Weight Gain and Artificial Sweeteners
Weight gain and artificial sweeteners are partners. The promises surrounding artificial sweeteners play into the false sense of reality that accompanies eating disorder thinking. You believe you can eat something sweet, not take in sugar, not take in calories, satisfy your cravings and not gain weight. But that belief is not the reality.
If you have an eating disorder you put thought and energy into how to outwit your body. Your goal is to binge eat or restrict and simultaneously have the body shape and weight you want while feeling good. To do this you avoid or deny solid information about what your body needs to thrive. You become more than vulnerable to promises you hope and believe will prevent weight gain and fulfill your body shape goals. You eagerly embrace false promises.
Diet and experience weight gain instead of weight loss
You eat and throw up or over exercise to prevent weight gain. You may take laxatives in an attempt to purge your body. You may take diet pills to inhibit your appetite, i.e. try to fool your body into not experiencing hunger. And you look for ways to eat, drink and binge without taking in any calories.
I knew a woman who drank four six packs of diet soda a day. She was bulimic and believed that as long as she was drinking the sodas, the carbonation would both satisfy and dull her taste buds, she wouldn’t binge and, because she wasn’t taking in any calories, she would lose weight.
But she continued to binge, gained weight and also developed skin rashes and a sleep disorder. The artificial sweeteners in the drink had a powerful effect on her body.
I remember going to a large Overeaters Anonymous meeting in Los Angeles. In the parking lot, as I got out of my car, I heard many car doors slamming. I looked around and saw at least 20 women, separately striding toward the meeting room door, all carrying a can of diet soda in their hands. They all looked angry, as if they were each in their own private bubble of rage.
Science is bringing us more information about how human beings metabolize what goes into the body. And much that goes into the body today is not food. Sugar substitutes abound. To be governed by eating disorder thinking prevents you from examining the facts about what you are actually putting into your body because you are single-minded about tricking your body into bypassing inevitable weight gain consequences.
See the links below for information about artificial sweeteners and their effect on your weight and your health.
When you take in an artificial sweetener you get a taste of sweet in your mouth. Your brain sends the message to your body that sugar is coming. But the sugar doesn’t arrive. Your body will crave what it was promised and your sugar cravings will increase.
Heavy carbohydrates like breads, crackers, and pasta break down into sugar fast. Your body knows this. So when you crave sugar and take in by eating or drinking what is not sugar your body will insist that real sugar be delivered. You may consume artificial sweeteners, but they will not stop your body's urge to consumer sugar. In fact, your sugar cravings will intensify.
This is one of the reasons artificial sweeteners cause your weight gain. But this fact pops an eating disorder fantasy. Which must end first, the eating disorder fantasy or the artificial sweetener?
Sorting through your feeling and beliefs fundamental to your eating disorder requires outside help. It's difficult or impossible to grope your way to awareness in the dark enveloping grip of the eating disorder. Yet, knowing the fantasy exists, knowing the consuming artificial sweeteners is part of the eating disorder trap may be enough to guide you to seek psychotherapy.
What do you think artificial sweeteners do once they are in your body?
Please share any surprises or new learning you gain from the links below.
Joanna is a psychotherapist in private practice serving California, Arizona, Florida, Utah and Oregon. All appointments are virtual. Serving adults only with a minimum age of 25. Seniors welcome.
Author of Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder.
To schedule a free telephone consultation write:
How Artificial Sweeteners Confuse Your Body into Storing Fat and Inducing Diabetes
*pix "Flowers of sugar cane" by Thamizhpparithi, 26 November 2013 This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.