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Artificial Sweeteners, Diets and Weight Gain: A Powerful Connection

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Artificial Sweeteners, Yo Yo Diets and Weight Gain
Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Gain


Weight gain and artificial sweeteners are partners. The promises surrounding artificial sweeteners play into the false sense of reality that accompanies eating disorder thinking. You believe can eat something sweet, not take in sugar, not take in calories, satisfy your cravings and not gain weight.  But that belief is not the reality.

If you have an eating disorder you put thought and energy into how to outwit your body. Your goal is to binge eat or restrict and simultaneously have the body shape and weight you want while feeling good. To do this you avoid or deny solid information about what your body needs to thrive. You become more than vulnerable to promises you hope and believe will fulfill your goals. You eagerly embrace them.

Diet and experience weight gain instead of weight loss

You eat and throw up or over exercise to prevent weight gain. You may take laxatives in an attempt to purge your body. You may take diet pills to inhibit your appetite, i.e. try to fool your body into not experiencing hunger. And you look for ways to eat, drink and binge without taking in any calories.

I knew a woman who drank four six packs of diet soda a day. She was bulimic and believed that as long as she was drinking the sodas, the carbonation would both satisfy and dull her taste buds, she wouldn’t binge and, because she wasn’t taking in any calories, she would lose weight.

But she continued to binge, gained weight and also developed skin rashes and a sleep disorder.

I remember going to a large Overeaters Anonymous meeting in Los Angeles. In the parking lot, as I got out of my car, I heard many car doors slamming. I looked around and saw at least 20 women, separately striding toward the meeting room door, all carrying a can of diet soda in their hands. They all looked angry, as if they were each in their own private bubble of rage. 

Science is bringing us more information about how human beings metabolize what goes into the body. And much that goes into the body today is not food. Sugar substitutes abound. To be governed by eating disorder thinking prevents you from examining the facts about what you are actually putting into your body because you are single-minded about tricking your body into bypassing inevitable consequences.

See the links below for information about artificial sweeteners and their effect on your weight and your health.

When you take in an artificial sweetener you get a taste of sweet in your mouth. Your brain sends the message to your body that sugar is coming. But the sugar doesn’t arrive. Your body will crave what it was promised and your sugar cravings will increase.

Heavy carbohydrates like breads, crackers, and pasta break down into sugar fast. So you may crave and eat what you think is not sugar while your body believes sugar is on the way.

This is one of the reasons artificial sweeteners cause your weight gain. But this fact pops an eating disorder fantasy. Which must end first, the eating disorder fantasy or the artificial sweetener?

What do you think artificial sweeteners do once they are in your body?
Please share any surprises or new learning you gain from the links below.

Joanna Poppink, MFT, is a psychotherapist in private practice specalizing in eating disorder recovery. All appointments are virtual.

For a free telephone consultation e-mail her at 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Author of This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder


How Artificial Sweeteners Confuse Your Body into Storing Fat and Inducing Diabetes



*pix  "Flowers of sugar cane" by Thamizhpparithi, 26 November 2013  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


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