Friday, January 29, 2010

Bootcamp Q & A

The 411 on Artificial Sweeteners

Q: I use three packets of Equal in my morning coffee (it's a big cup), and I'm a mess at work without putting away can after can of Diet Coke. Are sugar substitutes allowed on the Bridal Bootcamp plan? Please say yes!

A: You're not going to like what I have to say — but you'll thank me for it in the long run. To put it lightly, artificial sweeteners are not ideal. They're okay in moderation, as long as you choose the right ones. I say no to aspartame, the sweetener found in NutraSweet and Equal (and your beloved Diet Coke). Splenda, which contains Sucralose, is okay when you absolutely need a sweetener and there are no natural options available (say if you're out to dinner).

Your best choices, however, are natural sweeteners like stevia, a sweet leaf and herb, which can be found in health-food stores; honey — although it's higher in calories than sugar, a little bit goes a long way; or maple syrup, which contains B vitamins and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and iron. You can also try brown-rice syrup, barley malt, oragave nectar.

But the way you're guzzling your soda and coffee sounds like more than "moderation." Try to wean yourself off artificially sweetened beverages, even those with the approved sweeteners. Instead, drink club soda, water flavored with lemon, or unsweetened ice tea. Remember, water is the best, most natural, and most inexpensive drink. So drink up — it will do your body good!

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