Sitting at an obesity management conference with a room full of dietitians was in interesting experience. Great food was served, fruits and vegetables easily found, plenty of time to relax ones mind with free access to an athletic center and of course stimulating conversation.

After dinner last night, as we sipped on our coffee or tea, I looked around and “I spied with my little eye something that was yellow”- all around my table. As we were listening to the last speaker of the day, 4 out of 5 of the other guests at the table had added Splenda to their beverages. Not one dietitian had used real sugar to sweeten the drink. I am sure not all tables had the same ratio of sweetener users as mine, but all I could think about was- “boy I am glad no one has taken a picture of our table because I would be :
a)embarrassed to be seen among so many sweetener packages and worry that my clients & colleagues would mistake me as a user
b)worried about how non-dietitians would interpret this message.

Is 1 tsp of sugar “so bad for us” that we resort to an inferior tasting substitute? or did a few of my fellow nutrition nuts bow to the pressure of others reaching for Splenda? OR perhaps this is the key as to how they all stay so trim and thin! … (just to clear up that last point….NO- for those of you who may be tempted to believe this blatantly wrong assumption).

Can you guess how many calories they saved by using the offensive gustatory enhancer? 15 calories per packet of real sugar they would have used. 15 calories.

Now, lets do some math… it takes 3500 calories to make 1lb of body fat. Imagine you drank 2 cups of coffee per day, for a total of 2 tsp of sugar per day. That would mean you are consuming 30calories extra per day if compared to using Splenda instead. That would mean 210 calories per week, 840cal per month and a grand total of 10 080 calories per year. If you cut out that 10 080 calories per year, you technically could end up losing 2.9lbs.

HOWEVER, with the addition of Splenda in your coffee (a supposedly “good” thing to do for your health and weight) are you “allowing” yourself to make a less-healthy choice during the day? For example, “I have switched to Splenda so now I won’t feel bad when I include a cookie in my lunch”. 2 sugar packets = 30cal. 1 cookies may be anywhere from 50-150 calories.

It is normal to fall victim to this way of thinking- “if I am good now, I can be bad later”. BUT what if you were never “bad” to begin with- what if you never felt guilty about your food choices- perhaps there wouldn’t be the rebound emotional effect that we saw above.