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Do Artificial Sweeteners And Fruit Count As Sugar?

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Do Artificial Sweeteners And Fruit Count As Sugar?

Bright Line Eating Founder, Susan Peirce Thompson, Debunks Some Common Myths
Susan Peirce Thompson Ph.D.
Susan Peirce Thompson Ph.D. More by this author
Mar 27, 2017 at 03:15 PM

When I was trying to lose weight, it totally baffled me that I couldn’t do it—because I was capable in so many other areas. I had earned a Ph.D. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. I had good friends, and I was happily married. I ran a marathon. I was fat when I ran that marathon, but I ran it nonetheless.

We have an obesity mystery. The problem itself doesn’t make any sense. There’s no other field of endeavor that I’m aware of where intelligence, determination, talent, and capability have so little bearing on the outcome.

So after I completed my Ph.D. I continued to delve deeper into weight loss and addictions to become an expert in the psychology of eating. What I have come to believe is that being over-weight or obese is not a willpower deficit and not a moral shortcoming, but rather, the by-product of a brain hijacked by modern food.

The modern diet wires our brain to work against us, but we can rewire it to work for us. We are not weak. We are not stupid. We are simply trapped on a chemical hamster wheel and haven’t been given the tools to get off. Until now.

In my book, Bright Line Eating, I give you all the science you need to understand what is happening inside your brain that is blocking your weight loss, and how the Standard American Diet hijacks our hormones and neurotransmitters, leaving us with insatiable hunger, overpowering cravings, and vulnerable to something I call the Willpower Gap.

Bright Line Eating solves those problems by literally rewiring your brain to work with your goals, not against them. Bright Line Eating will change your life and end your dieting cycle forever.

The Four Bright Lines:

  • Eliminate Flour
  • Eliminate Sugar
  • Plan your Meals
  • Watch your Quantities

Today I would like to focus on just one; sugar.

This is really the cardinal Bright Line. Without it, none of the others are effective, because you have to take sugar out of the equation to allow the brain—and therefore the body—to heal.

To be clear, by sugar I mean all ADDED sugar. It appears as dozens and dozens of names on ingredient lists, including but not limited to: cane sugar, beet sugar, date sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, evaporated cane juice, rice syrup, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, agave, maple syrup, molasses, sucrose, dextrose (indeed, anything ending in -ose), maltitol, glycerine, malted barley extract, and maltodextrin.

Any food containing any of these ingredients has to be eliminated because all refined forms of fructose and glucose hit our insulin system harder than our bodies were designed to withstand. Elevated baseline insulin levels then block leptin, leading to insatiable hunger and sedentary behavior. And the sugar pounds our dopamine receptors, leading to downregulation and overpowering cravings. In order for your brain to heal, your insulin and dopamine systems must be allowed to rest so they can recalibrate back to their original settings.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are a scourge. True, they have zero calories so the body cannot use them for fuel, but they impact the insulin system just the same as sugar. The sweet taste hits the tongue and causes a dopamine surge and insulin response even though no corresponding calories are forthcoming.

Don’t be fooled. Artificial sweeteners will absolutely derail your weight-loss success. By artificial sweeteners I mean saccharine, NutraSweet, aspartame, sucralose, xylitol, sorbitol, and, yes, stevia and Truvia. In addition, many nonfood products containing artificial sweeteners, like diet soda and sugarless gum, will keep you hooked on the behavior of putting something in your mouth as a crutch to get through the day.

Stevia Leaf

Take a deep breath and let them go.


The good news is that fresh fruit is just fine. In fact, fruit is wonderful! I am happy to say that you can eat any and all varieties of whole, fresh fruit. The fructose in fresh fruit doesn’t impact the brain and body like refined sugar does because when you eat a piece of fruit, you eat fiber as well. Fruit’s fiber lattice is composed of soluble and insoluble fiber that slow the absorption of the fruit’s natural sugar into the bloodstream, blunting insulin and dopamine responses.

What we shouldn’t eat is dried fruit, fruit juice, or blended fruit. In each of these, the sugar content is more concentrated than the fiber lattice can inhibit.

Imagine sitting down and eating six fresh apricots, for example. It would probably take you quite a few minutes and you’d most likely start to get bored with eating them before you could even get through them all. Now imagine eating six dried apricots. You could do that in seconds, and the only thing you’d be thinking is, “MORE!” Remember, we want to keep that part of your brain, those dopamine receptors, quiet.

Stay away from dried fruit

And I get asked all the time whether juicing and smoothies are allowed. The answer is no.

Once you take that whole fruit—or vegetable, as the case may be—and put it in a blender or juicer, you shred the fiber lattice, leaving all that fructose and glucose free to hit your system as fast as if you’d consumed a piece of candy.


The next thing that I’m usually asked is, “If I quit sugar, won’t I have cravings?” Yes, you will. At the beginning, Bright Line Eating is very similar to quitting smoking. But the cravings will go away. Not instantly, but by the end of my eight-week Boot Camp, 84 percent of people report having few or no cravings anymore— ever. Some people, like me for instance, experience cravings for a while longer, but I promise, I promise, they go away. The craving is just the last-ditch effort of your hijacked brain to get you back on the sauce. But you will become stronger than that.

Bright Line Eating ushers in an end to cravings, an end to dieting, an end to that constant, exhausting, soul-sucking loop in your head about food and calories and pounds. I have no interest in getting you Thin if you’re not also going to be Happy and Free. Living Happy, Thin, and Free is your birthright. I do it. My Boot Campers are doing it. And you can, too.

For more about Bright Line Eating and FREE weight loss resources, visit my website Bright Line Eating.


About Author
Susan Peirce Thompson Ph.D.
Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester and an expert in the psychology of eating. She is President of the Institute for Sustainable Weight Loss and the founder Continue reading