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8 Aug

A Cranky Crab Confesses: Yes, I Use Splenda!

A Letter from Crabby McSlacker

Crabby McSlacker, who hosts Cranky Fitness, is a great admirer of Mark’s Daily Apple. There is so much nutritional information, so much sensible advice, so much to learn here! And she finds herself strangely drawn to the Fuming Fuji, who seems so adorable even when raging, raving, and ranting.

And yet, as much as she admires this site and all its bright and engaged and healthy readers… Crabby admits that she is sometimes afraid to visit. She arrives and leaves again shaking her head, muttering to herself in amazement.

Who are these people? They seem so happy to eat nothing but salads and healthy proteins! They drink their glasses of ice water or sip from their cups of unsweetened green tea and never seem to miss their Cokes, diet or otherwise, let alone their milkshakes or their margaritas! And where, oh where, are the cupcakes?

Crabby's Cupcakes from Cranky Fitness

While Crabby is in complete agreement that the average American diet is unhealthy and toxic; that people eat way too many refined and processed and artificial food; and that generally, “natural” is better; she still can’t believe that you folks can eliminate all that stuff and claim to be completely happy about it!

Perhaps you are a special subspecies of Human.

Crabby eats healthy like you folks about 90% of the time. Most people she knows find this very annoying and consider her a “health freak” because of it. But 10% of the time she eats Complete Crap! She loves cupcakes and ice-cream and beer-battered onion rings and juicy, grease-dripping cheeseburgers. She can also happily enjoy fakey low-fat ice creams and Splenda-sweetened cookies and preservative-packed low calorie whole wheat breads and a whole host of “compromise” products.

How can she possibly justify this?

Here are two main philosophical differences she detects between Cranky Crabs and Green Apples, and she wonders if this is part of the reason for their varied eating habits. Because Crabby believes:

Life Is Too Short Not To Be Sweet!

Sure, fresh ripe berries are sweet. But they’re not sweet like hot fudge sundaes. And as much as Crabby loves fresh fruit and sautéed vegetables and crunchy almonds and grilled prawns, she thinks a warm plate of Toll House cookies with a cold glass of milk on the side tastes about a hundred times better. (And yes, she knows you do allow yourselves your meager little squares of very bitter dark chocolate that’s 98% cocoa or whatever. That’s fine but it’s not a proper substitute for a Toll House Cookie).

Here’s the thing: Crabby doesn’t even want to become someone who no longer enjoys Toll House Cookies! She doesn’t eat them often – but she derives such a profound pleasure from them they would have to kill her right there on the spot before she would think of giving them up for good. And she feels that way about a bunch of other treats that many of you folks claim you no longer even enjoy.

The additional time Crabby might hypothetically add to her lifespan by becoming a person who never eats a Krispy Kreme donut, as opposed to someone who occasionally eats a Krispy Kreme donut? Be her guest – you can have it.

So here is the second philosophical difference we have. Crabby believes:

“Natural” Is Often, But not Always, Healthier.

For one thing, Crabby thinks it is perfectly natural to crave sugar and bad fat. Cavemen and Cavewomen would have been thrilled to find a Dairy Queen or a McDonald’s out in the woods! They needed as many calories as they could get back then, and Crabby believes we have evolved accordingly to crave and appreciate highly caloric foods.

However, as we all agree, that craving doesn’t suit our lifestyles any longer. Too much saturated fat and trans fat and sugar and refined grains will do all kinds of terrible things to our bodies over time.

So, unless Crabby is willing to give up all her greatest culinary pleasures (she is not; see above), she seeks compromise. A sweetener like Splenda that has survived hundreds of safety tests and is accepted by major health organizations (that many of you don’t trust) like The American Diabetes Association or The Mayo Clinic, seems, while not without possible risks, less scary than a lot of other things. Especially if used in moderation.

For example, Crabby sometimes adds canned pumpkin to her yogurt in the morning to sneak in a breakfast vegetable. By itself, this combination tastes sour and awful. But dump in some pumpkin pie spices, and vanilla, and a bunch of evil Splenda, and suddenly, it tastes like a dessert! To Crabby, this is a sensible use of an artificial sweetener. Would she have the healthy pumpkin without any sweetening? No, she certainly wouldn’t.

And the alternative sweeteners aren’t without risks either. Sugar is very bad for you. And Stevia, as well as many of the other natural alternatives out there, haven’t gone through nearly as much testing as Franken-foods like Splenda to assure us they’re safe either. Are they dangerous? Probably not, but how do we know?

Oh, because a substance is “natural” you don’t think it needs testing? Try eating three or four cloves of nutmeg: that can kill you. For that matter, so can rock climbing, or spending too many years hiking in the “natural” sunshine without “artificial” sunscreens, if you happen to end up with melanoma. And back when cavemen got nasty infections? They got dead. We get a little vial of “artificial” pills and we go out the next day and hit the trail and go for a run.

Has Crabby gotten you all annoyed yet? She really does agree with you all about 90% of the time – she just suspects that this other little 10% could get you all a bit riled. If so, feel free to give her a piece of your extremely healthy, agile, natural minds!

Further reading:

The Fuming Fuji Says No to Breakfast Cereal!

Jabba the Hut Returns?

Mark on “Caveman” and “Cavewoman”

Subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple feeds

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I thought splenda caused cancer?

    brett wrote on August 8th, 2007
  2. Crabby is awesome.

    There’s nothing “meager” about extra-dark chocolate, though. The word you’re looking for is “HARDCORE”.

    Chicken Girl wrote on August 8th, 2007
  3. Crabby-It would be a great thing if people followed the 90% healthy rule. Even 70% would be good. I wish on occassion I could sit down to a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies or a hot fudge sundae. Sometimes I do and I usually feel like crap and always have regrets. I am much happier eating dark chocolate and berries.

    Crystal wrote on August 8th, 2007
  4. I agree, even 70% would be an improvement. Too bad our entire food supply/marketing/advertising is all encouraging the opposite!

    Sara wrote on August 8th, 2007
  5. Loved this post! Reminds me that its ok to be imperfect sometimes! Sometimes eating something thats ‘psychologically’ pleasing also does us good, though it may not be best for you. Now, wheres my beer and brownie?!

    Moe wrote on August 8th, 2007
  6. My belief is that aspartame is dangerous to our health. I use Stevia.
    I eat 70 – 85% dark chocolate and naturally sweet fruit. Eating sugary stuff will bring down your immune system.

    Donna wrote on August 8th, 2007
  7. Splenda is the brand name for sucralose, an excitoxin. Retired neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock wrote a book a few years ago detailing the long-term health risks of consumption of excitoxins artificial sweeteners and MSG.

    I, too, have a sweet tooth that I occasionally indulge but not with Splenda. My favorite sweetener is maple. It’s sweet and it has its own unique flavor. When I want to leave a sweet taste on my palate after a meal, I eat a teaspoonful of maple butter. It’s so rich and sweet, a little bit is enough to satisfy the palate. Since almost everything else I eat during the day contains no added sweeteners, I don’t sweat a teaspoon of maple syrup or butter.

    Sonagi wrote on August 9th, 2007
  8. Hey Crabby,

    Great post. I’m all for the 90/10 ratio although in my case it’s probably 80/20 at best.
    I say eat full fat and real sugar, but eat less of ’em. They fill you up faster (the fat anyway)than all this diet food for dieting’s sake nonsense.
    There. I’ve said it. Have at me if you will.

    Leah J. Utas wrote on August 9th, 2007
  9. I confess, I miss Margaritas.

    Oxybeles wrote on August 9th, 2007
    • Try my pb-friendly margarita recipe:

      Sofa King Mango Cilantro Margarita

      Alterations: Mango Jalapeno Margarita, Blackberry Thyme Margarita)


      1 mango, peeled, sliced, chopped
      1/2 cup cilantro
      1 cup 100% blue agave silver tequila
      6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
      3 tablespoons agave syrup (optional)
      4 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
      4 cups ice cubes, divided


      Place mango and cilantro in medium bowl. Smash with muddler or back of wooden spoon. Mix in tequila, lime juice, agave syrup, and Cointreau, then 1 cup ice. Stir to blend well. Strain into large glass measuring cup. Divide remaining ice between 2 tall glasses. Pour Margarita mixture over.

      Alteration for Mango Jalapeno Margarita:

      To make Mango Jalapeno Margarita, substitute 1 sliced jalapeño chile with seeds for the cilantro.

      To make Blackberry Thyme Margarita, substitute 16 large blackberries for the mango and handful of thyme for the cilantro.

      Jolie Kat wrote on June 22nd, 2011
  10. Gosh, you folks are so nice and reasonable and friendly over here, even to cupcake-eating, unreformed Splenda users!

    Thanks for having me, and I’ll try to sweep up all those those tell-tale empty yellow packets I’ve left lying around around.

    Crabby McSlacker wrote on August 9th, 2007
  11. Sonagi, nice maple syrup idea. I’ll try it. I usually go for a little honey and almond butter.

    Sara wrote on August 9th, 2007
  12. I workout like a fiend, try to eat healthy, and yet still enjoy every single morsel of that creme-filled Krispy Kreme. And Crabby, I think of your 90/10 rule all the time. I even find myself occasionally evaluating my days, “whoa. that was like a 30/70 day-let’s get back on track!”

    katieo wrote on August 9th, 2007
  13. Sara wrote on August 9th, 2007
  14. In my opinion (and a lot of others, backed by research)Splenda is a poison. After reading several of the reports, I’ll never touch the stuff again. Splenda had a very difficult time getting it’s approval, and for good reason. You can find better sweeteners. Use Stevia. It’s actually good for you!

    Dave wrote on March 11th, 2009
  15. RT Sonagi: Splenda is an organochloride, not an excitotoxin; you’re thinking of aspartame. Splenda is a different kind of bad. :-O

    jota wrote on April 24th, 2009
  16. Question: If you are going to cheat, which is better?

    A) one beer a day on Mon, Tues, Wed, and Thurs? Or…

    B) 4 beers on Fri night?

    My guess would be 4 beers on Fri night so as to not keep spiking your insulin level 4 days/week. I usually have one day a week where I do something unhealthy (usually beer, maybe a couple of chips, and well, since I’m gonna screw up anyways, maybe a slice of cake too!).

    Sofia wrote on July 22nd, 2009
  17. I am a total believer in having one day to screw off and inhale whatever I want. However since adapting a high fat, mod protein diet I don’t actually care for cookies, ice cream, candy, soda, etc.

    For me it’s a love of things like pizza, spaghetti with garlic bread, chili over rice, sub sandwiches, etc. that keep me sane. Every saturday I will pretty much inhale whatever I want…my favorite breakfast is waffles, bacon, little smokies, and scrambled eggs. MMMM…I’m getting hungry and it’s only Wednesday :(

    Xbox 3 Red Lights Fix wrote on July 22nd, 2009
  18. This is an old post… but if anybody happens to read it:
    Note that Saturated fat is not bad, Crabby may be mistaken, depending on weather or not you are a conventional wisdom fan (just say’n).
    Also note that the sun is not bad and tanning can be perfectly healthy and sunscreen can be used only for emergencies to prevent burns when there is no clothing around.
    There are alternatives to junk foods made of almond flour, coconut flour, stevia etc. at places like
    Also fatty, low sugar treats like pork rinds and cream cheese can help not derail a PB follower who gets sick from cheating with grain and sugar.

    Katie wrote on September 3rd, 2009
  19. Hey katie I replying to this old post too. I agree. I spend a lot of time cooking healthy, reading about health and working out. . .because I like it and it makes me happy. If I indulge I don’t sweat it but I am so satisfied with being primal, I do the DK. chocolate thing but it’s fun making delicious PB meals and treats. I haven’t got board yet. By the time I’m done experimenting I’m too full to consider a fast/junk food joint. LOL (that part I’m working on;)

    Allison wrote on April 2nd, 2010
  20. I’ve found I simply CANNOT endure grains anymore — even the occasional simple sandwich kicks up the weight and leaves me feeling not-great.

    However, I will never give up the romantic delights of sharing a bowl of ice cream with my wonderful husband (one bowl, one spoon, take turns) though even there the 80/20 rule applies: he eats 80% and I only want 20%…it’s the mush that counts.

    Joellyn wrote on May 12th, 2010
  21. You must be very young to think that you can continue using Splenda and not pay a horrible price for it. It’s LITERALY poison. Dump it on a few ants and see for yourself. Sucralose is not excreted but stored in your LIVER, and you know what happens when your liver starts not working right? You DIE.

    I used a lot of Splenda. I lost half my hair, was tired all the time, couldn’t stop having bladder infections, and no doctor could figure it out. Finally I read about Splenda and stopped taking it cold turkey. It’s been four months since that happened and much of my hair has grown back, I’m not tired anymore, and I’ve discovered that I can live without artificial sweeteners just find. In fact, IT MAKES YOU EAT MORE. Now that I’m not concocting clever desserts (I used to love plain yogurt with frozen raspberries and lots and lots of Splenda) I LOST WEIGHT because I stopped using Splenda.

    Don’t kid yourself. You are going to pay a hideous price for your ignorance. Now I use one envelope a day of Truvia in my coffee. You want to see studies? Google what Big Tobacco told us for at least fifty years while we smoked and died and so did our children. SPLENDA IS ABSOLUTELY POISON!


    Belle wrote on October 30th, 2010
    • Geez, Belle, why aren’t we all dead then or at least losing our hair?

      You may have had a terrible experience with Splenda. I trust that you know what you are talking about re your own experience, but I also remember how I thought that carbs were making me really sick because it stopped when I started Atkins. Hallelujah! But it turned out that it was tomato sauce that was the culprit (no pasta, no sauce; no pizza, no sauce, etc.) In any case, concluding that something is poison from one person’s experience is silly. There does appear to be some evidence that Splenda can accumulate in the liver, but there is also a huge amount of unbiased testing that fails to show negative effects.

      If a small amount of Splenda helps people avoid sugar and causes them no symptoms, it’s probably doing more good than bad in general, although not better than eliminating all sweetners. In any case, it’s not helpful to rational discourse to scream “POISON” when all you know is that it might have had a bad effect on you (but why not me?)

      As for tobacco studies …. how is that relevant? I get the part about big business pushing a poison, but the logic doesn’t work backwards — big business is pushing X, therefore X is a poison?

      The problem with nutrients is that it is very difficult to figure out what causes what…. and even when we do think we know something, it later turns out to be wrong (antioxidants, anyone?) This site has the best answer I’ve found — stick with nutrients that worked for eons when you can, and take advantage of modern science/research when it seems reasonable.

      I don’t know what the answer is on Splenda. I do know I use more of it than I probably should, and I have great energy, a thin liver, and all my hair. But I don’t presume to think that I’m the final word on Splenda safety.

      Ann Coleman wrote on November 3rd, 2010
      • I love this liberal dollop of reason; it’s just the right foil to my sweet, guilty pleasure – reading snarky comments.

        Natalie wrote on January 19th, 2012
  22. Belle, the POISON is determined by the DOSE.
    You may want to read up on a little thing called hormesis. Things that are poison at moderate to high levels are often beneficial at low doses. Too much water can make you sick or even kill you (even all-natural spring water, filtered water or whatever you consider to be the healthiest water). If you use Splenda for a sweet treat once in a while, you’re likely not going to see any negative health effects. I’ve used it in place of sugar and agave nectar in plenty of my almond flour based recipes to great success. I will admit, it’s a rare treat, but still much healthier to eat my Splenda sweetened, heavy (extra heavy- in a stainless steel cake pan you could use it as a weapon to deter an attacker), dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate frosting, than the conventional wheat flour and sugar loaded equivalent. I wouldn’t doubt that Truvia may pose health risks if consumed at the same level for the same amount of time.

    Trav wrote on December 17th, 2010
  23. Truvia is disgusting. No point to using something that tastes horrible. Trav has the right approach in that like everything, moderation is the key. The main thing I use Splenda for is my coffee…because I like it sweet, and if I use sugar it seems to take a million teaspoons before it tastes right to me. So I use two splenda a day, usually.

    As for the rest of the original post…I love it and whenever I am too hard on myself about eating dessert, I think about all the women who skipped dessert at dinner the night the Titanic sank.

    Mary wrote on January 4th, 2011
  24. Stevia has been thoroughly tested & has been in use in Japan for 30+ years.

    Claire wrote on July 8th, 2011
  25. A girl went on a diet. She needed something sweet in her tea. Her husband discovered Stevia. She thought she would sneak a packet or two. Husband went to work to make money to pay bills. She stayed behind to care for their young son. She sat down in a chair to enjoy her Stevia sweetened tea while her son played a game. Her darling son asked for her help to reach a new level. She placed her Stevia sweetened tea down and began to get up. She fainted. Ambulance came to get mother and son. SHe had an allergic reaction to Stevia. Simply… not everyone can do well with Stevia. There are reports that people with ragweed allergies should not consume Stevia.

    stevia_not_so_good wrote on August 18th, 2011
    • This comment about Stevia “packets” is misleading because we don’t know if it was Truvia or a better brand that is pure like Sweet Leaf or by Cid Botanicals. There is a difference. Mark wrote an article here about Truvia, which I believe could use updating. There were not good results in the lab with the use of “rebiana” from what I found, which is a part of the stevia plant. In nature/herbs those who have been trained know that with some, the leaf may be safe but the root or other part is not. Why don’t we get this? Oh that’s right…because we are not trained in this area of expertice.

      Splenda/sucralose I’ve read so many testimonies of adults and children who have experienced horrible effects. The studies on humans here in the US consisted of 36 people over 3 months, only 23 of them received the product and only 6 of them were men. The mice/rats tested had a wide range of effects such as male infertility, kidney issues, spontaneous abortions etc. Read up on Splenda chlorocarbens.

      I stick with stevia in liquid and have for years. Occasionally I use Agave or real Maple syrup. I don’t eat cakes etc unless it’s a special occasion…Tiramisu is a weakness :) All in moderation. If you have a compromised immune system, no artificial or natural sweetener should be used. Your body needs to heal, so fast from it and other bad foods and regain your health because it is priceless!

      Kate wrote on February 9th, 2012
  26. this is a great post, it makes me feel more human and less hard on myself. i wont consume stevia, but i am a big fan of treats and sweets and sometimes they just taste wonderful and are totally worth having no guilt required. i love reading about nutrition but when you read so much about it you feel pressured to be harder on yourself and sometimes you just need to take a breather and think OKAY….its not the end of the world if i enjoy some of my brothers DQ ice cream cake for his birthday…or nibble on a piece of almond chicken from the chinese food restaurant they ordered from…. lol my situation last night….

    caiti wrote on September 27th, 2012
  27. i wont consume SPLENDA** sorry error. i have a tiny bottle of liquid stevia but i hate it.

    caiti wrote on September 27th, 2012
  28. How about honey? Isn’t honey better than sugar and all the artificial sweeteners? I use one teaspoon of honey in my tea and if I feel like having dessert after dinner, I slowly savor a teaspoon of honey, instead of a piece of cake or pie…. It works for me. Honey should not be given to babies and humans should not eat more tan 10 tablespoons of honey per day.

    Nivia wrote on October 2nd, 2012
  29. (And back when cavemen got nasty infections? They got dead. We get a little vial of “artificial” pills and we go out the next day and hit the trail and go for a run.)

    this literally made me lol in my office. what a great post, and what a great relief to know i’m not crazy for still wanting the occasional jujyfruit!

    Dina M Huston wrote on May 7th, 2013
  30. Without going into details, Crabby, sorry, but you’re soooo wrong in your light and oversimplified assessments of what’s considered downright dangerous foods.
    Like many unsuspecting and uninformed common folks, you erroneously believe the “official” findings, theories and conclusions of some corrupt “official” governmental agencies on food testings.
    Find out for yourself what Splenda and Aspartaime is REALLY made of and how it was a step away from being banned, but at the very last moment, due to some very powerful lobbying… (You can finish the sentence). Also learn about the so-called “goodness” of soy product and their “frying” effect on your thyroid, and WHO is behind this interest and WHY?
    Learn about the terrible research on the leading GMO-developer and researcher — “THE pit of evil”, such as Monsanto corporation, (where even its own employees quit eating at their own cafeteria) and other such institutions.
    Learn what GMO-grown corn can do to you, if it already by definition contains built-in pesticides that kill rats that eat it.
    Perhaps, then you’ll be more enlightened and less misinformed, therefore, having a different angle on a well orchestrated and planned mass poisoning of the population into a real issue and, perhaps, you’ll also reevaluate your 90/10 ratio…

    But don’t take my word 4 it – do your own research… Good starting point would be to look-up Mike Adams – “the health ranger” and his site. (I’m in no way affiliated).

    And anticipating your ‘rolled eyes’ and exclamations akin to ‘oh no, not another conspiracy theory’, I have a reply for you:
    Conspiracy – yes!
    Theory – No!


    Aldente wrote on July 23rd, 2013
  31. So many “experts” forcing their square peg into a round hole. Do what works for you and only you know what that is… sorry for being several years late to the party.

    himthatknows wrote on September 5th, 2014
  32. Did the author of this article mention that saturated fat is bad for us?

    “Too much saturated fat and trans fat and sugar and refined grains will do all kinds of terrible things to our bodies over time.”

    Yep crabby did. Why Mark Sisson would allow an article to be written on this website knowing the author does not have a clue is beyond me. If this author does not know the basics of good nutrition then can we trust anything this author writes?

    Probably not

    Mark wrote on July 17th, 2016

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