Equal to Sugar in Sweetness, and Sweetness Addiction

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I’ve had my coffee and tea with two sugars for as long as I can remember. It probably stems from a young age. It was an acquired taste when I was first introduced to it as a teenager, and sugar was a natural response to make it more bearable.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I switched to Equal sweetener tablets. As the name suggests, it boasts equal sweetness to one teaspoon of sugar with significantly lower kilojoules, calories and carbohydrates. For me, it was great because I would still be able to enjoy my tea and coffee with sweetness and not have to worry about having my blood sugar levels skyrocketing. I wouldn’t even have to consider that dreaded task of cutting out sugar. Hell, I even thought I was being healthy.

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But, of course everything has a downside. Sweeteners are, after all, an artificial product. Just have a look at the back of the box if you don’t believe me – I don’t even know what any of those ingredients are! Harvard Health suggests that artificial sweeteners play tricks on your brain. You’ll use the carbs/calories/kilojoules (or whatever you call them) you’ve saved as an excuse to indulge in sweet stuff. And Daily Mail reports that the chemicals in artificial sweeteners fail to trigger the ‘full’ feeling in our brain, leaving us less satisfied and craving more. The end result: weight gain and obesity.

So, now that I’m a few years older (and perhaps a little wiser!), I’m not comfortable about being so reliant on sweeteners in my hot drinks. I’ll have anywhere between 2 and 4 cups of tea or coffee on an average day. Given that I add two Equal tablets to each cup, that’s 8 tablets a day of an artificial product going into my body.

After deliberating on these thoughts for a long time, in December I finally decided to do something about it. I bravely began chopping my Equal tablets into halves and reducing my sweetener consumption from 2 to 1 ½ tablets per beverage.

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Coffee is quite difficult, particularly if you’re an espresso drinker like me. It’s very strong and even bitter at times, making it difficult to forego sugar. However, if you love your lattes, capps and flat whites, generously adding milk to your coffees will make your mission much easier.

Tea is a little easier as its not as intense and there’s much more choice. My tip would be to leave a little room in your cup for some extra milk to help compensate for the sweetness you are losing. I also found it was much easier to forego sugar in lighter blends such as green, chamomile and herbal teas, as well as flavoured blends.

I’ve been down to one tablet per cuppa for the past couple of weeks. At the moment I’m not sure whether I will cut back further, but I’ll probably wait a while longer before making that decision. If this is where it ends, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I’ve reduced my reliance on sugar and artificial sweeteners by 50%. That’s 4 Equal tablets or 4 teaspoons of sugar that I no longer need to add to my coffee each day.

And the icing on top of all of this – I now have a stronger sensitivity to sweetness! Last week I was served a coffee with 2 sugars, and it actually tasted too sweet for my liking! So, thanks to this experience, I will be more conscious when I am consuming sweet food and drinks in future.

Each cutback was very significant for me, and it took me a few weeks (depending on how often you have coffee and tea) to get used to the new taste before I was ready to cut back again. But, that being said, I can’t recommend this enough.

Give it a go – you’ll suprise yourself! (I know I did!)

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