blogging, food safety, weight loss journal, Wellness Center, Writing

I Should Have Listened to my Mom!


You stay on that shelf, Fresca, I'm finished with you!  (Photo from Wikipedia)
You stay on that shelf, Fresca, I’m finished with you! (Photo from Wikipedia)

I’ve mentioned in other postings that my mother was very health conscious–especially when it came to food.  We grew our own fruits and vegetables in our huge, pesticide-free garden that provided enough harvest for our immediate family, and my grandparents, for an entire year.  Our meats were purchased from local farmers, and our eggs (often gathered by me) came from my grandmother’s chickens.  Beverage consumption was simple; 99.9% of the time we drank water with our meals and when we were thirsty.  On a rare, special occasion, my mother would make a huge stoneware pitcher of iced tea, sweetened with a small amount of sugar and laced with mint leaves from our yard.  It was heavenly while it lasted, but it never seemed to last very long.  Sodas, like ginger ale, Coke, or Pepsi were presented to us as medicinal and something we were allowed to indulge in when we had a stomach virus or fever.

My maternal grandmother, had a different philosophy about food than my mother. Though she, too, made everything from scratch, she was a lot more indulgent in her use of salt, butter, and sugar.  This made a meal from her kitchen taste ten times better than anything I’d ever have at home (Sorry Mom).  Creamy mashed potatoes, decadent gravy, sweet and savory barbequed chicken, and the best Cole slaw I’ve ever tasted are memories that I have from her kitchen.  Cakes, pies, cookies, and homemade chocolate pudding were just a few of the treats she’d serve up for dessert.  Without my mom’s watchful eye, I could honestly eat myself silly at my grandmother’s house. Like most grandmothers she relished in my overindulgence and scoldingly told my mom to let me enjoy myself.

Besides all things salty, buttery and sweet, my grandmother had another vice that I was dead-set on sharing with her; Fresca.  Much to my mother’s distress, my grandmother drank this citrusy, delicious, calorie-free soda all day long.  Back then Fresca was sweetened with saccharine, my mother’s equivalent to poison.  She warned my grandmother countless times of the horrible death scenarios that would befall her if she didn’t give up her beloved beverage.  My grandmother would roll her eyes, pull the tab, and take a long swig.

I knew how good Fresca tasted;several times I’d stolen a few clandestine sips from her unattended can. On the rare occasions that my grandmother would babysit my brother and I, getting an icy juice glass full of Fresca was guaranteed.  “Don’t tell your mom I let you have it,” would be her words as she handed over the goods.  I’d try to sip it and make it last. I’d roll it’s poison sweetness over my tongue and try to decide if it tasted more like grapefruit or tangerine.

This past Monday, as I entered a convenience store to pay for gas, I passed a cooler stocked full of icy sodas.  In spite of my obsession as a child, I’ve not been much of a soda drinker as an adult.  However, with the 90 degree temperatures outside, those fizzy bottles of refreshment looked tempting. When I noticed a calorie-free Fresca in the mix, I couldn’t resist.

Back at my car, I untwisted the lid and let the cold, bubbly, citrus memories fill my mouth.  There was no one watching; no one monitoring my intake.  “Hell,”  I thought, “I could guzzle this down and go back for more.”  Luckily, my inability to drink copious amounts of fizzy things saved me from myself and I was only able to finish one bottle.

Within twenty minutes, I deeply regretted my decision.  By the time I arrived home, my stomach was killing me. By Tuesday it was worse. Wednesday, I was still suffering, and yesterday, I spent the entire day in the bathroom.  Today, my stomach is still sore, and I’m living on broth and applesauce, hoping to feel well enough by the afternoon to visit the gym.

A small amount of research taught me that Fresca is now sweetened with Aspartame and another chemical sweetener, Acesulfame Potassium.  A simple Google search showed me countess stories of Aspartame causing IBS symptoms. As a longtime sufferer of IBS (symptom free since Optifast), I know that’s exactly what’s been going on with me.

I remember when Aspartame use came into vogue, my mother insisted that it was just as poisonous as its predecessors. Though I know several people who use it, due to diabetes, and have no ill effects.  I guess it depends on the individual. Since this reaction stemmed from my first try of it, I think my mom may have had a point.

Goodbye forever, Fresca!  Hello water and plain tea!

Do you use artificial sweeteners?  Do you think they’re safe?


26 thoughts on “I Should Have Listened to my Mom!”

  1. Fortunately, I’m sweet enough. Ha ha ha. I crack me up.
    Seriously, I take my tea and coffee with milk and cream. No sugar/sweetener. That said, I think it best to give the artificial stuff wide berth.
    Hope you feel better soon!

    1. Aw! You are sweet enough! I take my tea plain and my coffee with cream and no sugar, so I’m good with that. I’m sticking with water on a hot day from now on after this reaction. I am beginning to feel better today, thank you! No soda is worth a week of convalescence!

  2. I totally agree about the aspartame. The only time I use it is in sugarless gum. Even then, I pretty much know I am probably just trying to convince myself of it not being as bad because I am not actually swallowing much of it. Then I think of what it could be doing to my sinuses by being in my mouth too long. Hmmmm….might be something to research.

    1. This was my first try with it and there won’t be a second. My mom was right, we’re not supposed to be consuming things made in a laboratory. My best friend, who knew my mom from our teen years, was the first to say that my mother is somewhere saying “I told you so” over this incident!

  3. Sorry you had such a bad reaction to your beloved Fresca! Bein’ a true hillbilly I don’t pay much mind to what I put in my body, I know I should though. Readin’ about all the good food your grandma made has now made me wanna make gravy and biscuits for supper lol Great post! 🙂

    1. My grandmother made the best gravy in the world and her biscuits were pretty darn good, too! Oh, heck! Everything she made was delicious! Grandma food is always the best!
      I hope you enjoy some delicious biscuits and gravy for supper! Have a bite for me! 🙂

  4. Momma knows best! The wisdom of our elders seem reflexively rejected by us, and I see it repeating its course with my children. You nailed it, water and tea (coffee for me). No soda, no sweeteners. Life’s sweet as it is. 🙂

    1. My grandmother lived to be 97, so I don’t think her Fresca addiction harmed her all that much. If you’re not suffering after drinking your Coke Zero, then you’re probably ok, if you’re not drinking a ton of them. 🙂 Take care! Hugs right back to you!

  5. I try to avoid all sweeteners, honestly, although I’d wager most human bodies are much better equipped–after many thousands of years–to process naturally occurring ones than ones manufactured in a laboratory! My feelings on the matter very likely came from my own mom, though I’ve no idea where she got them. Seems unlikely to have been her family …

    1. I’ll never make this mistake again! I’ll bet your mom did as mine and read the many articles available on the dangers of artificial sweeteners. She was a wise woman in so many ways, Deborah. I’m glad you’ve avoided them–smart choice. You don’t want to feel like this!

  6. That’s a great lesson learned! My husband has IBS. He drinks an occasional diet coke. I’ll tell him to look out for the appearance or worsening symptoms when he does. I would tell him to not drink it at all, but he probably won’t listen to me.

  7. I believe absolutely that artificial sweeteners are dangerous and damaging and your experience really proves the point. I made Ben read out the ingredients from a drink that he wanted the other day and tell me if he knew what any of them are? He could barely read them let alone know what they were! CHEMICALS that’s what they were, all chemical and rubbish!! sorry you had to suffer to come to this understanding xx

  8. ‘Must listen to Mother!’ Write this out 100 times!..And see me after class!
    Plus it’s so true. Whenever I’m forced to eat pre-cooked foods my stomach and general well being lets me know about it!

    1. LOL! I’m writing it! Actually, the thought of Fresca makes me feel sick. This is day six of IBS and though I’m feeling better, I’m still not 100% better and I’m scared to eat anything that’s not bland and organic. I’m drinking tons of water and trying to detox. Aspartame is very, very bad!

  9. My Nana’s kitchen fed my sweet tooth too! 😉 My parents saved dessert and treats mainly for when visitors came for dinner or for Christmas etc and we were restricted in our consumption. When I went to uni and had a casual job, that’s when the trouble really started. When I got married I lived less than a 5 minute walk from the supermarket. How I wish I had heeded my parent’s advice about food and sweet drinks. Recently I realised that I need to stop creating a culture of food and nice drinks being my “happy place” because it is going to affect my 3 year old (and already is, in his food likes). Water and tea sounds like a good plan- I can’t drink coffee without sugar yet!

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