We've all heard that most artificial sweeteners are bad for us. And then they came up with Splenda. And now they sell it in the baking aisle. So why not? Well, for one thing it isn't natural. It is made using chlorine. Last time I checked, that's not something you want to ingest. Whole Foods won't even sell it, or anything that contains it (there are 3,500 products on the market with it as an ingredient) because it isn't natural and there have been no long-term studies done to see its effects.
Secondly, studies are now showing that artificial sweeteners do not yield the same response that natural sugars do. So when we're craving something sweet and we eat something sugar free, we aren't going to experience a satisfaction for that desire. In other words, we're still gonna want the chocolate. Plus, there have been no connections between eating and drinking sugar free products and weight loss.
In short, I won't use it when I bake. And I am trying not to use it in my drinks. And I definitely definitely will not let me child eat anything made with it. And if I don't let him eat it, I probably shouldn't either.
So, what can we use instead? I am all about the real deal. I like to keep things wholesome, even if that means a little sugar. I try to use evaporated cane juice (organic sugar), but I'm not above a little C&H. I also use honey, blue agave nectar (it has a lower glycemic index so it prevents a crash), unsweetened applesauce, or mashed banana to make things a bit more nutritious. Don't be afraid of the real stuff! Remember, "you can't get somethin' for nothin'" has been quoted by parents the world over for a reason - it's true.