Stevia & me don’t get along; or, a minor setback in trying to be sugar-smart.

I admit, I love my orange juice. It’s one of the few things I tend to crave when coffee or tea just aren’t doing it, and especially when I’m really thirsty and sick. I’m not a huge soda person (most of the time, anyway), so orange juice is really a morning thing I love to have.

It’s especially good because I need to take iron supplements and they go down best with orange juice (or something else with a lot of vitamin C).

I was bummed at the idea of giving up orange juice for the sake of a less-sugar living, but then I remembered that there’s a light version of orange juice out there–a couple of different brands have a low sugar option.

At least, that’s what I thought it was.

I was more than willing to give it a try, and nabbed a bottle a few days ago to drink with my supplements (and to quench my thirst a bit before work, because it was too late to make a cup, but too early to go without a drink.

Oh boy, it was NOT a pleasant experience.

I felt the taste was more than a bit off. That’s not surprising considering it’s supposed to be less sugar and all. But I was willing to give it a shot. It was an hour after I drank several ounces to wash down the iron supplements when I didn’t feel terribly good.

My stomach was a bit off that morning, and I figured that maybe I needed some caffeine or some food in me, so I didn’t think much of it. But after three mornings in a row, I can say that I can’t stand the idea of drinking any more of that orange juice with my iron supplements, and definitely not on it’s own.

I decided to take a closer look at the label and saw that the sweetening agent wasn’t some reduced amount of sugar, but was actually stevia.

Huh. That explains a lot.

I’ve given Stevia a try a few times, in coffee or other drinks, and it just left me with an off feeling. I admit, it’s the TASTE of actual real sugar that I love/hate and am addicted to, so artificial sweeteners definitely don’t work. I’ve got issues with the aftertaste.

I’d rather have no sweeteners at all in what I’m eating or drinking than some artificial ones. Which is what I thought I’d be getting with that bottle. But nope–instead of half the sugar (or none at all–that would be an interesting experiment), it was stevia.

By the third morning, I realized that i couldn’t finish the bottle, even though I hate to throw food out. I was trying to abide by the recommendations that I shouldn’t eat for around two hours after taking the supplements, in order to give time for the iron to be truly absorbed. But I had to eat after an hour because the stevia made me feel like my stomach was a hole, and there was nausea as well as a hunger headache going on.

That’s why I generally refrain from other sweetening agents. Honey and table sugar are about it, but I’ll definitely get away from the table sugar as much as I can. While it would be best to just eat an orange in the morning instead of drinking the juice… I’ve not been very good at eating healthy at home yet.

And i’m not the biggest fan of oranges themselves. If tangelos were easier to come by and not to expensive, I’d be a happy camper.

But it’s something I’m up to changing tomorrow. I have plans to go to the store, and if I can squeeze a few days in there where I take my time and can actually enjoy a vitamin-c heavy fruit with my supplements and water, then I’d better take every chance.

I’ve just gotta figure what’s available and actually make it a habit. No sugar will be tough, or at least drastically reducing it (down to just 1 tsp in a 12 oz coffee so far) will be worth it.

And I also got some cookbooks that claim to be sugar-free… I’m gonna put them to the test and make sure they don’t just “substitute” the sugar instead. I would definitely rather be without most of the time, and use the honey or table sugar really sparingly.

Well, that light OJ experiment didn’t go so well. Time to try some other things.

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