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Sugar Shakedown Week 2 - Beverages

Posted: February 17, 2018
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Picture this - A beautiful sunny day, not a cloud in the sky, and you are sitting on your back porch staring out at the mountains. Your lovely children play peacefully in the sprinklers, laughing, shrieking and running (did we mention they were playing peacefully) and in your hand you have a tall glass of lemonade, sweet and tasting of summer.

Okay, just kidding! 😂 It’s the middle of winter, the kids are fighting and throwing things at each other, you have been cooped up in your house for the past 943 days and all you want is a Pumpkin Spice Latte! You drag everyone kicking and screaming to the car and you drive to the nearest coffee shop to sit in line. You can almost taste the sweet, hot coffee and this small treat will surely pull you out of the winter blahs…Especially since you plan to ask for extra whip cream…maybe a caramel drizzle?!? 🤔 

Let’s take a closer look at this one drink example, and think about what we are putting into our bodies. This information comes straight from the Starbucks website:

In a standard Grande (16oz) Pumpkin Spice Latte with whipped cream, there are 50g of carbs. That number is equivalent to 3 red potatoes, 2 slices of Dave’s killer bread, 2 bananas, or a REALLY huge heap of spaghetti squash. Those carbs could be turned into something useful to fuel your body. But this drink? Every gram of carb comes straight from SUGAR. Keep in mind, it is recommended we do not consume more than 25g in an entire day. Take off the whip, and you still consume 48g of sugar.

You are going to drink this 50g of sugar, and NOT feel so great immediately after. In about 20 minutes, you will also need to eat some real food, which means that by the end of the day, you will probably end up overeating by 380 calories (the amount in my your PSL).

So how should I be drinking my coffee?

For the next 5 weeks {and beyond}, you should be drinking it unsweetened. Most likely in 5 weeks your taste buds will adapt to unsweetened drinks--they likely have already started changing from the elimination of sweet treats this past week--and those sugarfied drinks will no longer be appealing. Your body is amazing and adjusts accordingly. The more sugar you eat, the more your body craves, but the opposite is true too! When you start taking sugar out of your diet, your body stops craving it. You might see some other bonuses too, such as improved energy and performance in the gym, clearer skin, and less bloating. Ummm, yes please! 🙋‍♀️ What’s to lose?

I’ll just get “sugar free” syrup in my coffee.

Oh friends, we are so glad you brought that up. Let’s talk a little bit about artificial sweeteners. “Sugar Free” is not without side effects. They may preach a lower calorie count (not worth it), but these artificial sweeteners are toxic for your body. Read your labels! The INGREDIENT labels, not necessarily the Nutrition Facts. This goes far beyond coffee. Do you use protein powder, workout supplements, chewing gum, vitamins, breath mints…the list goes on. Look at your labels and see what they use to sweeten these things. Do you drink energy drinks or juice? Flip that package over and see what they are sweetened with.

  • Zip Fizz: Sucralose (Splenda) and Xylitol (also considered a natural sugar, because it can come from plants, but still has to be processed into an edible form, and it can have negative side effects, especially if you have IBS. (1)(2)
  • Spark: Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Crystal Light:  Aspartame (NutriSweet, Equal)

Sucralose (Splenda) is 600 times sweeter than regular table sugar. (3) Consuming these fake sugars just adds chemicals into your diet, and defeats the purpose of kicking a sugar habit. Our goal for you is to kick the need for sweetness, regardless of where it comes from. If you are at all familiar with the Whole30 Diet, you are probably familiar with how they refer to sugar cravings as the “Sugar Dragon.” The only way that you can get rid of these sugar cravings is to starve your dragon. (4)(5)

“Non-nutritive sweeteners are far more potent than table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. A miniscule amount produces a sweet taste comparable to that of sugar, without comparable calories. Overstimulation of sugar receptors from frequent use of these hyper-intense sweeteners may limit tolerance for more complex tastes,” explains Dr. Ludwig. That means people who routinely use artificial sweeteners may start to find less intensely sweet foods, such as fruit, less appealing and unsweet foods, such as vegetables, downright unpalatable.”(6)


Many of you know and love fellow FGF Cd’A members, Amy Yardley and Amy Spolestra (Navigate Your Healing. Find them on Facebook!) Here is what Amy Y. had to say when asked her opinion on sugar substitutes:

"Sugar substitutes might seem like a great idea on the surface, but there are some hidden dangers that people should be aware of. One of the biggest dangers is that the sweet taste sends a signal to the body that something high-caloric is arriving and so the body prepares for that delivery. When a different food arrives, the body doesn’t process it efficiently because it wasn’t properly prepared. It’s like your friend asking you to come over to hang out and watch the game but when you get there, they want you to paint the kitchen instead while THEY watch the game. This constant ‘miscommunication’ between the taste buds, the brain and the gut can wreak havoc over time with hormones and insulin. Would you stay friends with someone who constantly lied to you about what you were going to do when you got together? I hope not!”

Let’s just cut through this quickly - If it has a sugar substitute in it, you should definitely think twice about it!


But, but, but, what am I supposed to drink???

In a word, WATER! Buuuuuut don’t worry, we have you covered with alternatives for some common sugar-laden beverages:

  • Latte: Add ghee, collagen, cinnamon, and some high-quality milk (full fat canned coconut milk, NutPods, homemade almond/cashew milk) to your morning coffee for an alternative to sugary creamers!
  • Lemonade: Fill up a big pitcher with water and add cucumber, strawberries and lemon slices. (infusion pitchers exist just for this reason). The picture below is cucumber and blackberries. The longer it sits, the more the water will taste like whatever you have added. All the sugars coming from the fruit are more readily digested by our bodies because they are naturally occurring sugars.
  • Soda: Opt for unsweetened fizzy water with a slice of fruit, and a splash of unsweetened hibiscus iced tea.

Remember that we are all in this together! Let’s try to focus on how our bodies are feeling instead of wishing we had that PSL. Pay attention to the important things happening in your body and embrace it. Be mindful that the women around you are on this same 6 week journey. Encourage each other to work through these habit changes, and focus on all that is being accomplished!

References for your reading pleasure:

  1. Xylitol (article is pro-xylitol, but does include some negative side-effects…at the end):
  2. Sugar Alcohols (e.g. Xylitol):
  3. Splenda/Sucralose:
  4. Whole30 Sugar Dragon 1:
  5. Whole30 Sugar Dragon 2:
  6. Artificial Sweeteners Effects:
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