Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Prisoner of Splenda

"Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. " Since the dawn of time, diet plans have included a list of "free foods" which may be consumed without penalty. The list varies widely from diet to diet. Which brings us to the topic of Splenda.

Splenda is the latest and best in a series of non-nutritive sweeteners. There was saccharin, which I remember in the form of tiny, vile white tablets fizzing around on top of my mother's coffee. Saccharin is still available, mixed with dextrose, in Sweet & Low's pink packets. There were cyclamates, popular but soon banned for being possibly carcinogenic. There was Nutrasweet, aspartame, in the blue packets.

Finally came Splenda. Splenda, sucralose, tastes almost like sugar. The advertising says it tastes like sugar because it's "made from sugar." I can't vouch for the chemistry of that claim, but it's true that the stuff fools me better than all of its predecessors. Next to the coffeemaker at home I keep an 400-packet industrial-size box of Splenda. A litter of shredded yellow packets follows me everywhere.

Why do I need Splenda? Because I don't like the taste of coffee. Why do I need coffee? Because I need to stay awake. Why do I need to stay awake? Because I don't get enough sleep. Why don't I get enough sleep? Because I stay awake. Of all the many vicious circles in which I dance, this is the very viciousest.

I could give up coffee and just take caffeine tablets, but they taste worse than saccharin pills. I could drink Diet Coke, which is fairly palatable, but expensive, and then there's all the aluminum cans on top of the refrigerator.

I'm giving up so many high-calorie foods right now that it hurts to think I should also give up anything from the free list. But I don't think coffee is doing me any good.


  1. Why would you care what a pill "tastes" like? Isn't the whole idea of a pill that you swallow it without tasting it at all? Think of the time and trouble you would save just to pop a caffeine pill and skip all the fuss of coffee.

    I went from coffee to pills to nothing. I have to abstain from all caffeine. I thought I couldn't do it, but by now I don't seem to miss it.

  2. It would seem not to matter, but No-Doz pills taste so bad that I can taste them all the way down and after they're in my stomach.

  3. Ok now. Who are we kidding? Just how many cups of coffee are we talking about per day? Probably 3-5? Using sugar rather than splenda isn't what makes us overweight. It's lack of exercise, appetizers, two helpings of dinner (oversized helpings at that), snacking all day, dessert. Not little packets of sugar.

    Besides, splenda is going to kill us one day too.


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