Splenda, a sweetener found in many drinks, baked goods, canned fruits, desserts and condiments, allows new moms watching their weight to enjoy a sweet treat without the calories and carbohydrates found in traditional sweeteners, such as sugar or honey. Because sucralose, the sweetening ingredient in Splenda, is an artificial sweetener instead of a natural one, nursing moms might wonder if they should avoid it. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they don't need to worry. The FDA deems Splenda safe for all users, including nursing or pregnant women.
The Scoop on Splenda
Scientists create sucralose by modifying sucrose or normal table sugar. They replace three hydrogen-oxygen groups in the sugar molecule with three chlorine atoms, which results in a very sweet, no-calorie and no-carbohydrate sweetener. You might associate chlorine primarily with swimming pools, but it is also a common dietary staple found in foods such as salt, peanut butter, lettuce, mushrooms, lentils and tomatoes. Unlike sugar, your body does not break sucralose down into calories for energy. Most of the sucralose passes through your body without being absorbed.
Is it Safe?
Board-certified lactation consultant Kelly Bonyata contends that sucralose’s lack of absorption is a good indication that it does not enter breast milk at significant levels. After conducting a rigorous evaluation of sucralose, the FDA approved sucralose as a general purpose sweetener for use in all individuals in 1999. Discuss the use of artificial sweeteners in your diet with your care provider to ensure it is safe and appropriate in your situation.
Some individuals might experience laxative effects, including diarrhea, bloating and gas after consuming products containing Splenda. According to the Splenda manufacturer’s website, Splenda itself does not cause gastrointestinal problems. However, many low-calorie products with Splenda might also contain sugar alcohols, such as mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, and maltitol, which can lead to gastrointestinal upset.
Although Splenda itself doesn’t contain calories, you can still get plenty of calories and fat from other ingredients in products that contain Splenda. Eating too many processed snack foods, even artificially sweetened ones, can sabotage your weight loss efforts. The right diet can benefit breastfeeding moms and their babies by providing them both with optimal nutrition. Include foods and drinks with Splenda in your diet as an occasional treat, but be sure to drink plenty of water and eat primarily whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean proteins.