No-calorie Sweetening

I’m lazy. I don’t exercise, but I should. I’m getting a tire ‘round my middle, and I want it to go away.

Many have said that cutting your intake of high-fructose corn syrup will make you shed the pounds pretty quickly. I believe this to be true.

So, I quit soda. Sure, I’ll have one occasionally now, but I used to have five or more cans of soda per day. That adds up to about 750 kcal of extra energy that I’m certainly not using with my ass-in-chair lifestyle. Luckily, I don’t get caffeine withdrawal – but I like to be awake.

Coffee might be the answer, you say, and I drink that occasionally too, but I tried that a while ago to replace my soda problem. Sadly, I prefer the sweeter coffee drinks, and though coffee packs a solid punch in the caffeine department, drinking it – sweetened or not – makes my mouth feel disgusting afterward. Coffee breath is acrid and sour.

Tea it is, then. Joann wanted an iced-tea maker for a present several months ago. They’re about $20 at Target or Mal-Wart. Initially, we started with Lipton bags. It’s certainly drinkable, but it is about as bog-standard as you can get. My sweet tooth demanded its’ due, so for a while I was adding honey. Honey has calories though, and lots of them.

Now things were starting to get complicated. Caffeine is a virtual requirement, but high-calorie sweeteners are un-desireable. Taste is important to me, and of course I hate the artificial sweeteners. Sure, there’s scary, conspiracy-laden health stories about all of them, but truth is, they all have an off-flavor to me. Nutra-sweet has a persistent sweet aftertaste I can’t stand. Saccharin is too sweet and has a chemical taste which is unpleasant, and Sucralose produces a combination of both sensations. Internet research turned up Stevia . At Home Depot one day, I noticed they had some Stevia plants for sale, so I bought three. After tasting a leaf, I knew I had found my sweetener.

Stevia has a slight licorice flavor to it, but other than that, I can’t tell the difference between the sweetness of it and regular old sugar when it is mixed into foods with the correct proportions. I use the plants to make a stevia tea, but for general sweetening I ended up buying refined stevia from Steviva . They sell a sampler pack which contains liquid, granulated and powdered stevia. When I use the liquid, it takes only three to five drops to sweeten 16 ounces of tea to the point where it is as sweet as four or five teaspoonfuls of sugar.

It’s too early to tell whether cutting out the drink calories has helped – I’ve only been doing this for a couple of months, and the anecdotes tell me my extra ten pounds will take six months to a year to get rid of by simply removing soda from my diet.

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