Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nutrasweet hiding in regular food

A pack of regular gum. Big Red. Looks innocent enough. I mean, it's not health food by any stretch of the imagination but I was taking several airplane flights and just wanted to chomp on some gum during the landing process. I specifically bought *regular* gum, not sugar-free gum, because I am avoiding nutrasweet (a.k.a. asparatame, a.k.a. "sweet poison"). Nutrasweet has been implicated in all sorts of health problems. I personally avoid it because I don't like to spend large portions of my evenings in the bathroom. At least not involuntarily.

Well imagine my surprise when I, on a hunch, as I was chomping on a hot cinnamon-y stick of Big Red, perused the ingredient list on the box only to see this:

Aspartame. There it is on the 2nd line. Who put this crap in my crap?

I spit the gum out (into the paper of course).
This is the second time in a month I bought something that was NOT sugar free but still contained nutrasweet. The first time I bought a bag of lifesavers. I ate 3 and my stomach got all wonky. So I checked the wrapper and yup- nutrasweet.

I can't believe I used to drink diet soda all day every day, knowing now that 3 tainted lifesavers can ruin my evening. Good Lord- no wonder I got deathly ill.

Apparently nutrasweet is 16 times sweeter than sugar and cheaper to produce/ use than sugar, so manufacturers can reduce the amount of sugar (or corn syrup) they use if they mix in some nutrasweet.

The lesson here? Read the labels, assume nothing (I assumed buying regular meant no aspartame- wrong!), and if you're having weird symptoms, ask yourself if it might be something you ate or drank.

I was trying to consume candy and gum in moderation- a small piece or 2 a day. Maybe the lesson to me is to just completely stop eating crap.

Carla Ulbrich, The Singing Patient,
is the author of "How Can You *Not* Laugh at a Time Like This?"
Get Carla's Book at

PS- went to the grocery store today and on my trip went looking for some "safe" gum (no artificial sweeteners, not that sugar is good for your teeth, but anyway...) I looked at some Freedent and WOW! It not only has sugar and corn syrup but also sorbitol AND aspartame (nutrasweet). A hat trick!

Also, I went by the sushi area and the *sushi* at the grocery store has aspartame in it! Know what else does? Cellcept! One of the reasons I decided to wean off of it (in addition the possible "side effects" of lymphoma and fatal brain infection). I only wish whoever was poisoning people with aspartame would consume enough of it to suffer the consequences, and have an Ebenezer Scrooge "everything I'm doing is WRONG" moment...