Pass the Sweeteners, Please

Diabetes , , , 0 Comments

Do you use artificial sweeteners?

Wendy does. In fact, we hadn’t spoken for a couple of weeks; she’d been out of town, caring for her sister who’d just had bariatric surgery. “I’m very proud of myself”, she announced, ”I didn’t touch a single candy while in New York, and no sugar either. Not a single spoonful”.

We’re making progress here.

I was really curious. How on earth had she managed? Her sweet tooth was largely responsible for her diabetes diagnosis. This was someone who went for three-spoonful cups of coffee, sugar on corn flakes, and don’t even get me started on the snacks.

“I presume applause is in order?” “You betcha’, says Wendy. “I quit cold turkey”.

“Tell me, when you were at the hospital, did you leave your sister’s room every now and then to get a cup of coffee?”

“Oh yes, every day. There was a nice coffee shop in the lobby with little round tables, and there were 3 or 4 varieties of sweetener on the tables”.

OK, it’s beginning to make sense now.

I didn’t have to wait for the other shoe to drop.


“Well, I read the packets, and they said there were no calories in them, so I put 3 or 4 in my coffee”.


“And how did you like the taste?”

“Oh, I loved it! It was quite sweet enough, and, best of all, there were no calories”.

Wendy, we gotta talk.

I explained that the brand she had chosen contained a substance that was 600 times sweeter than sugar. The no-sugar claim on the packet actually meant 4 grams of it. (Just a quirk of food labeling—we won’t get into that here. Just that manufacturers are allowed to say ‘no sugar’ if it’s 4 grams or less).

With 3 or 4 packets per cup of coffee, four times a day, we’re talking possibly more sugar than Wendy would have ingested had she used plain, ordinary sugar.

“Omigod! Really?”

“Really”. And shall I tell you what those sweeteners do once they’re in your body?”

“No. I’d rather not know. Just tell me where to go from here”.

“Well, for starters, could we talk about your water intake? Can you fit in a couple of extra glasses on top of the number we worked out for your body weight in August?”

If you’d like to know more about what artificial sweeteners do, just add a comment or question in this blog and I’ll get back to you. Let me know if you want a 25-word reply, a 50-word one, or the whole enchilada at 1000 words.

See you there!


Jacquelyn Johnston M.Ed.
Professional Health Coach and Educator,
Solutions and Support for Optimal Health
Richmond, B.C. Canada