away from..." argument, Twynn--that's really not something worth thinking or worrying about. It's a nonsensical argument used to scare people (it's used for all sorts of things...I think the most famous one is that margarine is one molecule away from plastic--which isn't at all true) Many, many healthy things are one molecule different from something very unhealthy. Here are a few:

Water is "one molecule away" from being explosive hydrogen gas.
It's also one molecule away from formaldehyde (CH2O).
Carbon monoxide is only one atom different from oxygen.

I think this sums it up (not that I think the website from which it comes ( the best idea...holy trans fats, Batman!):
Substances are made of molecules, which in turn are composed of atoms joined together in a specific pattern. I suppose one might say that hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, is one atom away from water, H2O, but even this is meaningless. That extra oxygen atom changes the properties of the substance dramatically. Stick your finger into a bottle of pure hydrogen peroxide and you will quickly experience the effect of that extra oxygen.

03-18-2009, 11:17 AM
Thank you Laurie. You are a very smart lady. :) I can't eat a little sugar either, because it makes me want LOTS. My concern with Splenda is the fact that I actually measure it in my drinks, so see how much I'm using. I bet most 'dieters' use more than they think (any artificial sweetener). How much is in a Diet Coke? How much is in cups of yogurt? I don't know because I don't measure it and add it.

For the past two days, I've cut down on my Splenda consumption by half. Not ready to give it up completely. My world would be sad with nothing sweet. ;)

03-18-2009, 11:26 AM
Chelby I think measuring is smart. I like unsweetened things because then I know exactly what and how much I'm adding. We each need to figure out what works for us. I know there are even people on 3FC who like and use aspartame. All I can really know is how my body reacts to things, read the research, and make my own choices. For me fruit is the best sweetener and the one I use most. I might just experiment with powdered dry fruit. Hmm, a new project to try :)

03-18-2009, 11:48 AM
I make my own unsweetened dried fruit and know exactly how many slices equal an apple (or pear or peach). I think (I'm too lazy to check!) we can have unsweetened dried fruit except the high GI things like dates and prunes.

ETA - okay, just looked and I am remembering right :)

03-18-2009, 02:18 PM
:thanks: Chelby! I've learned so much from the chicks here at 3FC!

Thanks for looking it up, Cyndi! You're awesome! Dried fruit is fine, as long as it's unsweetened. I even tried prunes after my nutritionist asked me to eat them, and I found that as long as I ate them with protein, they didn't bother me at all. Must be all the fiber in 'em that slows down the sugar release! Dates are another story, but sometimes they are okay for me, too. Raisins can be used in small amounts. Just make sure the dried fruit isn't sweetened. :D I especially love the "Crunchers" brand of freeze-dried fruit. It's unsweetened and, as the name implies, crunchy! :love:

03-18-2009, 03:17 PM
I love LOVE LOVE Prunes
but aside from that atm I'm drinking Crystal light in an effort to swill more water. To keep the sweetness and indeed my scary crap consuming at bay
I took the 2 quart powder and made almost a gallon. . .for me thats sweet enough!
I do notice after eating too many "sweet" things for a few days I become the cookie monster. . .Moderation! new mantra

03-18-2009, 03:23 PM
I have the moderation problem with prunes. I love them, especially the orange ones! Even with all the fiber I eat (usually 40 - 50 g a day) too many prunes make my belly unhappy. I can only keep them around in single serving packs. I hate the waste but need external controls. I also found 100 calorie packs of almonds (yeah, that's about 8) which I keep in my drawer at work. I wonder if I will ever develop "normal" self control?

03-19-2009, 04:13 PM
I copied the dried fruit posts from this thread into a separate thread ( If you have a comment to make about dried fruit, could you please post it there? I think it's an important discussion, but I don't want to take us off topic on this one. :) :thanks:

03-20-2009, 02:58 AM
Hey first let me just say not all lobbyists are bad!

1/2 cup? Really? I only use Splenda in my coffee (1 packet per cup) and then in iced tea if I have that. I "sweeten" yogurt with fruit in the AM...

LOL Laurie -- now I see why this flashed up!

03-20-2009, 10:04 AM
Something you may not know. The Splenda that is sold in 1 pound packages is different than the Splenda sold in individual packets. The packets of splenda is more concentrated. If you don't believe me, make two different 1/2 gallon containers of iced tea using 1/2 cup of Splenda in each. 1/2 cup of individual splenda packets will make your eyes pop out! I use the 1 pound bags of the measurable splenda.