Truvia Sells Sweet Self-Hatred

Truvia is a sugar substitute made from Stevia. Apparently they’ve decided that instead of convincing people to like their product, it’s easier to convince women to hate ourselves and eat their product to assuage our guilt at being bad, bad girls who eat all of our boyfriend’s cake.

Here’s the video, I’ve just copied the lyrics below in case you’d prefer to skip this exercise and not have to apply brain bleach later  (the dislikes and negative comments on YouTube make me happy)

(this is a complication of all the songs, the one I’m talking about starts at 1:30)
Here are the lyrics:

I loved you sweetness
But you’re not sweet you made my butt fat
you drove me insane
self control down the drain
we’re over I’m so done with that
I found a new love
A natural true l0ve
that comes from a little green leaf
zero calorie guilt free no artificiality
my skinny jeans zipped in relief
It’s name is Truvia
I had no idea
No more sprinkling my coffee with grief

First, I do not understand the point of being guilty about eating.  How does that help?  Does guilt burn a bunch of calories? I’m thinking either eat the thing and enjoy it and move on with your life, or don’t eat eat the thing and move on with your life, but I cannot for the life of me think of what would be accomplished by my choosing to eat something and then choosing to feel guilty about that.

Next, I’m concerned that the lyricists on this gem of a jingle might want to examine their relationship with food.  In 30 seconds they’ve used the words insane, grief, guilt, relief, and love three times discussing an artificial sweetener.  Whoa.  Imagine how many emotions they must go through when they see some seven layer dip.  I work with people who are dealing with eating disorders and I’m not intending to make light of that, but I do want to point out how they are using disordered eating behavior to sell us food that is not exactly as advertised as “no artificiality.”

99.1% of Truvia is Erythritol.  This is a corn-based sweetener manufactured by Cargill. (30% of whose corn is, by their own information, genetically modified in case that matters to you). Sugars from the corn are extracted, mixed with water and fermented, filtered, crystallized and dried.  Side effects if you consume too much include digestive upset, diarrhea, and bloating. I’m betting that the bloating is going to end her skinny jean relief and in lieu of being driven to insanity, our songstress can instead be driven into the bathroom.  At least the acoustics are good in there.

The other .9% of Truvia is Rebiana.  This is a sweetener that is derived from the stevia leaf through a refining process. So just to go back to the song, only a fraction of a percent of the sweetener is derived from a little green leaf.  I guess it’s just really difficult to rhyme Erythritol?

Oddly, another way to sweeten with stevia is to eat the damn leaf.  That sounds less artificial than putting .9% of stevia extract with 99.1% of corn extract, but I’m not an expert at this.

I’m not here to tell anyone what to eat and what not to eat.  I am here to say that selling artificial sweetener (or anything for that matter) by trying to make people feel guilty and hate themselves is bullshit and I hope that I’m not the only one who thinks so.

To end on a much more positive note, the Truvia commercial that I saw was during the Final Episode of “The Voice”.  The following video is from that episode.  It’s a bald, butch, tatted out lesbian singing a duet with Christina Aguilera and I thought that it was “Beautiful” (see what I did there…)  I think that the Truvia songwriters could take a cue from this:

Published in: on June 29, 2011 at 11:59 pm  Comments (41)  

41 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You are so cool. I love reading you <3

    • Thank you! Also, maybe the first time I’ve ever been called cool.

      ~Ragen

  2. Holy crap. I totally use Truvia. Did not realize what it was made of. *epic facepalm* That’s what I get for not researching before I picked it up at the grocery store.

    • You are not alone, pange! I’ve only used a few packets out of the box I bought. Throwing the rest away! I was trying to find a way to sweeten my (giant) iced tea without a lot of sugar and without Spenda/Sweet n Low/etc. Now I’m just going to stick with a lemon!

      • Meaghan, I tend to water down the tea a little bit to cut the bitterness and then cut up a big juicy navel orange and put slices of it in the tea. It’s super yummy and if you buy organic oranges, fairly natural. I also tend to snip some mint some times and put it in my iced tea. It also makes a big difference if you buy high quality tea in the first place (I like Republic of Tea) as it is less bitter to begin with. Happy sipping!

    • Sugar in the Raw Also Makes Stevia in the Raw. I have never liked or trusted Truvia. While we are not fans of Whole Foods around here, they do carry liquid and pure stevia as well.

      • I was just on the site for Stevia in the Raw, figuring that if anything would, then something called “in the raw” would be just the stevia leaf. Um, it is that same Rebiana, so something refined and not “raw.” It says that “Stevia Extract In The Raw is made from Reb–A (Rebiana) Stevia Leaf extract that is 97% to 99% pure.” Whatever pure is. To dilute the potency, they use the fillers maltodextrin and dextrose, both from corn.
        They do boast that it doesn’t have the erythritol, and isomaltulose and erythritol that their competitors contain. So, there’s that.
        I’ll still take sugar. And honey.

  3. i come for the graphics.

    • Thanks, Virginia! I created this one in the robust design environment of Microsoft Paint.

      ~Ragen

  4. Just posted a link to this post from my Facebook page. Hope that’s cool. You tell it like it is and like it should be! We women have swallowed (literally) so much crap in the name of ‘this will make us thinner, prettier, better, more desirable, etc.’ You rock!

  5. “First, I do not understand the point of being guilty about eating. How does that help?” That mentality drives me berserk too! So many women seem to think they are not allowed to eat anything without adding the “I feel so guilty” disclaimer first, and it’s so pointless and self-defeating. Ladies: YOU NEED TO EAT! YOUR BODY CAN’T FUNCTION PROPERLY WITHOUT FOOD! THAT IS NOT SOMETHING TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT!! Putting a spoonful of sugar in your coffee should not be causing you grief.

    • Putting a spoonful of sugar in my coffee every morning causes me joy, not grief. So does adding half and half. It makes me feel subversive AND alert at the same time.

    • Right! I used to use Sweet N Low (blech!) until my then eight year old son (now 21 and aiming to become a pharmacist!) told me that he had found out that Sweet N Low is basically a petroleum product and I was better off using real sugar. Out of the mouths of babes…

  6. Wow. Besides profiting by making people feel bad about themselves, wow on the false advertisements. There’s so much of a holier than thou attitude around stevia,in my opinion, and now to see that Truvia is mostly just CORN? Come on!

    Do you know anything about NuStevia? It was recommended in one of my mom’s weight watchers group. Part of the recommendation had to do with it tasting better than Stevia, which many ppl find to have a bitter after taste.

    Now I’ll go back and watch Christiana while I eat a fancy cupcake. I’ll probably blog about that cupcake later. Thank you.

  7. I wonder if it will face similar backlash to what the Yoplait commercial faced because of the whole potential eating disorder thing. That commercial still wants to make me do a whole face palm thing because one of the channels I’ve seen it a lot is Teen Nick. Uh…oh right, yeah, let’s start girls on the path to freaking out if they decide they want to eat a piece of freaking cheese cake!

    I wish people would make the connection that guilt, when it comes to food, is not a good thing and can lead to some major issues. And I hate the whole sweetener thing. As bad as sugar supposedly is, it doesn’t seem to cause quite the same issues as some of these artificial sweeteners can cause. I mean some of them are neurotoxins! So, if I’m going to sweeten something, I will use sugar or an actually natural sweetener like honey/molasses/REAL maple syrup.

  8. I recently started watching tv again and it reminded me why I stopped in the first place. A commercial for chocolate comes on that teases and taunts dieters, telling them that it’s “okay to bad.”

    And the next commercial? A Jenny Craig ad.

    Disgusting.

    • “I recently started watching tv again and it reminded me why I stopped in the first place.”

      I frequently have that reaction as well.

  9. The idea of a cute little ‘songstress’ creating this makes me slightly less furious than the image of a room full of ad execs in suits deliberating over just which words to put in their stupid song to guilt us into buying their stupid product. That’s just sinister.

  10. Packing lunches has always been a major problem for me (it may have something to do with the fact that I wake up 15 minutes before I have to leave and don’t prepare anything the night before), so I’ve been getting Trader Joes frozen pizza thingys. They’re $2 and very tasty, and I love having hot food in the middle of the day. Then I realized they’re called “Reduced Guilt” frozen meals. It’s obviously a play on “reduced fat” “reduced calories” etc, but it makes me so mad. Not only should you feel guilty for eating food, the guilt that you should obviously feel for having eaten food is only “reduced”, it doesn’t go away completely. Are we not allowed to eat lunch anymore? Don’t these marketing people understand that in order to survive you do have to eat, even if you’re a woman?

    • “Don’t these marketing people understand that in order to survive you do have to eat, even if you’re a woman?”

      We’re supposed to live on pink ribbons and air.

      That one has always bothered me. The amount of people that believe that — like, if you’re female and you finish a plate of food, there are people that just gawk at you outright — *really* bothers me.

  11. Wow, what a great post!

    I (unfortunately) still tend to fall for that crappy disordered eating advertising, and never really think that there’s anything unusual about it… however, that could be because I have a personal history of eating disorders!!!

    So thanks for pointing out that this sort of advertising is in fact not normal. :-)

  12. This commercial is the same negative self talk in the pulled Yoplait ad. Women’s internal dialogue of self hate isn’t necessary to sell products. I just wrote a post about Carl Jr.’s sexist advertising and it’s sick that things like this are company’s first gut reaction to anything having to do with women. They would never have a Truvia commercial like this with a man.

  13. This manic commercial is obviously going on the assumption that everyone already feels guilt when they eat something. Shame on them for promoting this idea.

    I was also going to say, I have never heard of Truvia and on ocassion I use pure stevia extract as a replacement sweetener. Never seen Truvia in the health food store…I guess this is why!

  14. “Truvia: Honestly Sweet” What a loaded sentence that is. What it says about a girl who eats real sugar (and all the cheesecake) is really nasty when you think about it. She’s dishonest and not a sweet girl at all. She deserves for her skinny jeans not to zip. A masterpiece of subtextual (is that a word?) doublespeak.

  15. I don’t watch TV, so I’ve never seen that commercial. I honestly thought it was a joke at first. “You’re not sweet, you made my butt fat?” That makes me want to go into the kitchen and snort powdered sugar in the hopes that it will somehow telepathically piss the jingle writer off. Also, if you’re going to look that irritated about eating cheesecake, why bother?

  16. Thanks for pointing this out, Ragen.

    My first reaction was to rant about “food” companies that completely fuck with healthy, natural, good stuff and turn it into chemical-laden, nutrient-free, potentially dangerous crap in return for miniscule cost-savings per unit, extended shelf life, and catering to the idea that Amerkins won’t tolerate anything that isn’t “Better, Faster, Sweeter” to the point of overwhelming our taste buds. I HATE this kind of deceptive advertising. It erodes the public trust.

    And that doesn’t even touch on the self-hate messages. The people who wrote this crap are being, as Corky St. Clair would say, bastard people. They are ass faces.

    However, when my brain simmered down, I recalled the deep satisfaction I had a couple of months ago when doing a focus-group-of-one session with some people who were working on designing a new commercial beverage. It was a great opportunity to talk about how much I wanted commercial products to be actually healthy instead of fake healthy, to be sustainable, and to be made out of a few recognizable, minimally processed ingredients that were the same as what was advertised on the box, and to promote healthy thinking as well as consuming. And I recalled that my ranting really isn’t enough for me. Telling people that they’re doing something I find wrong seems much more effective, to me. So I contacted the company and told them what I thought and felt about their campaign.

    Y’all can do the same thing here, if you like: http://www.truvia.com/contact/

  17. My mother uses Truvia. I’ll have to tell her the truth about it. At 73, she’s still obsessed with being “fat.” She weighs 160 pounds and looks just fine but she thinks she needs to “lose at least 30 pounds.” My son has expressed concern that if she lose weight she puts herself at greater danger for developing osteoporosis. She’s been, naturally, depressed since my father’s death last year, so her appetite’s been greatly reduced anyway. It’s disgusting how these messages affect our seniors too. From the cradle to the grave these days.

    • You’re so right about this. It’s scheisse enough that people get these hateful messages, but it’s vile that they can have the worst effect on the most vulnerable people–our elders, children, and people already struggling with self-worth, eating issues, etc.. Grrr.

    • It’s awful how pervasive these anti-fat messages are. And it’s so needless. Fat has actually been shown to have a protective effect in elderly people. Your mom should be hanging on to every ounce. :) If she gets cancer, she’ll need those reserves to get through the treatment. Check out this link for the scientific info on this, she should read it. junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2007/04/news-women-can-use.html

  18. http://adayinthefatlife.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/maybe-its-not-so-cut-and-dried-after-all/

    The above link is to a blog post discussing a scientific study showing that artificial sweeteners increased diabetes risk and people who drank more diet soda had a larger increase in waist circumference. I also recall reading about a study once that showed that people ate larger amounts of food labelled as low-fat or low-calorie than unlabelled versions (I can’t remember if the food in question was low fat/low calorie or just labelled as such)

    I like my coffee black with three teaspoons of Demerera sugar. Oddly, drinking coffee black is the only remnant of my vegan days, coffee with milk in tastes odd to me now.

  19. It would seem to me that if one is going to sit and eat a slice of cake that was meant to be shared with someone, calories and weight gain are the least of your problems.

    • Nice comment, Katie M. For me, this sums it up: Life is to be enjoyed. Food is to be enjoyed. The people who we love and who love us are the center of life, period.

  20. So I had to come back here again and find this post to tell someone how often I am seeing this commercial. It plays on hulu every time I walk away from the computer. It gets stuck in my head and I feel like I know it like a normal song. I HATE IT.

  21. Sometimes I’ll buy the True Lemon and True Orange packets to put in my water because I can’t drink it plain. But I still need a little sweetness. Lo and behold I saw in the grocery store, True Lemon with Truvia! So I bought it thinking, hey, now it can be sweet. It was the some of the most awful tasting stuff I’ve ever had and I ended up giving the box to my mother, who didn’t use it either.

    Now, I do use Splenda because I like it and it doesn’t give me a nasty aftertaste. But real sugar is best when it comes down to it, and a spoonful in your coffee or tea isn’t going to kill you or make you gain 650 lbs in a week.

  22. Ragen did you mean “The other .9% of *Truvia* is Rebiana” not “The other .9% of stevia is Rebiana”?

    I love how twisted our use of “natural” has become….

  23. I just came across your blog today- wonderful stuff, really! It’s amazing that ads such as this one have become so pervasive that I never batted an eye at the lyrics or intended message during the many times I’ve seen this gem. I have Truvia in my kitchen cabinet at the moment and am prepared to throw it in the circular file when I get home! As a young woman recovering from disordered eating, your posts are infinitely helpful, and inspiring. Thanks, Ragen!

    • Kristi,

      Thank you so much for your kind words, and congratulations on your recovery journey!

      ~Ragen

  24. Everyone else pretty much covered all my thoughts and feelings about the issue except I was wondering what the hell stevia is? Am I to understand it’s just sugar made from a leaf instead of sugar cane??? Because it sounds like the problem with Truvia as Ragen described it (the chemical make up not all the marketing crap) is it had too much other crap in it and not enough stevia like they said it did?
    Time to wiki I guess… ;-P

  25. makes your blood sugar go up too if you’re diabetic…which is stupid because so many people equate [no sugar] with [no BG rise]. Very frustrating trying to explain this to my diabetic mother.

  26. The really sad part is that manufacturers are now putting stevia and/or sucralose in everything. For example, Tru Lemon makes one of those powdered drinks that you put in your water bottle. It’s sweetened with sucralose and stevia and the company does not make a version with real sugar. Neither do they intend to in the future. Jello makes those “decadent” desserts, sweetened with sucralose or stevia.

    Both those sweeteners taste like aspirin. They are absolutely disgusting but idiots eat it up. And I don’t think it’s just the fear of getting fat from eating a teaspoon of sugar. I think it’s akin to the self abuse the Opus Dei people do. Except, instead of beating themselves with chains or wearing spiked cuffs, they eat nasty food to show their devotion and self sacrifice.

  27. I know these are waiting moderation so I don’t feel so weird posting again. If I could edit my original post, i would. Anyway, Both those Jill Jacksons above are me. I’m not sure why the picture changed. But it looks like FB is cycling through every last profile picture I have ever used. Go fig.


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