Am I healthy?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself recently.

I like to think I’m fairly healthy. I do lots of cardio-busting exercise running 4-5 times a week. I do some strength work to try and smooth out biomechanical imbalances. I always hit my ‘5 a day’ fruit count (no, not just with apples ;))Healthy foodI eat stupid amounts of vegetables. We’ve swapped to organic or free range meat and I try and buy organic vegetables and fruit where it ‘matters’. I’m at a healthy weight, everything functioning like it should (or I hope at least!)…no major spot break-outs or lack lustre hair. Perfect, right?

Hmmm. There is something that I never really mention on the blog. Most people would probably say it’s not a big deal. But I’ve started to wonder about my consumption of artificial sweeteners.

It’s no secret of my love for sweet stuff. I could eat cake every single day if I let myself. I don’t because I want to be healthy. I’ve often had comments from people like “where do you put it?” or “I wish I could eat like that and remain so slim”. Well my secret is I don’t eat it every single day. Obviously it appears on my blog a lot because I love cake and it’s a whole lot more interesting than “here’s another apple…”. But if I’ve eaten a lot of cake or chocolate one day I’ll balance it the next day or the next meal. I do love healthy food and eating salad for a meal is my kind of thing.

However, like I said I love sweet things but I can’t eat calorific sweet things all day long. So I’ve found ways around this. And now I’m starting to wonder if my ‘work arounds’ aren’t much better.

‘Sugar-free’, ‘no added sugar’…these are words I’ll look for. I’m not interested in ‘fat free’ or ‘low fat’. It’s all about reducing the sugar for me. However I’m not all about reducing the sweet taste. And here lies my issue.

Am I consuming too many sweeteners every day? What are the risks with eating too many sweeteners? What is this doing to my health in the long-term?

To put this into perspective this is what I consume every single day:

  • No Added Sugar Squash

SquashI drink squash by the bucket load. At work I have a 500ml glass and I probably drink at least three of these with squash every single day at work. Sometimes more. It’s very rare that I’m actually thirsty. I drink squash because I get bored at work and it stops me from mindless snacking…so instead I’m mindlessly drinking. I’m also constantly going to the loo. Good for getting my daily steps!Squash I have to buy a 1.5 litre double concentrate squash every week for work. Less than 10 calories per 250ml? Perfect! Let’s ignore that long list of chemical-sounding ingredients shall we? Hmm.

  • Low Calorie Mint Hot Chocolate

I will have a large mug of this every night.

Options Hot ChocolateI take this hot chocolate with me if I go on holiday, to friend’s, I took it with me to Endure and when I stay with relative’s. It’s the last thing I have at night and I love it. Alfie loves it too, he gets to lick the mug afterwards (shh, this isn’t disgusting at all. You’re wrong). Also probably the one reason I have to get up every single night to pee. But less than 40 calories for a mug! It tastes delicious. I can’t even touch Starbucks hot chocolate in comparison to this chemically formulated brand. I’m well and truly hooked. But again, those ingredients look so dubious. Sure once in a while it’s fine…but every single night?

  • Low Calorie Jelly

Like my hot chocolate, I’ll have a pot of sugar free jelly every evening. We used to buy the ready-made pots but it would cost us a fortune the rate I was getting through them (like 70p per pot). Now we buy the sachets that make four pots a time (we kept the old pots and make the jelly in them) for the same price. I actually found out my lovely running friend does this too!Low calorie jellySorry for appalling photo which you probably can’t read! 

She probably doesn’t have one every single day though…and on bad days I might have two (‘bad’ days like “I fancy chocolate but I ate cake earlier so maybe I’ll have another jelly instead”).

  • Sugar free chewing gum

A bit like my squash obsession, I’ll chew a lot of chewing gum at work. Mint gum after my morning coffee, maybe a fruit-flavoured one before lunch, one after lunch, one after my other coffee, one because I’m bored…I get through a lot. I’ve heard horror stories about what it does to your insides. I don’t even want to know.

I reach for these sugar-free alternatives to keep myself in check and not over-do the sugar-rich things I love. But is this any better? Recent research has shown that diet drinks actually don’t work as the body is tricked into thinking that calories are going to be arriving and they never do – so you crave more sweet things. And what’s the story on sweeteners and whether they’re bad for our body or not? Do we really know in terms of long-term consequences? Do I want to know?

I want to cut down or cut out completely…but the sad fact is I know I can’t give up my hot chocolate. I love it too much. And my one jelly…that can’t be that bad can it? But I can reduce my squash intake. Yesterday I’m proud to say I drank one 250ml of squash (to keep me sane…) and the rest was plain water or this:

IMG_7201 Water with lemon slices. Boring as hell I assure you and doesn’t quite hit the spot, but it’s a change I’m willing to make.

Small steps right?

Do you think you’re healthy?

What is the one thing you do that you know is not healthy?

What do you think of artificial sweeteners?

18 Replies to “Am I healthy?”

  1. I wouldn’t say I was healthy, but I wouldn’t class myself as unhealthy either. I’m somewhere in the middle. I sneak more chocolate from the cupboard (when it’s there) than I should and can’t resist a 99 icecream at this time of year…But like you, I eat more salads and fresh fruit and veg than fried rubbish and I run almost every day of the week. I don’t think I really have any low-cal foods that I regularly eat/drink. I tend to cook most of my meals and if I want something sweet I go full hog and have the real stuff!
    I don’t like squash and do drink water each day but I hate it when they add a lemon slice to your glass in restaurants! Love that Alfie gets to have a sweet fix each night too! Haha! 😀
    Mary recently posted…Food I’m loving and some unexpected giftsMy Profile

    1. I think you have the right approach. Don’t go half-hearted on treats by eating chemically-induced stuff, just have the proper stuff in moderation.
      Do you know what? I can’t stand 99s…I much prefer flavoured ice cream or ice lollies.
      I’m actually quite enjoying the lemon in my drink. Not as sweet but better than boring water all day long.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Things latelyMy Profile

  2. Really interesting post. Personally I always try to avoid ‘low’ anything labelled on food, whether it be ‘low fat’ or ‘low sugar’ because that means their just adding something else to make the product taste nice. Plus you know there’s not going to many nutrients in products that have been ‘messed with’ so much.

    Over the years my sweet tooth seems to have decreased. I always used to have two sugars in my tea. Then I cut it down to one. Then I switched to sweeteners. Then, one day, I stopped with the sweeteners. It took a bit of getting used to but now if someone accidentally puts sugar in my tea I immediately spit it out, it tastes awful!! Amazing how your palette can change so much over time. Now I never yearn for sweet drinks, I always drink water (or tea or coffee with no sugar). Perhaps now you’re cutting down on the squash your sweet tooth might quieten down a bit?
    Autumn recently posted…PBGP Week 7: It Wasn’t A FlukeMy Profile

    1. You’re right in when they put “low” they really mean “swapped for x”. It’s not a good scenario really.
      The funny thing is in my coffee and tea I have them without sugar, but I’m all over sweet stuff normally. I think I really need to tackle the squash as it is so often and so much. Like you said, probably just triggering the need for more sweet things all day long.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Things latelyMy Profile

  3. I really enjoyed reading this.
    It’s something I think about a alot.

    I try to avoid artificial sweeteners. I don’t know the truth/science but when I heard that aspartame (phenylalaline?) was carcinogenic it put me right off. When I moved in with my boyfriend he was a two clicks of sweetener in every tea, I weened him onto normal sugar and then off the sugar in tea completely. I love the sweet stuff though, but I’d rather have brown sugar than one made in a lab!

    Have you seen ‘The Men Who Made Us Fat’ lots of interesting science about sweeteners and how they make you crave sugar more as they are sweeter, might be worthwhile catching up on. I really enjoyed it.
    Stephanie @ A Magpie in the Sky recently posted…Blowing off steamMy Profile

    1. I know, I heard some horror stories about aspartame… just isn’t worth it really.
      I’m going to try and find that programme as it sounds fascinating and will probably encourage me to take more of a check on the stuff I’m eating.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Things latelyMy Profile

  4. Great post Anna. I like to think I’m relatively healthy but I do try to clear junk out of my diet/health and beauty products. In terms of artificial sweeteners, I don’t consume them at all apart from my one – secret until now.. – vice: chewing gum.
    I can chew through packets and packets of the stuff, especially when on a long drive at work. It keeps me alert, my breath fresh and is something to do when I’m going for hours and hours. I don’t normally chew it otherwise.
    I always feel better when I reduce how much I chew but it’s a tough thing to give up, especially as its replaced my car Haribo addiction.
    Claire @ Flake and Cake recently posted…21DSD – Week One RecapMy Profile

    1. Ah chewing gum. It fills such a void of boredom. I’m going to try and limit how much I have. I don’t need to be chewing all through the day! I need to learn self control I think.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Things latelyMy Profile

  5. It’s always interesting to read people’s different versions of healthy, as it means something different to everyone.
    Personally I would say I am healthy, because I live a balanced life. Mostly “clean” eating, but still some treats too.
    However, something I always avoid is anything artificial like sweeteners. I just don’t think our body knows what to do with them. But for me, the worst part is that artificial sweetener gives me the worst headaches, so anything that makes me feel like that, I don’t want in my body.
    Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy recently posted…The Ultimate Hummus SandwichMy Profile

    1. You’re so right with saying that your body doesn’t know what to do with them. It’s certainly not a great thing for me to be doing so often.
      Thankfully I don’t get headaches but you really just don’t know what’s going on inside do you?
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Things latelyMy Profile

  6. Great post Anna! This is something that I regularly think about. What is healthy? Ultimately everyone’s perspective of healthy is going to be different because we’re all individuals, but that’s not to say one persons version of healthy is better than the other. I’d like to think that I’m pretty healthy: 80:20 of healthy to unhealthier foods. I’m all about the balanced approach and find that it works best for me, again it’s not necessarily for everyone.
    Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes recently posted…{WIAW} Sleepy MondayMy Profile

  7. I am completely anti anything that is sugar or fat free, yet is packed with artificial sweeteners which our bodies don’t recognize and can’t process. I’d rather eat something with regular sugar than something artificial, at least our bodies know what to do with it. There’s a good image I saw on Pinterest which has a picture of a smoothie and a diet coke and says: “You have to understand that 200 calories of this, is better than zero calories of this”. I think we’ve got too caught up in counting calories instead of chemicals, and it’s the one thing I would really steer clear of.
    Lauren (@PoweredbyPB) recently posted…Cashew Butter + Coconut Granola BarsMy Profile

  8. I think I am pretty healthy, but I could do better.
    I used to have a lot of artificial sweeteners, as I was concerned about keeping calories low- mainly in yoghurts but also hot chocolates, and sometimes rubbish cereal bars.
    But I started reading about them- partly because of the chemicals, but mainly because of the research that if you have artificial sweeteners then your brain does not compute the mismatch between the sweet taste and lack of blood sugar, so people go on to eat more calories after anyway.
    I do use some sugar alternatives such as coconut sugar, maple syrup or sometimes rice syrup. honey, but I don’t buy anything that has sweeteners in it, I would much rather have a bit of real sugar.
    Have you tried iced tea? Mint tea especially is sweet and you can cool it too- also nicer than chewing gum?
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…Rediscovering home-made ice lolliesMy Profile

    1. Yep I don’t like the sound of what the empty calories are making our bodies think. It just makes us want sugar more anyway. A bad cycle and one I need to get out of!
      Do you just brew peppermint tea and then cool it? I love peppermint tea but I’ve never had it cold.
      AnnaTheApple recently posted…Things latelyMy Profile

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