There is a lot of discussion about sweeteners and what sweeteners are healthy to eat and which ones are not. I have found this topic to be both very interesting and very divisive. The bottom line is that we try to eat things that are not processed. Beth began to use stevia in place of Equal when she was shifting her dietary habits years ago. I switched to Diet Coke sweetened with Splenda.
When we spoke to our doctors about using stevia after my cancer diagnosis, we learned a bit more about this product. Stevia is a plant whose leaves, when eaten, are slightly sweet. When stevia is used in its natural form, or the leaves are dried, crumbled and added to tea, that is one thing. But when it is chlorinated, extracted, purified, other substances are added, and it is packaged, then it becomes a processed substance. We have chosen to eliminate it in the Misner Plan. You may presume (correctly) that we have also eliminated all the artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, Equal, NutraSweet, etc.
Here are the ingredients listed on a package of Truvia: Erythitol, stevia leaf extract, natural flavors, cellulose powder, silica. Even the FDA does not consider Truvia to be stevia, but rather states on its website that it is “a highly purified product.”
I can say that I have no idea what Erythitol is. But I do know that the stevia leaf is not naturally more than just slightly sweet. I know that the extract is highly processed (roughly 40 steps to extract from a leaf) to get something that is very intensely sweet. Some companies use chemicals like acetone, methanol, and isopropanol in the extraction process. I have no idea what natural flavors are added. I have no idea why I would want cellulose powder or silica (sand), but I’m guessing it is part of the product processing–fillers, or binding agents.
As a rule, Beth and I try to eat things that come from a plant and not things that are made in a plant, as Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution, has often stated. The white powdered stevia and its companion liquid drops you can buy at the store definitely are made in a plant. They must be altered from their natural state before they can be packaged and sold to us. We do not eat them.
Here are the ingredients on the bottle of agave in our pantry: organic raw blue agave nectar—full stop—end of the list of ingredients on the bottle. We use raw agave nectar sparingly and mainly use raw honey, straight from a bee who came straight from the plant. This is the choice I’ve made for myself and that’s our thought process in making this choice. I limit my intake of these sweeteners to no more than two tablespoons total per day in my herbal teas.
When Beth is baking or making desserts, she often uses the natural sweetness of the fruits she is baking with to sweeten the muffins, pancakes or cookies. Sometimes she adds raw honey or raw coconut nectar. Using whole apples, pureed in the VitaMix, or making date syrup as sweeteners are other ways she naturally sweetens foods. We are going to be trying maguey, the sap from the agave plant. We will let you know if maguey will make it onto the Misner Plan Phase 3 food list.
Basically when we engaged fully with the Misner Plan, we found that our sense of taste shifted and went through a real change. Eventually we enjoyed our foods a lot less sweet, and we really did begin to enjoy the flavors of a wider variety of vegetables than we had become accustomed to eating. We have heard the same comment from others who have embraced the Misner Plan.
Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Misner Plan do not include any fruits or desserts, so after the first month of our eating protocol, an occasional baked apple with cinnamon felt like a real treat. We had a strong focus during that first month with measurable outcomes—weight dropping off, pH levels balancing and other issues correcting themselves, so it was not too hard to stay focused. Before we knew it, the first month was over and our tastes and habits had changed. And since we don’t eat processed sugars anymore, being tempted to order a sugary dessert at a restaurant, or a sugary blended drink/coffee just isn’t an issue. It’s just not something we eat.