Hi everyone, I know a lot of you have been asking me in another thread about my Aspartame Poisoning story.. so here it is.
The FIRST thing I will say, is, I don't want everyone reading this freaking out & throwing out their artificial sweetener supplies. Ideally I would like everyone to Google aspartame dangers & make the decision to give it up themselves, but I know that won't happen. I will however inform you on what COULD happen to you if you are overdoing the poison, like I was.
Before my Slimming World journey began in April, well, a long time before really - the first time being in 2008/9 I did a diet which some of you may be familiar with, called the Dukan Diet. I won't lie, the first time I did it, it was great. The weight came off SO fast & it seemed easy enough just eating protein & the sweetener sweetened up my tea to make me feel like I was having my sugar & I also put it into my Total 0% yoghurts & Quark so it was sweet, almost like cheesecake, yum! Back then I was with my long term (7yrs) partner & he was a control freak/bully & liked to drink & I could go on & on but you get the picture. I was in Uni doing my MA degree & even though by now I'd stopped the Dukan diet (once I got to my "I look fine" weight - I still used sweetener & ate as healthily as I could. I started to 'Up' my use of the sweetener, so I started to go from 2 of those small tablets in my tea, to 4 of them - NO reason for it, only that I have one hell of a sweet tooth & liked the taste. I was also upping my use of the powdered version on my Weetabix, in my Total yoghurt.. as well as guzzling Pepsi Max & eating a lot of Muller Light Yoghurts.
One day, the worst day of my life, I had a phone call in my class in Uni, from my mum to say my father was passing away. He passed away in 2010 of lung cancer which he'd battled for 5yrs. After this.. I began to eat, a lot. I felt bad because my dad had been so thin towards the end, around 6/7 stone & he was 5'8ish & there was me scoffing my face - but that was my way to deal with it. I also broke up with my boyfriend, which wasn't easy (but, the best thing I did, apart from joining SW of course)! I started to think to myself, right, if I'm eating all this food, I need to make up for it somewhere. So when I could, I would have my red milk & my weetabix - but then COVER it in sweetener. I would also have a HUGE mug of tea, but instead of two sugars I'd put 6 or so sweeteners in, yes I was up to 6 of them by now, to be honest I wasn't even counting sometimes. Basically making my brain think that I was having all this sugary goodness when I wasn't.
Moving on, I met new partner Colin (who is also doing SW with me)! I wasn't on the sweetener now - but when we both started to enjoy ourselves eating away together (take aways, chocolates at Christmas.. you name it, haha) - I started to think uh oh, the weight is coming back. I weighed myself & thought right, time to get healthy again & did the Dukan once again as a quick fix.. only this time, I had upped my sweetener to about 7 sweetener tablets in my tea, powder in the yoghurts and so on. One day I got shaky because of the NO sugar on the Dukan & Colin told me never to do it again. So I didn't, however, I did keep the sweetener supply. Powdered sweetener on my cereals, in the Total yoghurts, 7 tablets in my tea, in a big mug maybe 8.
Then everything started to slowly change. I started to get depressed. EXTREMELY depressed, over NOTHING. I would sometimes find myself crying, but if you asked me why? I wouldn't know. My weight was actually going UP & I looked all puffed up even though I was eating 'normally'. I started to feel short of breath more often & would often panic that I couldn't breathe. I also had a LOT, LOT more anxiety. My fear of the dentist became a full PHOBIA, which had me crying in the chair! I started to have migraines, BAD, BAD migraines - especially if I'd been out driving. It forced me to visit Specsavers. I wear contacts anyway, but in a space of less than a year my vision had all of a sudden jumped from a -4.50 to a -5.50 from nowhere, my optician who has known me since 14yrs old also said in the nicest possible way that I looked more 'round in the face' aka fat, lol (which wasn't nice but I knew it was true)!!
My mood & personality also changed. I didn't feel like 'me' anymore at all. It wasn't to do with weight or anything at this stage. I'm just talking about me. Some days Colin would come home & find me sitting on the stairs just crying. I also began to stutter, a lot. I have NEVER, EVER been a shy girl I am always chatty and bubbly and love a chat with the people in the local co-op. One day I went in & when I tried to talk.. I was stuttering & the frustration made me so upset. I got back in the car & cried to Colin saying "They think I'm pathetic, I couldn't talk to them, I feel stupid" - which I did. I also became short with Colin, who never does anything wrong! When I'd snap at him, I knew in the back of my head he'd done nothing.. (as us women do..) but I just picked on him!
I also had insomnia, very badly. I would stay awake from 1am up until 5am just lying there thinking about everything! The scariest moment came though one day when I came downstairs & went for my daily shower.. I got in the shower & started thinking about my dad.. then from somewhere & to this day I don't know where this little voice came from I started to call myself 'Pathetic, your dad wouldn't be proud of you, look at you' etc etc - (this was in reference to the fact that I didn't have a job but was trying my hardest since finishing my MA)! I came out the shower and came through to the front room to Colin upset as usual and he asked what was wrong. When he moved my towel, he gasped and asked what I'd done. I looked down & my chest (basically all my boobs & above) was scratched. I'd been so frustrated in the shower I had scratched myself. PLEASE believe me when I say that THIS was COMPLETELY out of character for me. COMPLETELY. I have NEVER (before this) & NEVER will again, self harm. I do not believe in it, at all.
I told Colin to call my mum & she came down afterwards & I just cried saying I "didn't understand what was happening to me". It was a VERY VERY horrible, strange feeling. Being trapped in this body that wasn't the bubbly chatty Anella (that's my name btw) - it was some moody, depressed girl. By now I was also struggling with my joints. No Joke. I am 26yrs old (25 at the time) & was holding the banister to go up the stairs & no it wasn't weight related as I was only 12 & a halfish stone (yeah overweight but not severely obese or anything). When I went walking I was short on breath & my feet would ache.
Colin & my mum sent me to the family doctor asap. When I went along.. he went down the dad route (he was my dads doctor as well). He asked me if I was depressed over my dad. I said yes.. then no.. then yes but no.. it was hard to explain. If you've lost a close one you'll understand. I do miss my dad, a LOT. I still cry the odd time, I really do, but I also remember more of the happy times. I am honestly not one to get all manic depressive about it, every single day. However, the doctor asked me a few other questions about health etc but he put the main thing as my dads passing (this was last year - & it had been 2yrs since my dad passing). He offered me anti-depressants but I refused. Sorry if I offend anyone by saying I am against them.. just my opinion.
A week or so later I had a call from the Dr asking me to come back in and see him. This was after about 4 blood tests. He sat me down & asked me straight about my 'dieting'. I said I wasn't on a diet anymore but was overweight bla bla bla. Then he asked me if I had some other symptoms which I answered yes to (all of them). He asked me if I was drinking many diet drinks & I said a few but not so many.. then I said, oh but I do use the sweetener. He nodded and half smiled and said a big 'RIGHHHT' - He asked me how much. At first I answered about 3 in my tea and some powder but he asked me how much again - he must have known I was lying & I said about 8 tablets in my tea sometimes.. and the rest.. he was shocked.
He told me I needed to cut it out of my life ASAP & detox my body (flush it out ASAP). He gave me some medicine that he normally prescribes to people with GOUT, to help my joints and also advised me to keep going for eye tests, as Aspartame Poisoning could also lead to blindness & he had seen how much my vision had gone down in a short space of time.
To cut this very, very (Sorry)! long story short, I have now been Aspartame Free since the start of this year & my speech has returned to normal, the depression has GONE completely, the anxiety, the short temper, the joint pain, headaches. My eye sight is the same for now - but only because I haven't been to check it yet (hoping it has improved)! Everything has gone. My hair is slowly growing back too.. my skin and hair both went completely dry and my hair started snapping off! I've always bleached it.. but with its condition it snapped from below my boob length to above my cheekbones which was horrible. It is growing back better than ever now though
It hasn't been easy though. Aspartame is like a a drug to me (you might laugh) but the doctor said it was like a drug addiction to me & it would be hard to give up! He wasn't lying either. In my first weeks of being aspartame free, I literally nearly cried in the isle of Tesco because I wanted some Cherry Pepsi Max!!! It was ridiculous. I begged Colin for just one bottle etc! He threw out anything that had aspartame in and even HE has given it up for me, after seeing what it did!
In my first SW meeting I had to tell my consultant about this because she was always suggesting products like Muller lights and Diet Cokes etc & all the puddings had sweetener in them. All sugar free cordials have it in. Luckily more products like the Danio yoghurts which are free of artificial sweetener & Alpen light bars are delicious! I now have my tea with honey & if I have a Total 0% yoghurt I have honey in that too The downside is I don't have a lot of exciting things to drink, literally water or tea (or milk)! I also have to check EVERY product while shopping just to make sure it's not getting back in my body! I have never felt better though!
So yeah, this is just my story of what it CAN do to you if you overdo it. Remember I had a LOT of it but I encourage everyone to do a quick google search of aspartame (they are actually trying to ban it in the US) - I would never want anyone to go through what I did, at all. What a hellish time I had. It scares me that I could have carried on and on.. I'm glad I found the cause & will never eat or drink that poison again!!
Thanks all for reading! x - I might upload some before/after photos if you like! x