The verdict about artificial sweeteners is still out – the controversy still fuels much debate on both sides. One can find articles that support the use and “safety” of such products and one can find articles that support the argument that they are dangerous and unsuitable for human consumption – I mean holes in rats’ brains is pretty conclusive to me, but that’s just me!
So I was journaling this morning and although I do not use artificial sweeteners in my food or drinks I had this revelation – I do use artificial sweeteners for my soul. Let me explain…
You see God designed us with specific needs that are housed deep within us –
the need for unconditional love,
the need for safety and security,
the need for affirmation and encouragement,
the need to belong and be accepted,
the need to be cared for and nurtured,
the need for significance and worth,
the need for community with others and God.
All these needs are found deep within every soul that takes its first breath on this beautiful blue-green planet. All of these LEGITIMATE needs that must be met for a person to be whole and healthy. Each need designed to be met by God and in His provision for us.
Back in the day we are told that Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the day, they were provided for in the safety of garden, given dominion over everything and called to rule and subdue the earth. Through God and His provision within the garden and in each other – Adam and Eve were completely and perfectly cared for. Paradise!
And then that dang snake ruined it all…for all of us!
A little deception, a little bending of the truth,
a little twist in the story to confuse and distract
and the rest is history.
Relationship with God forever changed – mankind left searching to meet God-given needs in the broken things and people of this world.
And so we anesthetize in an effort to stop the madness, to kill the pain, to fill the void.
We turn to money, to careers, to children, to adventure, to drugs, to escape, to food, to social media, to relationships to make it all feel better. Looking for needs to be satisfied we search in the broken, unfulfilled souls of others grasping for something to hold on to, something to make us whole…artificial sweeteners!!
I search for my needs in the holes of this world – searching to belong – I dance in “friendships” not meant for my soul, I show up at events that leave me disappointed, I help and serve and offer with unknowing expectations. Artificial sweeteners.
A few interesting facts about artificial sweeteners I think you should know:
They trick your taste buds.
Artificial sweeteners are 100s, sometimes 1000s, of times sweeter than sugar. Evidence suggests that exposing your taste buds to these high-intensity sweeteners dulls them and makes them less receptive to natural sources of sweetness such as fruit.
They trick your gut.
Your gut gets confused when you eat artificial sweeteners. The sweet taste sends a signal to your gut that something high calorie is on its way, releasing hormones readying the body for these foods. When those foods don’t arrive, your gut gets confused sending signals that interfere with your body’s natural hunger signals.
They mess with your hormones.
Sweet foods, even if they have zero calories, trigger your body to release insulin as if you’d eaten sugar. Insulin leads to blood sugar spikes, which increase cravings. Artificial sweeteners prevent your body from producing GLP-1, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels and the feelings of satiety leaving you feeling hungrier and causing you to eat more.
They make you overeat.
Artificially sweetened foods trick you into overeating because of they way they feel in your mouth. High fat, high sugar foods taste both sweet and dense and send a signal to your brain that they’re packed with calories. Artificially sweetened foods often have a thinner consistency and texture and are less satisfying.
You know on some level we are all just trying to make it out of this world without too many scars. Everyone, for the most part, is doing the best they can. People give what they can offer and to put our expectations on another is simply not fair.
That’s hard not to do though. I expect people to reciprocate gratitude, kindness, respect, generosity, thoughtfulness…I do this, so why don’t they? I wrestle and search filling with the artificial to sweeten the bitterness that looks to take root.
Just like those sweeteners that leave your mouth and stomach searching so it is with our souls when we try and fill it with the artificial. We are left lacking…searching for more…unsatisfied…heavy…disillusioned…confused…empty.
People were never meant to provide for us in the way that only God can. He is the tender of our hearts, He is the One with all we need. He has what we crave and He has it to overflowing!
He is the sweetness our souls longs for.
Psalm 103: How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
He never tires of wooing, of trying to catch your eye and hold your affection –
your favorite song on the radio,
a hummingbird dancing outside your window,
kindness from a friend,
a carpet of wildflowers on a long drive,
an unexpected smile from a stranger,
the perfect podcast message right on time,
a rainbow on a cloudy day,
the quiet before the dawn of a new day.
He loves to impress you and never tires of romancing you-
He’s just that kind of guy!!