How did you eliminate artificial sweetner from your diet?
July 10, 2016 10:00 PM   Subscribe

Having read about the negative effects of artificial sweetener on gut and thyroid health, I’m trying to eliminate my usage of Sweet ’n’ Low (the pink packets). If you were able to wean yourself off of artificial sweeteners, how did you do it?

What artificial sweetener did you formerly use, what did you replace it with, and how did you go about doing this?

More specifically, how did you learn to recalibrate your taste buds to accept a different level of sweetness?

I currently take 3 packets of Sweet ’n’ Low every day in my morning coffee (2 cups). I don’t drink soda.

Also, if you switched to something other than brown or white sugar, or regular honey, I’d be very interested in hearing the specific name and brand of whatever that is.

Thanks in advance.
posted by invisible ink to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've done diet coke and the pink packets in my coffee. I am currently off artificial sweetners.

I quit cold turkey. I buy good coffee and add half and half. After about five days the craving for sweetness stops. After about three weeks the pink stuff would seem sickeningly sweet (in my experience) and it really loses its appeal. However, I've gotten readdicted after a few days of picking up either habit again due to travel/availability of bad coffee and no cream etc. I really do feel better without the fake sweetner though.
posted by Kalmya at 10:05 PM on July 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also: I buy wide awake columbian coffee. It's relatively cheap (for better coffee )and I really like it with half and half. But a coffee you like is a really personal thing, and I don't think my coffee choice is the best.
posted by Kalmya at 10:08 PM on July 10, 2016

Best answer: If the only place you're using it is coffee, have you tried cold press coffee? It has less acid, so you might need less sweetener.
posted by Candleman at 10:17 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Heavy whipping cream.
posted by michaelh at 10:20 PM on July 10, 2016 [6 favorites]

I generally put a bit of sugar in my coffee when I drink it with half and half, but for some reason when I put Trader Joes Soy Creamer in it, it tastes fine without any added sugar. The creamer only has 1 gram of sugar per tablespoon (a tiny amount) according to the nutritional info on the packaging.

I second that heavier cream and better coffee decrease the need for sweetener.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:29 PM on July 10, 2016

How about Stevia? I use the pure stevia in powder form and I find it satisfying in coffee (but not in much else). I'm not sure its effects on gut health, but I think it is better. I buy the Trader Joe's powdered version.
posted by mrfuga0 at 10:38 PM on July 10, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: The problem with Sweet & Low and other artificial sweeteners is that they taste sweeter than natural sugars, so attempts to replace them with the natural alternatives just makes you miss the packets even more. I think it's much easier to go cold turkey then switch to natural sweeteners after a cooling off period of a couple of weeks or so.

Personally, I was able to stop using any sweetener at all when I started making non-shitty coffee. Aeropress inversion method, correct temperature, filtered water, decent but not decadent beans right from the grocery store. I drink my coffee black. The only time I sweeten my coffee now is when I visit people who still use regular coffee pots and buy Folgers in Sam's Club sized containers.
posted by xyzzy at 10:57 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Like salt, just quit and your taste buds adjust. I've barely used any sweeteners for years, but have honey for those times I want some. Stevia is a good option, but I don't even bother to keep it around much any more.
posted by bongo_x at 11:12 PM on July 10, 2016

I second using Stevia (a sweetener extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana).
posted by qsysopr at 11:14 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Any reason you're rejecting real sugar? (The mice that consumed glucose or sucrose in that Israeli experiment were fine. Antibodies were found in Hashimoto's sufferers who drank stuff with Aspartame, but there was no mention of the rest avoiding real sugar, and I kind of doubt they did.) If the sugar you're adding to things is limited to this morning coffee, and you're not e.g. having sweets or many things with added sugar through the day, you're probably ok. (I dislike Stevia immensely because of its bitter aftertaste; so do lots of others. I do sugar, just in my coffee.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:55 PM on July 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I used to use the yellow packets; now I use stevia. And if you're gonna go for heavy cream, try to find some from Promised Land. It's soooo much better than the others. (Costco sells it in quart size bottles if you can't find it anywhere else. Freeze it in ice cube trays so it doesn't spoil before you use it all.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:02 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Cold turkey was the way for me. I used to have so much sugar in my morning tea. Took a few months to adjust but now i cannot drink tea with sugar in it at all anymore. Tastes almost sickly to me now.

Bite the bullet and you will never look back!
posted by jenjen23 at 2:51 AM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I used to have my tea with a sweetener (tablet) for years and years. Then I stopped, all at once, on the day I made an important life change. It was easy for me to think 'I don't do that anymore; that was part of my old life'. Also I instantly got the small but real benefit of not needing to bring sweeteners or look for them whenever I had tea elsewhere. I like camping and I don't carry a purse; two reasons why it's nice to have one fewer thing to bring.

After a week, it was fine; after two, I positively liked it better than tea with sugar or sweeteners. Now I simply don't enjoy sweetened tea anymore.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:17 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding Candleman's suggestion of cold brew coffee. You can heat it up by adding hot water.

Have you tried playing around with different coffee roasts? Most coffee I can't handle without a lot of sugar, but every now and again I go to a place where the coffee is not just drinkable, but yummy. Seattle is great for coffee roast testing (the Starbucks roastery is fantastic - go to the bar area and in the back and the baristas can help guide you. And many other cities have those Starbuck coffee bars. There are also other amazing coffee shops if you are not a fan of the 'bucks.). Darwins Coffee in Central Square is also good. Really, any third wave/hipster coffee shop is a good place to start trying things out.

In the process of the switch over, you could try drinking smaller cups of coffee, and supplementing any caffeine need with tea.
posted by troytroy at 4:41 AM on July 11, 2016

For a few weeks I was frothing coconut oil into my coffee. It has its own sweet quality that let me go cold turkey on sugar. Then when I was used to that, I ended up switching to cream and then eventually just milk.
posted by wyzewoman at 5:43 AM on July 11, 2016

Tea drinker - I'm in the process of weaning myself off of the pink packets. I've found that honey helps with what I perceive to be the sweet flavor accent I'm looking for (Earl Grey, fwiw). Soda was a cold turkey quit earlier this year and I really don't miss it.
posted by librarianamy at 6:04 AM on July 11, 2016

Start cutting back half a packet at a time. A week at two and a half packets, then try two andare how it goes. Taper off, I've found it easier than quitting cold turkey.
posted by lydhre at 6:28 AM on July 11, 2016

I think you have to quit cold turkey. The first couple of weeks (maybe 3?) will suck. But after that you won't miss it.

I gave up artificial sweeteners (in soda--which I gave up completely, on cut fruit and in coffee) about 8 years ago. In coffee, I switched to a different type of coffee (lighter roast) so that the coffee itself also tasted different. For fruit, I just stopped eating it completely for a while. And for soda, I went cold turkey. After about a month, I started eating fruit again and was surprised by how sweet it tasted without sweetener. For coffee, it just started to taste ok after about 3 weeks.
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:29 AM on July 11, 2016

Best answer: I don't eat any artificial sweetener (because i'm allergic to it) and I dropped sugar a year ago.

This is literally a matter of taste, so who knows what will work for you.

I find the way around it is primarily quality of goods and learning to appreciate what I'm eating and drinking for it's own sake. Bitter, cold, tart, savory, exploring other flavors.

If sugar and sweeteners are the heroin and oxy of taste, it's not easy to stop eating them, I found I needed to go cold turkey at first. When I did everything else starting tasting amazing and interesting. After about 4 months I put sugar back in, and it was like relapsing, everything not-sugar tasted like grass clippings again almost immediately.

Now black coffee is interesting and when I have fruit, it blows my mind. I've lost 60 pounds since saying goodbye to both as well*

* not that you or anyone in general needs to lose weight. I did, and this was an easy way to do it.
posted by French Fry at 6:33 AM on July 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Cold turkey did it for me. I started taking my coffee black, and told myself that I liked it that way until it became true. I switched from diet soda to sugared soda and then to seltzer or unsweetened iced tea. This also required some conscious effort to retrain my taste buds, but it also worked.
posted by Zonker at 6:43 AM on July 11, 2016

I've mostly quit sweets in my diet (artificial and otherwise) and have been successful by targeting X number of days a week to not have sweets. This gives me a couple cheat days and an incentive for making it an entire day without sweets as well as strategically using the sweet day(s) for when I know parties, etc. are coming.

I started with 2 days per week and have ramped it up to 4, though I usually do 6 to 7 days if I am not on vacation or have some other interruption of my usual schedule. Knowing I can cheat makes me much more likely to stick with it than if I tried 100% cold turkey. Based on your own personal psychology, YMMV.
posted by chiefthe at 6:52 AM on July 11, 2016

If you have trouble drinking coffee without sweetener, wait and don't drink coffee until about 1-2 hours after you usually start. You will probably start to get caffeine withdrawal - once I'm at that point, and even terrible quality coffee tastes delicious.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:58 AM on July 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seconding that soy milk and almond milk (the plain kind, not flavored) are naturally sweeter than cow's milk so they might help you wean.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:24 AM on July 11, 2016

I find that using a plant-based milk did the trick for me. Even if you get light, original style of soy milk, it tends to be sweet enough for my tastes. I'm experimenting with cold-brew right now but haven't noticed a huge difference so far.

In my experience, you need to cut artificial sweeteners out all-at-once for the habit to stick. I had weird cravings for a while when I went cold turkey. Once I got over the hump, the taste of artificial sweeteners made me cough due to the extreme sweetness - to the point I couldn't believe I actually preferred them in the first place.

Good luck.
posted by TofuGolem at 9:04 AM on July 11, 2016

About a year ago I cut out all added sweeteners from my diet (except in rare cases).
I don't drink coffee, so for a while I switched from a shit ton of diet soda per day to an afternoon hot green tea, but I kept forgetting to get that so caffeine has fallen by the wayside as well (I know! Software engineering without caffeine is unpossible, right?).

It was surprisingly easy to make that change and your tastebuds recalibrate pretty quickly.
posted by plinth at 9:30 AM on July 11, 2016

Best answer: Nthing cold turkey. All sweeteners keep you hooked on sugar. In addition, when you stop adding any sweeteners, you'd be amazed how many other flavors that are masked by sugar (and salt, another popular and unhealthy additive to so many foods) emerge. You'll also start picking up the natural sweetness of things like fruit and fresh vegetables.

Try six weeks free of all added sweeteners, of any sort. It is shocking how many other flavors you'll be enjoying by then.

For coffee in particular, I'd suggest focusing on the wonderful bitterness and richness of unsweetened brewed coffee. And treat yourself to top quality unsweetened coffee, to sort of point out to yourself this is not deprivation.
posted by bearwife at 10:38 AM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I think I will try going cold turkey, and switching to a better method of making coffee (currently, I use Starbucks VIA). I am definitely not anti-sugar, sorry if that was unclear. With the ubiquity of natural sweeteners out there, I was just trying to nail down specific brand names.

I tried stevia and for better or worse, it didn't go well. Something just Maybe that's a sign of my overuse of saccharin, so I will look into the brands mentioned above.

I am unfortunately lactose-intolerant, so whipping cream is a no-go:(
posted by invisible ink at 12:58 PM on July 11, 2016

If you're pro-sugar pretty much all sugar types are close to identical nutritionally. So agave, honey, sugar, molasses, coconut flower nectar?? Mostly just cost different amounts :)

Find the one that tastes the best to you and use that.
posted by French Fry at 10:51 AM on July 13, 2016

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