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Splenda tastes like cotton candy

I ate Splenda straight out of the bag a couple nights ago. Considering how frequently I ate Tang crystals or hardened rocks of brown sugar as a kid (and an adult), it’s odd that it’s taken me this long to consider eating the artificial sweetener straight up. It wasn’t as good as sugar or Tang. After all, Mary Poppins didn’t sing, “A spoon full of Splenda helps the medicine go down.” However, it had the same texture as cotton candy, which I found to be surprisingly delightful. I’d stick a spoonful in my mouth and as my saliva seeped into the bulked-up mix of strange chemicals, it would collapse into a clumpy, ball of sweetness on my tongue. Why hasn’t anyone ever mentioned that before? Am I the only nut who has eaten the stuff raw? I wonder if Splenda could develop a zero-calorie cotton candy. I’d try that at the State Fair.

I’m not recommending that anyone start eating Splenda by the bagful. Even the sleaziest salesman alive couldn’t argue that it has any nutritional value, and I know a lot of people are squeamish about artificial sweeteners anyway for fear it’ll give them a 6th finger. (But you’d be an awesome piano player!) I only turned to the Splenda because I was stressed out about speaking publicly over the weekend at the Blog Indiana convention (more on that later) and I love to do me some stress eating. However, I started Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet ten days ago and I didn’t want to screw it up with a pint of mint chocolate chip. So, I looked around the kitchen for something to abuse, and a bagful of Splenda it was.

Phase 1 is going pretty well. It’s been easier to stick to then I remember. I believe that any nutritionally sound diet that results in you eating less calories than you burn will work. I just prefer South Beach because it’s my thing and it’s worked for me in the past. I also like that I have to make a big mental shift when I do Phase 1. I have a lot of rules to follow and I know that I’m going to aim for a calorie deficit for the next couple weeks. If I just try to vaguely start eating less or eating “better,” but still in a manner similar to what I do all the time, the mental shift doesn’t happen. I find myself doing a bit of cheating or deciding it’s okay to have a second helping. More than anything, it’s been good to pick a plan with rules and guidelines and stick to it for awhile, or at least until the numbers on the scale are back in a zone where I’d like them.

And it also leads to odd discoveries about Splenda.

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Skye • August 20, 2008 at 8:25 am

I guess this means I no longer have to use coffee as a vehicle for my Splenda habit. Question, though. At what point does Splenda become caloric? I’ve been told that it contains zero calories only to a certain point. I’ve never understood that. Unless my 4th grade math teacher was woefully mistaken, zero multiplied by anything still equals zero.


dietgirl • August 20, 2008 at 8:47 am

eeek! i was born with a sixth finger, but that was 1977 so i wonder no splenda back then. or nutrasweet. were there artificial sweeteners back then? sugarine? mum has some explaining to do. hmmm :)


Just_kelly • August 20, 2008 at 8:58 am

Stress eating… the bane of my existence. I know you’re in phase one so no blah blah blah… but when you are in Phase 3 you should look into Warm Delights 150 calorie chocolate molten cake. Decedent enough to make you feel as you cheated yet only 150 calories!


Just_kelly • August 20, 2008 at 9:17 am

BTW, I just posted about you, your blog, book, etc on my blog: http://choosinglosing.blogspot.com/

Just wanted you to know. Feel free to delete this comment! :-)


PastaQueen • August 20, 2008 at 9:21 am

@Skye – Manufacturers are able to call foods zero-calorie as long as the serving size contains less than about 5 calories. (Not sure the exact number.) For instance, my spray bottle of extra virgin olive oil says it contains 0 calories because the serving size is 1 spray. However, I know the entire can of olive oil has more calories than that.

This site has info on the real amount of calories in Splenda. The calories do not come from the sweetener, sucralose, which itself is actually 0 calories. They come from dextrose and/or maltodextrin which are mixed in with the Splenda to bulk it up so you can replace it cup for cup in recipes. If you used pure Splenda, you’d have to adjust your recipes, but most people don’t want to do that, so they add the extra stuff in.


Jeanne • August 20, 2008 at 9:37 am

I love you blog! I don’t mind the taste of splenda but I get an upset tummy after having it. :( One more excuse to eat the real sugary, stuff, hah! Congratulations on your book and good luck on the South Beach diet. Might have to try it myself!


Dyan • August 20, 2008 at 9:48 am

So, you finally reveal what diet plan you followed to lose the pounds!

You better get a big fat something from Dr. Agatston. A BIG FAT money something!!!


Nancy • August 20, 2008 at 9:48 am

Splenda…hmmmm….worth a try. Just finished Phase I and have to tell ya, started feeling extremely depressed before the end of week two. Did a little research on the very-low-carb stuff, and sure enough, that was the reason. Back on WW and know the weight will come off slower, but very much worth not wanting to kill somebody for a slice of bread. Glad it works for you, though. Keep up the good work!


Deb • August 20, 2008 at 9:56 am

I’ve had great success with South Beach and when I tried to explain why to people, I came up with this: it’s the perfect combination of freedom and restriction (as contradictory as that sounds). It’s very clear what you can’t eat in phase one, but there’s enough leeway to choose what to eat. Anyway, it worked for me, and PQ, and I hope if I ever need to go back on it, it’ll work for me again. (Freudian slip: I first typed “never need to go back on it.”)


Alexia • August 20, 2008 at 9:57 am

Latchkey kid that I was, I used to sit and eat grape kool-aid mix (pre artificial sweetener) by the spoonful. Sometimes I’d add just enough water to make a thick candy paste. Isn’t that sick! Amazing I didn’t get my first cavity until I was in my late 20s.


Sara • August 20, 2008 at 10:08 am

This weight loss thing is such a head game. I think that there’s a really crucial mental shift that comes when we stop defining a behavior as inherently destructive and realize that it’s more important to determine where it falls on the continuum of bad behaviors. Maybe trading a pint of mint chip for a spoonful of splenda is still “stress eating”, but the outcomes aren’t equal–and that’s an important factor to consider before we start whipping ourselves over it.

The longer I do this, the more convinced I become that permanent WL is just a long series of moments when we have to regroup and go back to basics. I totally agree with you that any sensible weight loss program will work–whether it’s South Beach, Weight Watchers, meal replacement, or the “two hot dogs and all the green beans you can eat” diet I just made up in my head. The key is finding your thing, and working it.

I’m glad your phase 1 regroup is going well for you!



Sonya • August 20, 2008 at 10:10 am

Ha! Haven’t tried the straight Splenda yet…. Straight sugar free jello? Yes! Straight sugar free lemonade mix? Yes!

I’m thinking Splenda may be the way to go as it doesn’t turn your tongue colors.


Jaime • August 20, 2008 at 10:33 am

i used to eat the sugar by the spoonful when i was a kid. havent done it lately but it does give me a good idea :)


Lisa • August 20, 2008 at 10:58 am

No, you’re not the only one to eat Splenda straight.

Not a lot in that $3 box of powder, is there?


Helen • August 20, 2008 at 11:09 am

Well I’ve never eaten Splenda straight but I have hacked and sawed away at various frozen things. Things I froze specifically so I wouldn’t eat them. And I’ve also eaten an entire container of frozen light Cool Whip because I couldn’t find anything else. Hmmmm, doesn’t Cool Whip specifically have a South Beach label on it?


PastaQueen • August 20, 2008 at 11:31 am

@Helen – Heh, I did the Cool Whip thing the day after the Splenda feast. We must have the same craving center in our brain.


PastaQueen • August 20, 2008 at 11:35 am

@shauna – OMG, that is so awesome. I thought maybe you were kidding, but then googled this entry and realized you weren’t. Too bad the sixth finger didn’t work. I’d love to have an extra finger to type with!


Quix • August 20, 2008 at 11:44 am

I used to eat sugar by the spoonful when I was younger because there was nothing sweet in the house, that or cough drops. I totally did the koolaid thing and jello thing too. And mowed through frosting containers, coolwhip, and marshmallow fluff as an adult. What is it about not putting something in a bowl or eating it a normal way that makes you able to fool yourself it doesn’t have any calories (just like food off someone else’s plate). Or is that just me? :)


mrs darling • August 20, 2008 at 12:17 pm

“If I just try to vaguely start eating less or eating “better,” but still in a manner similar to what I do all the time, the mental shift doesn’t happen.”

Wow that really is profound! I just told myself that this very morning. It makes a world of difference if you have a real plan. Have you wieghed in those ten days? Have you lost?


SeaShore • August 20, 2008 at 1:01 pm

That explains why processed foods made with Splenda taste pretty good to me, but stuff I try to bake at home tastes yucky. Must be that added-in stuff, rather than the sucralose itself. I couldn’t eat Splenda straight for that reason. I wish I could!


Marste • August 20, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Ha! I have to delurk long enough to say that I’m both fascinated and creeped-out by the idea of eating Splenda straight! (Full disclosure: I am definitely afraid of artificial sweeteners, though. But I have this theory that if I use them all, I won’t ever build up enough toxins to die from any one of them? What’s that? Bad science, you say? LALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU! lol)

I used to eat brown sugar straight from the box – but only the lumps. Loose sugar was too much like SUGAR, whereas the lumps were really more like candy! (Hey, it made sense when I was 6 or 7!) And I must confess that when making cookies, right after creaming the butter and sugar, I have to pour those eggs in right away – otherwise I will eat the WHOLE BOWL of butter and sugar. LOVE. IT.


bunnah • August 20, 2008 at 2:47 pm

My husband and I just started SB on Sunday. I’ve tried it in the past and stopped because… well, no reason, really. We’ve started strong, though, and it’s great having him around.

I’ve never tried Splenda straight, but my husband has this week. My mother-in-law swears that every artificial sweetner (except Splenda) causes cancer, and I have to hear about it everytime I see her. So annoying!

I love reading your blog PQ, and your book was great. Thanks for it, it’s my favorite way to procrastinate at work! :o)


MizFit • August 20, 2008 at 2:56 pm

*waves hand*

I did that once.

out of curiosity.

never thought Id admit it publicly though.


100 DAYS IN BED • August 20, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Dear Pasta Queen,

It’s nice to know you are human and have your bad days, too. I was wondering if you journal as I have found that to be an amazing stress reliever.

I mean, I have a blog too, but the journal is for getting in the real nook and crannies of life, the ooey, gooey embarrassing-ly private stuff – a hard thing to do in a blog sometimes, especially when you work so hard to inspire people.

I find a good rant keeps me away from the Nutter Butters (for the most part!)


Laura N • August 20, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Agree about needing rules to lose weight. Good for you for sticking to it, esp. in the midst of a stressful time.

Frozen ff cool whip is as good as ice cream, IMO. Trouble is, I can eat the whole container at once, so I might as well eat ice cream.

I had never read Shauna’s 6th finger post. That is too freaking funny. Thanks for putting up the link.


Shana • August 20, 2008 at 4:28 pm

I wonder if the fair folks could find a way to make deep fried Splenda balls? If they could put them on a stick, even better!


K • August 20, 2008 at 4:32 pm

It was never that big a secret, I don’t think – she’s had it sitting in the sidebar for ages!


Lydia • August 20, 2008 at 5:07 pm

Well I remember once feeding sweetnlow to geese when I was a kid…and they didn’t like it. I prob polluted lake Ontario.

My wicked low cal/low fat bad thing is low fat cool whip….it’s pretty nasty stuff, but tastes great. I like it on Caramel rice cakes….crazy badness.


Trishie • August 20, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Hi PQ!

I too, used to eat koolaid and sugar mixed together from a bag. My enabler friend who’s parents were never home made me do it. Although I enjoy splenda on my strawberries, I don”t enjoy it in my Diet Coke. I think it makes it taste weird. My college major is dental hygiene, so the idea of gritty sugar on my teeth makes me shudder.


Talli van Sunder, DPT • August 20, 2008 at 5:35 pm

A few weeks ago, I had some bitter organic coffee that definitely needed some sweetener. I was at an outdoor cafe and I had six choices: Equal, Splenda, Sweet N Low, Pure white cane sugar, Turbinado (raw brown) sugar and honey. Even though the artificial sweeteners are 0 calories, sweeter than sugar and don’t promote tooth decay, studies have shown that they actually stimulate appetite and cause people to overeat. I ended up putting a dab of honey in my coffee because it had the most nutritive benefit and it did not promote overeating. Trying to be healthy by making smart choices.


Tracy • August 20, 2008 at 5:54 pm

I personally hate Splenda. The stuff makes my tummy go into knots and I have very bad reactions to it. I discovered these ‘reactions’ after eating ice cream. It made me a sad panda.


Lila • August 20, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Oye vey! Straight Splenda. Please don’t reproduce anytime soon.


Gwendolyn • August 20, 2008 at 9:09 pm

I recently considered the straight Splenda thing (while on phase 1), but I chickened out when I remembered my bleh reaction to trying the pink packaged stuff straight as a kid. 0.o


The Baroness • August 20, 2008 at 9:53 pm

I can’t imagine eating straight Splenda. That sounds nasty to me. Speaking of the wonder sweetener, I have started using the Splenda with fiber in my coffee and other things needing to be sweetened, and it’s really good.


julie • August 20, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Sounds to me like you may be a compulsive overeater.

I can certainly understand eating straight splenda if you’re sweet eater. I’m not, I am fat eater and a compulsive overeater.

Once I could accept my food addiction life got a lot easier for me.


Ang • August 20, 2008 at 10:44 pm

I used to eat spoonfuls of sugary lemon iced tea mix. I would crunch the sugar with my teeth and suck out the tart lemon. Recently I created a “mousse” out of a few spoonfuls of sugar free Cool Whip mixed with a spoonful of cocoa. It was okay, and it got to stop thinking about something chocolate!


Diana the Scale Junkie • August 21, 2008 at 12:01 am

haha, clearly I’m not the only freak in town, I used a ramekin of splenda as a dip for fresh strawberries once


gknee • August 21, 2008 at 10:02 am

IMHO- the tastiest sugar substitute yet is Lacanto!

From one junkie to another- mmmmm. As far as I know it is only available via the Body Ecology website people (another interesting food plan) but i shouldn’t enable ……

also– eating sf jello or sf Kool aid= pixy stix

I am going to revisit SB based on your recommendation. I have the book in the pile ( It happened for me somewhere between Zone, Atkins and Body for Life) My problem is message confusion- I cant decide which plan is the “right” one.


nolafwug • August 21, 2008 at 10:19 am

My wackiest “diet” treat when I was low-fat crazy in college was dry cake batter and water. Thanks to the low-fat mindset I actually considered a bag of gummy worms to be a good breakfast. Why oh why?


asithi • August 21, 2008 at 12:56 pm

Sara – I think you are right about it all being in your head. Lately, I started another blog that is not related to weight loss or health. Because I am not digging up information about weight loss, I find that I really do not think too much about my eating habits anymore. And because I am not always thinking about food, I find that I do not have cravings as much.


Sarah • August 21, 2008 at 2:10 pm

You know, I’m surprised that no one had thought to do zero-calorie cotton candy. It’s a good idea: you should submit it for approval somewhere.

Don’t worry … one of my regulars at Starbucks dumps 50 packets of Splenda into her iced venti soy latte every single day.


nolafwug • August 21, 2008 at 8:57 pm

Ooh, I just saw this on thinkgeek.com and I thought of no one but you, PQ.


“Miracle Fruits (sometimes called Miracle Berries) have been a secret wonder of the world for centuries. Dissolve half a tablet on your tongue and sour and bitter foods will taste sweet. Limes will taste like the sweetest, most perfect limeade ever. Oranges (already quite sweet) tasted like they were imported from an Alien world or plucked straight from the Garden of Eden (truly, words can’t describe the life-altering sensations caused by these little tablets).”

Has anyone out there tried these?


PastaQueen • August 21, 2008 at 9:21 pm

@nolafwug – I think I read about these last year. Is it popular in Japan?


lindsey • August 22, 2008 at 1:48 pm

That’s fabulous!! Now I am dying to try it!


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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