Sweet Nothings

Sweet Nothings

Like many of the millions of Americans that are overweight, fatigued, and feeling like warmed over hash every morning that they rise to face the day, I have suffered these same complaints for most of my 39 years. I came to this world short, chubby, so round, so firm, so fully packed and well… just not runway model material. I quit growing in height in the 5th grade. Stopped right at five feet tall, but my body did not stop growing in the horizontal direction. I forced myself into a self-imposed year of anorexia at about 19 years old, and then succumbed to potassium deficiency and nearly died just after marrying in 1982. It was all about being thin, being able to wear those cutesy, little fashions at 5-7-9 shops and making myself appealing to the opposite sex. Diets? You bet, I tried them all… if it promised a petite, little package out of my barrel shaped body, bring it on!! Every time, I ended up sick and fatter than before.

The newest diet craze these days involves the no/low carbohydrate diet heralded by Dr. Robert Atkins of the Atkins Center in New York City, New York. I had heard many good things about this diet, and saw some amazing results in friends and family members that were on the Atkins plan. Still, I was skeptical, and continued my daily jaunts to the gym and my routes on the treadmill. Then, I picked up the Atkins’ Diet Revolution book and read it with great interest. It made a lot of sense, considering the little bit I knew about insulin, blood sugar levels, and ketones from 15 years working in a clinical laboratory and running glucose tolerance, insulin tolerance and ketone levels on many diabetic patients. My family is an ultra high risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and yeast-related infections. My father and paternal grandmother both died at 42 years old of massive coronaries and both were massively obese. There was diabetes running through the family like a wildfire, too. Dr. Atkins diet claimed to treat all of these high risk conditions with just a simple change of diet and eating habits. I just had to try this diet! So, I made my way to the grocery store and loaded up on the ketogenic plan of weight loss: meat, meat, meat, and more meat, cheese, eggs, butter, heavy whipping cream, precious few veggies, and lots of greens. I went to the health food store and bought the Atkins vitamins and supplements, some Atkins shake mix and bake mix, a bottle of Ketosticks (to check my urine for true ketosis) and I started my diet four weeks ago. The first three days were difficult, but on the fourth day, I noticed a feeling of energy, slept better than I had slept in years (literally!) and all the ailments of approaching 40 years old seemed to disappear. The heart palpitations and chest pains on laying down to bed at night disappeared, the yeast infections vanished, and the lifelong shadow of depression seemed to lift and float away. By the end of the second week of the Induction phase of the diet, I had lost 15 pounds. FIFTEEN POUNDS, PEOPLE!!!

Now, I suppose you’re wondering what the hell this has to do with the topic of technology, yes? On the Atkins diet, you are not allowed sugar at all. None, nada, zilch. You can have Sweet N’ Low (blech!) or aspartame in small amounts, but that brings on headaches and nausea at times. I was desperate for a sweetener other than these two alternatives. So, I started searching the Web. I came across the idea of using stevia, an herbal extract from the South American countries, but it gave a green cast to everything I used it in… yuck. Then, I wandered onto a Web site called Atkins Friends and started reading themessage board of the other Atkins people on their way to better health and a thinner body. I kept seeing the name “Splenda” used over and over again when the topic was on sweeteners. So, I did a search on “Splenda.” That one search alone has been worth my everyday Internet access. It may be only my puny opinion, but “Splenda” is the greatest thing to come across the food and beverage market since sliced bread or the invention of the egg.

Splenda, known by its scientific name of “sucrolose,” is close to the greatest thing to happen to diabetics, hypoglycemics, and carbohydrate addicts EVER. Splenda (sucrolose) was discovered in 1976 through a collaborative research project between scientists at Tate & Lyle and researchers in carbohydrate chemistry at Queen Elizabeth College, University of London. Splenda is made from sugar through a patented, multi-step process that selectively replaces three hydrogen-oxygen groups on the sugar molecule with three chlorine atoms. The result is an exceptionally stable sweetener that keeps sugar’s taste without sugar’s calories. After consumption, it passes through the body without being metabolized or broken down.

McNeil Specialty Products Company (MSPC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market Splenda, although it has been used as a non-caloric sweetener throughout other parts of the world for years now. It has also been approved by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization.

Not only does Splenda have no calories or carbohydrates, it also does not promote tooth decay. It can be used in cooking just as sugar in equivalent amounts. It has no unpleasant aftertaste, as does aspartame or saccharine. It has no chemical reaction to any food additives, such as spices and flavorings. It’s truly a miracle discovery for diabetics, hypoglycemics, and those people on carbohydrate restricted diets.

Currently, products employing Splenda available in the grocery stores include Diet Rite Cola, Musselman’s Apple Sauce and Pie Fillings, Blue Luna Lite Cafe Mocha coffee drinks, Log Cabin Sugar Free syrups, Tropicana Twister Lights, Ocean Spray Lightstyle fruit drinks, Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate, Arizona Iced Coffees, Trident Sugarless gums, and Slim Jones Diet Sodas. New products are being developed almost daily using Splenda as the sweetener of choice, including chocolate candy bars, hard candies, boxed chocolates and taffies, coffee sweetening syrups in a huge assortment of flavors, including amaretto, Irish cream, vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, raspberry, strawberry, and cinnamon. Gone are the days when people on sugar-restricted diets have to live without the sweet things in life that most people enjoy.

I have personally tasted and have been using Splenda for almost two weeks now, and seriously believe that this product is the best thing to happen to the food industry since sliced bread. Splenda is not available in your local supermarket (yet!), but can be ordered online via the Splenda Web site at http://www.sucrolose.com. Three boxes of either 100 packets, or three boxes of granular equal to 2 pounds of sugar can be ordered for $9.95, plus shipping and handling.

My hat is tipped in honor of the scientists that developed this new product, and to Johnson & Johnson for making it available to all of us in the United States after it has been a well known food additive in the rest of the world for years now. Why are we always the last ones to know about and get to experience these new developments in science and medicine? Baffles the heck out of me, but right now I’m more than happy to finally enjoy “sweet nothings” without the added calories and hyper-speed real sugar highs that come from “old fashioned” sugar.

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