Chemical Lobotomy Redux

I used to keep a blog from 2004-2008 called Darjeelingirl. It is archived now but still accessible, and I enjoy clicking through it every now and then. I’ve come a long way in my Christian walk and no longer agree with some of the things I wrote back then, but as a family we’ve had some great times. One of these days, I have to get the posts bound in paper form for my kids to enjoy as they grow older.

One minute you’re defending the whole galaxy; the next thing you know, you’re sucking down darjeeling with Marie Antionette and her little sister.
~Buzz Lightyear

One of the posts from January 2005, especially, I never want to lose, so I am going to repost it here. It tells the story of how I discovered just how poisonous artificial sweeteners are. Sometimes I wonder if these chemicals are causing half the anxiety and mental illnesses that people seek medications for. If only they knew that relief could be found by simply avoiding diet pop! The links will be disconnected, but a quick Google search these days will bring up a hundred times what was available on the topic back then.

Chemical Lobotomy

For the last few weeks my memory seemed to be even worse than ever. Shoot, even my thinking processes were whacked – for the life of me I couldn’t think my way out of a paper bag. It was so frustrating, but I tried to pass it off as just growing older. I couldn’t remember people’s names even if I was talking right to them. Trying to get ready for my classes was near impossible and that really bummed me out. I could barely work with or remember basic commands on my computer. I thought I was dealing with depression again – but had no reasons for it – my heart is healing and my view on life is actually getting better these days. I seriously worried that maybe I was falling victim to premature alzheimers or something. I even had to fight off irrational thoughts that people hated me – I chalked that up to spiritual warfare and prayed a lot. I shudder when I look back at the misery of the last few weeks!

With so much to do and three kids to care for, I cried out to God desperately at times during that week. Then on Tuesday night I went to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. A container of low-carb creamer stood next to the coffee maker. As I poured the coffee, a conversation began in my heart. As if the Holy Spirit stood right there next to me, I heard, “Look at that. The ingredients. Sucralose. It’s just like NutraSweet.” Now I already knew that I couldn’t drink lots of diet pop or I would get all cloudy and feel air-heady. I can have maybe one or two cans a week. Then it dawned on me – sucralose is just like aspartame, an artificial sweetener – only for me it’s worse! I had only 1 or 2 tablespoons of that creamer a day – not like a can of pop a day. But the side-effects were so much thicker and deeper! So I threw the stuff out and used some powered creamer until I could get to the store.

On Friday morning Jamie and I went to SuperTarget to pick up some folders I needed for the SAT Essay Workshop I doing on Saturday. While there, we grabbed a few groceries. I remembered (a miracle!) I wanted some regular creamer and started to tell her about my revelation. She stopped cold in the aisle, her eyes wide, mouth open in shock. “Tell me again how you felt?” she asked. “I couldn’t think or focus. Couldn’t remember names or words. I just wanted to sleep. I felt all cloudy and really air heady.” She said, “Patsy, you left some of that stuff at my house and I’ve been putting it on my cereal. The other day I was so spaced out I couldn’t remember where to park my car to get to my house…”

Scarey! So I did a search, and of course, found lots of web pages about the dangers or side effects of sucralose, a.k.a. Splenda. Sure enough, of the myriad side-effects, depression, anxiety and a spaced-out or drugged feeling are on at least one list, plus a list of awful things it did to the test rats. Usually they wouldn’t even eat it. Here’s one that tells how sucralose is chemically similar to DDT! Jamie and I are definitely not the only ones to suffer from this stuff. I read that sites that try to expose the dangers of this stuff even get hate mail. Wow. We do like our sugar fix. Nevertheless, I am feeling much better and clearer now. No more artificial sweeteners for me – ever. It’s good to have my brain back.

Seven years later, artificial sweeteners can be found in almost any processed food, from salad dressings to juices and myriad foods marketed to children. I can’t imagine the damage that it’s doing to our children’s brains and development. If it weren’t for Glee Gum, it would be impossible to find chewing gum without aspartame or sucralose in it. For my family, anything with artificial sweetener is strictly off limits, and I’ve trained my kids to read the labels on everything.

What strikes me most, however, as I read this story now seven years later, is God’s direct and tender care for me. It reminds me of Isaiah 40:11 where He says, “He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; He gently leads those that have young.” My kids were 11, 9, and 7 back then. They definitely needed a mom with her wits about her. I love recalling this testimony of His nearness and reality in my life.

Comments

  1. I am trying to eliminate the artificial sweeteners from our diet. It is really hard, but slowly with God’s help I am finding it easier to make treats that the family likes so we are not so dependent on packaged foods.

    • It is a constant journey, isn’t it? I remember when we used to eat out at places like McD’s and such all the time. We eliminated that. Then fake sugars, then added more vegs, then organic, then… It’s a step by step process to get out of the standard American diet. I’ll always remember what I learned at LaLeche League so long ago – eat food as close to its most natural state possible. That’s been my goal ever since… still journeying!

      Thanks for stopping by, Cariann! ;-)

  2. I can’t do artificial sweetners either — instant migraine. The fact that it has any kind of neurological effect is scary to me. My husband drinks it all day long, every day (diabetes) and feels horrible all the time, has memory issues and fatigue. I can’t convince him they could be related. Can’t wait to share your testimonial with him tomorrow!

    • oooh! I hope it helps nudge him to start giving it up!

      {{{{shudder}}}} The memories of the anxiety and nutso feelings still wig me out!

      Thanks for stopping by, Marcy. I loved your “building a foundation” post! I shared it with all my tweeps!

  3. That is encouraging. We use a lot of artificial sweeteners for the diabetics in our family.

  4. Wow! That’s scary!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I do love my sugar, and don’t drink diet anything. Now you have me wondering where else artificial sweeteners could be hiding. Sigh. More to do. I’ve gotta go read me some labels.

    • I know right? Reading labels? It’s such a pain, and so depressing because that stuff is in EVERYTHING for no good reason! But after that experience, I NEVER want to feel that way again – or have my kids feel that way. It was horrible!

  6. Wow. I never touched artificial sweeteners until about 5 years ago. Hmmm. Definitely food for though here.

  7. Very interesting! I used to use Splenda a lot back in 2003-2004. I rarely used any of the other types because I didn’t like the taste. Except for Diet Coke. That was my drink of choice. I don’t use any artificial sweetener (knowingly) now if I can help it. I still have the fuddled-muddy-headedness, though I never had it back then. Perhaps it was delayed in my case. I do often wonder if I have some sort of food allergy and some day I may even find out.
    I am stopping by from the Comments Club.

  8. I will never forget the first time I tried an aspertame-sweetened product. I was a teen, and sent away for the free bubblegum being advertised on the back of a Cheerios box (with parental permission, of course). The gum arrived, and it was delicious. From that moment until some time in my 30’s, I had a very positive view of this great product that sent me free gum and tasted great. Not that I drank diet pop…I knew it gave me a headache and made my eyes “feel weird.” A while back I read that airline pilots were not allowed to drink diet pop, and figured that would be the end of aspertame and related products. Nope!

    Now I’ll sometimes use stevia/stevita to sweeten the organic goat yogurt, organic apple cider vinegar, etc. that we purchase. And if baking, organic sugar. Why organic? You could write a new post on the effects of GMO’s from plants to animals. It’s a tough world in which to grow healthy kids, isn’t it?

    So glad God ensured that you found the cause of your trouble and you are able to teach as well as care for your family!

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