My Stevia Free Lifestyle

by HEAB on April 5, 2010

Hello my almond butter loving friends. If you're new to HEAB, you may like to subscribe to my RSS feed or receive my posts via email. Thanks for reading!

So Lent officially ended yesterday, and I have yet to use any stevia. So funny as during the first few days of giving it up, I was already counting down the days until Easter when I could sweeten my coffee once again with my favorite vanilla stevia drops or make some protein ice-cream. However now, the desire is completely gone. 40 days without the sweet stuff really helped curbed my cravings for sugar and artificial sweeteners.

There were so many mornings when I would eat a sweet breakfast followed by a sweetened cup (or 2) of coffee and end up just feeling gross. Do you guys ever feel this way? Since giving up stevia, this has not happened once. A breakfast like strawberry shortcake oat bran with almond butter & whipped cream was completely normal for me…

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I never used to wake up craving savory anything, but now it’s usually all I want…like a breakfast burrito with refried beans, scrambled eggs, and salsa.

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Or egg salad made with hummus, mustard, and pickles on toast…

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I’m not saying I’ll never use stevia again, but I hope I won’t end up sneaking it into every meal like I was doing before Lent. Is stevia bad for us? Honestly, I don’t know, and there is so much conflicting information out there. One thing I do know is that my body can’t handle real sugar, and stevia seems to the best alternative. So no, it’s not banned from my life. I just hope to stay away from becoming dependent on it again.

For those of you that abstained for Lent, how did it go? What did you learn about yourself?

P.S. Don’t forget to become a fan of So Delicious on Facebook and enter my So Delicious product coupon giveaway. :)

{ 71 comments }

Beth April 5, 2010 at 10:16 am

I abstained from all meat except fish for Lent and I loved it so much that I’m sticking with it. I didn’t eat meat that much as it was, but it really opened my eyes to how many satisfying meals you can have without meat. I’m not saying I’ll never have it again because I may for special occasions, but I like not eating it on a regular basis.

homecookedem April 5, 2010 at 10:33 am

I think it’s great that you’ve been able to give up stevia completely! I hope one day I’ll back off of it a bit more. I’ve already made a lot of progress. Seriously if you backed up a few years ago, you’d shutter at the amount of artificial sweeteners I was using.

fartygirl April 5, 2010 at 10:34 am

I’m a pagan, so I don’t do Lent. Instead, we eat up all the stuff that you guys give up! Ha! Since you gave up stevia, I bought a bottle!

I got the Nu Naturals Vanilla. And you are SO RIGHT. It definitely makes you crave sweet stuff more.

At the same time, it did help me stay on my 15 grams of sugar a day diet.

Jessica @ How Sweet April 5, 2010 at 10:44 am

That is awesome that the 40 day break has curbed your sweets cravings. I must try! I rarely use splenda or stevia, but I use the regular stuff a bit too much. :)

Heather April 5, 2010 at 10:48 am

i learned that i don’t NEED meat to have delicious and healthy meals…but i do still really love it! i kind of overdid it yesterday, but it just feels good to have the OPTION to have a burger if i want one :)

Jenn April 5, 2010 at 10:54 am

I used to love stevia but then I ran out and I’m too cheap to buy more.

I didn’t eat meat and learned that meat is expensive, I get really hungry really quick without my protein and that my thighs like carbs a little too much. :- I’m doing a post later this week on the experience.

Sarah (from See Sarah Eat) April 5, 2010 at 11:20 am

I abstained from all bars (the kind you eat) during Lent and I learned that when I do start eating them again, I don’t want it to be very often and I want to stick to Larabars (minimally processed) or ones that I make myself.

I too have been craving more savory breakfasts occasionally, which for me means tofu scrambles :)

Anna April 5, 2010 at 11:29 am

Isn’t it amazing how quickly our bodies can adapt and get used to leaving certain things out of our diet?

Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday April 5, 2010 at 11:30 am

Everything in moderation, I suppose.

Brandi April 5, 2010 at 11:34 am

yay for savory breakfasts! Except for my run-in lately with this addictive white chocolate peanut butter, I LOVE savory breakfasts. Love it all.

Allie (Live Laugh Eat) April 5, 2010 at 11:36 am

I could probably use some sort of break from stevia. I use it in my coffee and I mix it with plain Greek yogurt. I try to keep it somewhat moderate but I definitely use it every day. I do steer clear of aspartame and splenda because they give me crazy sweet cravings. On the rare day that I use/drink it, I feel weird and crave sweets even more. Stevia doesn’t do that to me though. Maybe I’ll take a week off since I just ran out this morning :)

theemptynutjar April 5, 2010 at 11:37 am

I use stevia and sugar and maple syrup, etc etc.
I like all the things you showed above. So I guess I don’t do the “all or nothing”. I likely use way too much, but I think I am “good enough” if I just do a blend of all the things, no “cutting out”.
Glad to see that you found something positive though.

Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) April 5, 2010 at 11:40 am

I do love my stevia. My husband calls it my cancer drops. He figures I will end up with cancer for using it. I guess there are good and bads in just about everything. I am an everything in moderation kinda gal too…except for pancakes! I think we train ourselves to eat a certain way. You have to kind of force yourself to try things for a period of time in order to get used to them. I am not surprised that you aren’t interested in the sweet stuff as my anymore. Good job making it through!

coco April 5, 2010 at 11:40 am

i should probably do this kind of challenge one day. although I crave for savory meals than sweets, I still find myself addicted to sweetened coffee. Stevia with vanilla is the best!

Chloe April 5, 2010 at 11:46 am

It’s great that our bodies can learn to go without those sweet things as long as we give it time to adjust. I need to cut sweets out of my diet, specifically chocolate just so I can re-set my taste buds and normalize my blood sugar.
Any tips on how to do that? Maybe by setting up rewards or a time frame?

Heather Eats Almond Butter April 5, 2010 at 11:58 am

Chloe, For me, moderation with sweets doesn’t work. I’m pretty much all or nothing, and usually just try and so “no”, period. However, I do love chocolate. Usually just stick to the really dark stuff though. I have no problems with dark chocolate.

Little rewards for myself always seem to work for me, but don’t use food as a reward – how about a new pair of shoes or something along those lines instead if you reach your goals? :)

Colleen April 5, 2010 at 11:50 am

Congrats on your Stevia success. I gave up my daily morning cup of coffee (or two) and found it amazingly easy to do. I have started to enjoy a variety tea instead – I may have started another addiction, my collection of tea has grown exponentially in 40 days. Now that Lent is over I plan on looking at coffee as a treat rather than a daily occurrence.

Diana April 5, 2010 at 11:55 am

I always crave sweet breakfasts! Maybe I’ll start eating savory just to see if I like it. :)

Evan Thomas April 5, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I find the more I cut sweet out in any way the more savory I crave. At the same time, it takes a lot to get off the crack in the first place.I don’t know that I could ever fully give sweetness up, and I definitely need those extra carbs for energy. I do try to embrace as many non-sweet flavors as I can find when I find them, though

Anna (twelve22) April 5, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I didn’t do Lent, but I did stop putting sweetener in my coffee a while back — maybe over a year ago, now. Every now and then, when I get coffee at a restaurant, I forget that I no longer drink it with sugar, and put some in before I can stop myself, and then I’m always disappointed by how sweet it tastes!

theprocessofhealing April 5, 2010 at 12:08 pm

The success that you had from staying away from Stevia is really cool and interesting! It’s crazy how our bodies will stop craving things sometimes.

Ana April 5, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I became a fan of So Delicious on Facebook on the day you did your first post about it!
Heather, I also don’t do well with sugar. It is ridiculous, I get an instant headache after I eat something with sugar in it, especially desserts outside the house (omg I always find things soooo sweet when I eat out, one of the reasons I never order dessert).
I discovered the stevia drops recently and they helped me give out splenda, but lately I also cut my stevia consumption dramatically. I really wish to cut out sweeteners off my diet and so far it has been working well, slowly but I am getting there!
I too believe in everything in moderation so when I crave ice cream I eat it, the real thing, cream, sugar and all, so good! Lately though I have been making soft serve in my blender with bananas and real fruit, it is sweet just by itself with the fruit, the perfect natural treat!
Ana

eatmovelove April 5, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I use it alot. I know it’s not good to be attached to stuff – freedom comes from non-attachement. But I aim for variety.

Great job!

thecrucialjourney April 5, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Does agave affect you in the same way sugar does? I have seen conflicting opinions about it lately.

Heather Eats Almond Butter April 5, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Thecrucialjourney, Fructose is not my friend. My body can’t handle it, and so I never buy agave nectar which is 90% fructose I think. I do eat it in agave sweetened ice-creams from time to time, but otherwise, I try and avoid the stuff altogether. Just because it’s “all natural and raw” doesn’t mean our bodies don’t react to it in the same way that they do to sugar.

melissa @ the delicate place April 5, 2010 at 12:31 pm

bravo on completing the 40 day stevia free streak!! i’ve been doing much better making savory breakfasts lately but i think i might have to nix my stevia. it makes me crave protein cake & so so so much peanut butter or a metric ton of greek yogurt and then i’m all bloated :( today sounds like a good day to start no? :)

Heather Eats Almond Butter April 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Melissa, Yes, perfect day to start. :)

Alyson @ Nourished Fitness April 5, 2010 at 12:36 pm

I also tend to want sweet items in the morning, and adding excessive stevia and fake sweetened creamer to my coffee has gotten a little silly. That’s wonderful that you’ve seen a difference in your tastes. It gives me hope.. guess I’ll just have to try cold turkey.. perhaps hold my own “lent” :p

Suzanne April 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I learned that after 40 days without alcohol, my tolerance goes down A LOT! I feel like I’m 17 again, getting drunk off of two beers! But seriously, I learned that I can go to happy hour and have a good time without drinking, and that I don’t miss being hungover one bit!

Betherann April 5, 2010 at 1:01 pm

In high school I was a Skittles FANATIC. I would eat pack after pack of the things. My junior year I decided to give them up for Lent. I’ve never felt a Skittles craving since, and have also barely eaten them since (which, if you were wondering, is going on a decade now — wow! I feel old…sort of). Maybe that is going to be your stevia story!

Lara (Thinspired) April 5, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Wow Heabs, this really does give me hope that one can change or train their tastebuds. Maybe I can stop eating rice for 40 days and see if it starts to sound unappealing. Hmmm, unlikely, but perhaps possible ;)

I hope you and CD had a lovely holiday weekend!

Jordan April 5, 2010 at 1:10 pm

I don’t typically use the microwave ( I feel like the rays to cook it are making my food all radioactive-scifi creepout-like) but when the cold winter came around this year, cold/room temp wasn’t doing it and I found myself using the work microwave too much. I cut it out for Lent and now that the weather is getting warmer I don’t think I’ll have to worry about using it again until the winter comes back around. Congrats on your sticktoitiveness with Stevia abstinence. Kudos!

Marcia April 5, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Ah, pickles…I love pickles.

Great job!!

The Foodie Diaries April 5, 2010 at 1:20 pm

gah, im becoming SO dependent on stevia. i admire your turn-around. can’t imagine my morning with my vanilla drops… :(

Holly April 5, 2010 at 1:59 pm

i am trying to cut back on the sugar. not only because my obnoxious personality doesn’t need another reason to be hyper, but because i do sometimes feel lethargic when i’ve had too many sweets.

here’s hoping i last past day one…

have a great monday :)

Heather @ Get Healthy With Heathee April 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm

That’s wonderful that you were able to stay away from stevia for 40 days! I can just imagine how it would curb your sweet tooth. I find that if I have sweets at a certain time of the day my body wants it then the next day too. It’s funny how our bodies are, such creatures of habit.

tosha25italia April 5, 2010 at 2:16 pm

That’s so great it became a life change! isn’t that the point? (but rarely happens) – great job!

Sarah April 5, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I gave up using stevia (and all artificial sweeteners) about 6 months ago since it always seemed to spark appetite cravings in me for moremoremore everything. Plus I did some reading somewhereorother that said it had some effects on insulin that weren’t all great, which is is something about my body that I have enough difficulty with as it is. I feel a lot more stable without it in my life, and now on the (super rare) occasions that I do have a sweet treat, it is is made with real sugar/maple syrup/honey. Just not a lot of it :)

luckytastebuds April 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Hi heather!! I commend you for doing SO well and not cheating, going 40 days without your favorite sweetener. I find it so educational and interesting that once you stop sweetening things up, your savory tongue kicks in. I have yet to reach that level…I can’t go wihtout a sweet breakfast, but when i’m staaarving, all i want is savory. :)

I didn’t participate in giving anything up for lent. I did take up an exercise routine 5 days a week though! :P heheheh I’m sorry that’s cheating and not answering your question huh?

purelicious April 5, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I totally know what you mean about learning things about yourself during lent. I actually just wrote a post about this exact same thing! For lent, I went 100% vegan. What I realized was that although this was supposed to be a “sacrifice” of giving up meat and dairy, it was actually the most indulgent thing I had ever done for my health, as I felt super energized and healthy the whole time. Then, on Easter day, when I allowed myself to “indulge” in a boatload of dairy-laden pastries and sweets, I actually felt pretty gross, and realized this loss of my healthy feeling was really a bigger sacrifice. Post-lent, I’m not going to continue being 100% vegan though, but will definitely strike a better balance with foods now that I know how good being vegan felt. Kind of like how you will now use some Stevia, but from the sounds of it, much less often. Definitely interesting how sometimes giving things up can make you realize how little you needed them in the first place! :)

Mama Pea April 5, 2010 at 3:04 pm

I need to try to cut back on the stevia myself. I’ve noticed the amounts I am using is creeping up there and it is almost at generic Splenda levels of consumption. I’m not sure if I should go cold turkey, or just try to cut it in half and wean…or I could just say the heck with it and be glad it’s not Splenda or sugar?!

Heather Eats Almond Butter April 5, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Mama Pea, I do have to say that cutting back has made a huge difference for me. I feel so much better and I’m no longer a slave to those sugar cravings.

chariander April 5, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Congrats on making it the whole 40 days! Like you, I’d be inclined to keep the streak alive:) Sweet stuff is the hardest craving for me to avoid. And I do think artificial sweeteners or even no-cal natural sweeteners like Stevia are a sort-of gateway drug. I once went 3 months without sweetening anything – I remember eating an almond and being blown away by its sweetness! – but then I fell off the wagon. And fell hard. Now I’m fighting a mean jelly bean addiction again. Sigh.

Katie April 5, 2010 at 3:36 pm

The sweeter I make things one time, the sweeter they get the next time. I don’t do sweet breakfasts, but my smoothies have been getting more and more stevia added to them. Have you heard of frutose malabsorption? I was just reading about it a week ago or so. Interesting the way our bodies work, no?

Heather Eats Almond Butter April 5, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Katie, I have heard of fructose malabsorption, but I’m not that familiar with it. Yes, our bodies are so mysterious, and I love trying to figure out what works best for mine. Always a work in progress.

Angharad April 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm

It’s so weird how sweeteners, etc affect us, isn’t it? If I have a sweet breakfast then I will no doubt be craving the sugary stuff all day and yet, that really is often what I want at breakfast. I love myself some eggs but I always come back to sweet. I wonder why…

I think I need to try and think of some super duper appetizing savoury alternatives to ween myself off!

KC April 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Problem with artificial anything is that it’s not natural and we’re not sure what effects it could have on our bodies in the long run.
For lent I gave up high fructose corn syrup. I normally don’t eat anything with hf corn syrup in it anyway, but it was amazing to see how many products it slipped into! Like certain yogurt and graham crackers.
Maybe you could try honey or brown sugar as a sweetener?

jenny April 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Funny how once you give something up, the desire can go away pretty quickly!

jenny (green food diaries) April 5, 2010 at 5:28 pm

I have been sneaking in way too much stevia too, into my nut milk and no-fruit green smoothies… I’m thinking I should rely more on coconut/coconut water, which is naturally sweet.

How do you make your egg salad Heather? I’ve never grown up eating egg salad, and I’m curious how you make it. I’ve been having intense egg cravings lately.

Heather Eats Almond Butter April 5, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Jenny, Oh my gosh – love egg salad. I chopped up two hard boiled eggs and stir in a large spoonful of Trader Joe’s Smooth & Creamy hummus (my favorite), a squirt of mustard, and some chopped dill pickles. So easy and very addictive. Let me know if you try it!

Alisa - Frugal Foodie April 5, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Congrats Heather! That is so great. I would love to ween myself from those sweet cravings in the morning. It seems like that is my biggest carb craving time – not that it ends then though :)

Katherine: What About Summer? April 5, 2010 at 6:07 pm

I always feel slightly selfish or unholy putting sweeteners on my food because I figure, if it’s not good enough to eat plain, why am I eating it? You’re great at putting healthy things into your body, but don’t forget a good treat too! there’s so much more to worry about right? :)
Katherine
whataboutsummer

Daniel April 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm

I gave up calorie counting and swearing for Lent and my Mother gave up drinking soda. So far neither of us have gone back to our old habits and I’m so happy that I finally broke the cycle of counting on my second attempt, it feels so good. I was very proud of my Mom for quitting that artificial-sweetener soda habit too!

Pure2raw twins April 5, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Oh I love my stevia, I am not sure if I could go without, but you have convinced me otherwise!!

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 5, 2010 at 8:38 pm

6 mos ago, I thought stevia tasted like chemical soup. 3 mos ago I feel in love with it. It took my agave consumption from a bottle a week to a bottle that’s lasted 3 mos and still half left. However, I just read mama pea’s comment, my stevia consumption is going up, not down. I like it though :) I feel like it’s my last bastion, as gluten, dairy, soy, meat, alcohol etc are not a part of my life. If the worst i do is stevia, I still feel I am “okay” but yes, too much wreaks GI havoc for me. Sorrry bout TMI :)

Love you Heabie!!!!!!!!

annecalista April 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm

You are an inspiration. I am going to try to cut back on sweetening things (like coffee, and oats…). I do leave out the sweetener once in awhile, but I’m not consistent. And I know that the body can get adjusted to a lower level of sweetness, because I got myself off of a serious sugar addiction a few years ago (as in, I could still eat candy). I love your style of eating and I’m going to try out some of your recipes!

yogiclarebear April 5, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Heather,

I quietly stopped with the stevia too. I sweeten just a few things now. No longer EVERY SINGLE thing I eat, like I was. I was totally addicted and overdosing! Now, I crave the taste of the FOOD instead of the sweetness. I love plain plain Greek yogurt now, and plain cereals too. I feel better (like I have control) and my stomach feels better too.

I didn’t do this for Lent or anything, just cuz. So glad for you and me! :)

Trail (Oven Aversion) April 5, 2010 at 10:31 pm

So glad you had a successful Lent! I didn’t give up anything, so I can’t say I really learned anything.

I love the idea of cutting down the sugars to reduce those cravings.

ozlem April 6, 2010 at 5:59 am

Hi Heather,

I was reading your blog as usual. I love your blog even though I have to admit some of your concoctions are way out there for me. I am scared to try them they look amazing but I am not sure if they will taste amazing. But I do want to try the egg salad with hummus what an awesome idea. The few times that I tried your recipes I was not disappointed to say the least.

I am still struggling with my sugar habit. It is really bad. I am not eating a ton but for instance I am now on a nutella craz. it is killing me. I know it is bad for me, why am I doing this to myself??

Anyway, I was reading your blog and saw that you said your body cant handle sugar? Can you explain that further please?? How do you know that?? What happens? I wish it would happen to me, or does it??

Ohh.. I am so disappointed in myself. Oh and I also had a Milano craz last week. I hate myself.

Thanks.

Ozlen

Heather Eats Almond Butter April 6, 2010 at 7:05 am

Ozlen, Don’t hate yourself. We’ve all been there. I’ll email you. :)

eatmovelove April 6, 2010 at 6:58 am

Do you intend to stay off it now then – since you say your usually all or nothing?
How would you prepare your teas or ice creams without the sweet stuff??!!:)

Heather Eats Almond Butter April 6, 2010 at 7:33 am

Eatmovelove, No, I don’t plan to never have stevia again, I just hope to not use it at almost every meal like I was doing.

Gabriela (froyolover) April 6, 2010 at 7:05 am

Congrats on surving Lent, Heather!
Hahahaha – I knew you could do it :)
Have a great week, girl!
Brazilian XOXO┬┤s,
Gabriela

Sarah April 6, 2010 at 7:27 am

I used stevia. But my husband and I are trying to conceive, and after 6 months of no luck, I decided to quit using stevia because I’d read conflicting reports about its effect on fertility. I did use a little splenda for awhile, because it’s approved for pregnancy (I know, my reasoning was terrible), but now I don’t really use any sweeteners. And I’m liking it!
I’m enjoying reading your posts because they are inspiring, give me ideas, and encourage me in the no-sweetener direction I am going.
Thanks, Heather!

Sagan April 6, 2010 at 8:49 am

Mmm your breakfasts look delicious.

Good on you for ditching the stevia, at least for a little while. I don’t like the taste of it and I’m somewhat skeptical on the health benefits. If I want something sweet, I get it via fruit, or else honey/maple syrup.

J April 6, 2010 at 11:28 am

What type of tortillas do you use? Do you follow a gluten free diet? I am looking for options in this area.

Heather Eats Almond Butter April 6, 2010 at 11:35 am

J, I do not follow a gluten free diet. That tortilla pictured above is a whole wheat tortilla from Trader Joe’s. Some Trader Joe’s sell rice flour tortillas that are pretty good, and Whole Foods has a gluten free tortilla selection in their frozen bread cooler.

Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) April 7, 2010 at 9:59 pm

To Stevia or NOT to Stevia- THAT is the question…. Yes, I stevia. But I have cut back thanks to you and Thinny. I even had tea the other day that had nothing in it-= actually twice. So that’s better. Sadly, then I stopped at 7-11 and got a super big gulp of diet coke. That wrecked my goodness for about a month :-/

But it was goooooooooooooooooooooooooood.

Gena April 8, 2010 at 10:01 am

I’m delighted that Stevia exists as an option: I definitely use it when I want a touch of sweetness (in a salad dressing, for example) but don’t really need dates or agave. That said, I think the habit of pouring stevia all over everything just perpetuates a sweet tooth — something to write about soon, I think! Anyway, way to challenge yourself.

yoda April 8, 2010 at 3:33 pm

I’m wondering what brand of stevia you used because most contain sugar alcohols and/or forms of sugar, but pure stevia can actually help curb cravings for sweets not cause them like artificial sweeteners. I use SweetLeaf brand of stevia, and have noticed this for me. Pure stevia is very health promoting. The leaf contains 100 different nutrients, which is why it curbs sweet cravings, but with additives that are used in most products this benefits is probably negated, or at best reduced along with other benefits.

Heather Eats Almond Butter April 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Yoda, The best tasting stevia I’ve ever found is NuNaturals – no funky aftertaste.

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