Slurpees are my favorite summer time treat: cold, sweet, and the best thing to cure an ice cream craving. Recently we walked down to the 7/11 on the corner to buy one of those brain freezing treats and were confronted with a battle on sugar vs. aspartame.
Our local 7/11 has a bad habit of the sugar-free flavor machine not working properly. The only time we drink Slurpees is when we can get sugar-free because it offers just 50 calories for a medium cup. If you chose a regular medium Slurpee you will be consuming 130 calories– more than double to fit into your day! So, the sugar-free machine was once again broken and I *cried* out in despair that the only reason we walked down here was for the lite flavor. The cashier, in a very fit-shaming way, asked me why I would ever choose the sugar-free flavor in the first place. He proceeded to make two very common claims:
Aspartame is bad for you (it’s not)
Sugar-free tastes awful (different doesn’t mean awful)
Let’s break down why these don’t hold weight (see what I did there?) when it comes to my goals.
“It’s toxic” – This is a valid statement that doesn’t mean anything. Everything is toxic or bad for you at a certain level. Eating too many carrots, which are very high in beta carotene used for Vitamin A conversion, will cause carotenemia. Drinking too much water in a short period can kill you (seriously, it is called hyponatremia)*. The point is, you should consume everything in moderation and you will never drink enough sugar-free Slurpees for the aspartame to be toxic. Still not buying it? Here are some fun facts!
Essentially, I would need to drink gallons of sugar-free Slurpees EVERY SINGLE DAY to experience negative impacts on my health. When it comes to my goals, I find the added calories of sugar to be far more adverse than 100 mg of a substitute. Stevia and Splenda effectively reduce the sugar and caloric intake in the diet while maintaining sweetness and taste.
Speaking of taste: Yes, sugar-free does taste different, but different doesn’t mean bad. The change may take a small adjustment (seriously though the two hardly taste that different), but soon you won’t even remember the taste of sugar laden beverages.
Weigh all the facts and make your own choices that help you reach your goals. If you can fit full sugar beverages into your day and maintain balance, drink the Blue Raspberry. If you would rather eat 100 calories later, then opt for the sugar-free Slurpee. In the end it best to use moderation on both fronts and stick to water for 80% of your beverages.
To read more about the impacts of sugar, check out this previous post and watch Sugar Coated on Netflix.
*Don’t worry, carotenemia will only cause your skin to turn a little orange and you would need to eat several cups of carrots every day to experience this. You would also need to drink upwards of 200 ounces of water to experience hyponatremia. I struggle to get 20 ounces in my day.