Having Type 1 Diabetes makes life difficult. No kidding, right? But seriously, most aspects of life are rendered all the more difficult by the onset of type 1 Diabetes, but the aspect that has always affected me the most is my diet.
Like most men in my family, I love my food. I love baked goods and homemade recipes and having them restricted in any way is torture. That’s why, in the early 1980’s my childhood got a significant moral boost with the advent of aspartame and artificial sweeteners.
My mother had purchased a bottle of liquid NutraSweet and found a recipe for chocolate syrup. It was exciting, because there was no sugar content, besides the bare minimum natural occurring sugars in the recipe, and I could use it to make chocolate milk, add to plain sugar-free vanilla ice cream or make hot chocolate. I drove my mother nuts, because she could barely keep up with my demand.
There’s been a significant number of studies and controversy over the past couple of decades about how safe the use of aspartame may be as a substitute for sugar. Although the jury is still out and nothing has been conclusively proven, some studies have claimed that aspartame causes many side effects ranging from headaches to cancer.
As is my usual habit, let’s start by defining aspartame, shall we? Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is chemically designated as E951. It’s so effective because it stimulates the same parts of the tongue as sugar does, causing us to perceive a sweetness. Aspartame is actually WAY sweeter than sugar (taste-wise), which is why a very small amount is required in order to make something taste sweet.
There are a number of sites that speak out against aspartame use and the supposed side effects it may have on the system, but nothing conclusive has ever been proven. One could venture to say that it falls under the same propaganda as anti-vaxxer disinformation. Granted, it is a chemical. So most people are thrown off and assume it ISN’T a good alternative to sugar.
The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) as well as the WHO (World Health Organization) have deemed aspartame to be safe in certain measured amounts. these amounts have been measured at a significantly higher level than the average person could possibly hope to consume in a day. An article posted by MedicalNewsToday.com indicates that the FDA has deemed aspartame’s acceptable daily intake at 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. this means that you’d have to consume over 19 cans of diet soda in order to exceed that amount (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322266.php#body-weight).
If you’re die-hard against the use of aspartame, healthline.com offers a number of alternatives to the use of aspartame, which include but are not limited to:
- maple syrup
- agave nectar
- fruit juice (not sure how you’d use this one as a sweetner)
- black strap molasses
- stevia leaves.
I’ve tried some of these alternatives, but they should be consumed in limited amounts as they can still contain a lot of calories with no nutritional values. (https://www.healthline.com/health/aspartame-side-effects#natural-alternatives)
The jury’s still out as to whether aspartame is safe or not, so many people choose to eliminate it from their diet. But like most things that are considered a chemical, it’s all about moderate consumption. Hell, beer is a chemical (it’s C2H5OH, by the way) and we consume that! So don’t take everything you read at face value (he says as he types on his written blog). ☯