The Truth about “Sugar-Free”

Staff Writer
The Truth about “Sugar-Free”

Those infamous words we’ve all used, but how far does this saying stretch to? When I order my grande iced skinny caramel latte with soy milk does that mean I’ll be “skinny”? That’s certainly what the name implies, and in our society, “skinny” is an ideal so many are blindly striving toward; one Starbuck’s order at a time. So the question is, if we eat or drink  “skinny” are we skinny?

STARBUCKS

Photo courtesy of Blue on Flickr

First we have to decipher what “skinny” means. In Starbucks terms it typically means; sugar-free, non-fat milk and no whipped cream. Now you might be thinking, “Woah. Goodbye treadmill, hello Starbuck’s! Just a few skinny lattes away from my Summer bod!” But as you may have noticed, skinny lattes are not a component of Your Flat Tummy Day regimen.

Low cal is like SoCal? 

Obviously, all the California beach beauties must order sugar-free drinks, how else would they have those killer bodies? Don’t be fooled, sugar-free products and sugar substitutes are made of chemicals! They can’t be broken down completely so they are only partially digested in your body, which is why they provide fewer calories. Fewer calories! Great, right? Wrong. Since these nutrients aren’t fully digested, they cause gastrointestinal side effects such as bloating and a gassy feeling in your stomach. Not so comfortable, or cute, when you want to be frolicking around in your yellow polka dot bikini all day.  This goes for most sugar substitutes that contain sugar alcohols, so watch out for them the next time you’re comparing your so called “skinny” products. (Beware: Sugar-Free gum causes the same bloating and gastrointestinal effects.)

Less now, more later? 

When our diet consists of all things labeled “low-calorie”, “reduced fat” and “sugar-free” we trick ourselves into thinking that we haven’t eaten anything or have “been good today.” This distorted way of thinking about our nutrition can cause us to overindulge on unhealthy foods like super-sugary treats or to binge and overeat to “compensate for not eating” during the day.  It’s not all in our heads though, artificial sweeteners, found in Starbuck’s sugar-free syrups, increase your appetite and desire for sweets, throwing us way off of our healthy summer game plan.

A world without Starbuck’s can seem like a dark, dark place, so instead of quitting completely, try to limit your sugar-free orders. If you really want your caramel iced latte, get your caramel iced latte, but not skinny! Ask for skim milk if you’re trying to cut calories and hold the whipped cream (but only if you must, sincer that IS the best part).

Photo by Jay Soto

Photo by Jay Soto

What should you do if you read this whole article with a skinny hazelnut latte in hand and are now feeling the wrath of the uncomfortable bloat? Drink flat water to promote smoother digestion!

Maybe you are what you eat, but not when it’s a skinny latte.

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