For at least a few decades, we've been conditioned to think that sugar-free is the way to be. And in many ways, that's still true — a high-sugar diet is like a Fastpass to obesity, heart problems, diabetes, and a shorter lifespan. But that doesn't mean reaching for things that are labeled "sugar free."
When many of us begin our healthy journeys or new diets, we try to maintain the same way of eating, but substitute "diet food." Diet soda, sugar-free yogurt, Splenda in our coffee — not only are those foods pretty bad for you, but now, new research is saying that they're actually causing you to eat more. You read that correctly. Sugar-free foods made with artificial sweeteners are actually undoing everything you're trying to do. This is not a drill!
Directly from a study published yesterday in Cell Metabolism, the University of Sydney reported, "Studies in both animals and humans have suggested that consuming artificial sweeteners [sucralose, specifically] can make you feel hungry and actually eat more." A 2013 study also stated that artificially sweetened beverages can contribute to being overweight, meaning your best bet for weight loss and overall health is to stay away from the "diet" food.
You might be thinking, "Great . . . I could've just had a regular soda and eaten less." But hold on — that's actually not the best choice, either. Your healthiest option is to reach for real, natural, unprocessed foods. Trying to curb a sweet tooth? Reach for dark chocolate, a piece of fruit (natural sugar from fruit is actually good for you!), or try some wholesome, healthy dessert recipes. Feeling extra hungry or thirsty? Make sure you're getting enough water — not only is it calorie and sugar free by nature, but you'll also curb appetite, whereas a diet soda (or even a regular soda) could make you more hungry and more thirsty. And finally, if you want a piece of cake or something that's made with sugar — just eat it! In moderation, satisfying a sweet tooth (with portion control) can help you control cravings later on.
Watch out for sucralose in your food by reading labels, as even the most unsuspecting of foods might have it on the ingredient list. And if all else fails, make your food at home. It's your safest choice when you're working on your health and weight loss goals.