When was diagnosed with diabetes, luckily (or unluckily) for me, aspartame had just arrived as a sweetener, so I could drink diet coke until the cows came home (which didn't happen all that often, as there aren't many cows here in the city -- and because I discovered that too much NutraSweet gave me headaches). I got diabetes just as the diet food industry was ramping up its activity, and soon you could buy "diet" or "lo-fat" or "calorie-wise" versions of almost everything (these days, even for pets!) After listening to a friend who was diagnosed with diabetes when diet foods didn't exist, I was ecstatic that I could eat more snacks than just a cinnamon stick now and then, so you could say I bought into low-cal foods big time... and gained a lot of weight. What the???
Fortunately, my crazy Jewish lady dietitian, Nina, whom I absolutely loved (more when she wasn't cranking at me for being overweight and under-active), got a hold of me and informed me of a few details that a lot of people don't consider when it comes to so-called diet foods: namely, that lo-fat usually means a lot more sugar and chemicals to smooth over the flavour of whatever has been removed from a product. And low sugar? Right, more fat. And when it comes to eating the ordinary amount of any given food, said food is much less satisfying if the fat or sugar is removed and replaced with other stuff (which usually builds sugar swings that scream to be satisfied with more food than you would normally eat if you had the nice ordinary food you made yourself instead of the calorie-wise stuff that comes ready-made on the grocery store shelf).
In other words, according to Nina, a lot of the diet-food industry replaces real food value with empty calories that just make dieters want to eat more. Diet foods are a myth, more or less. Pretty slimy if you ask me!
So since that chat with Nina all those years ago, I've pretty much avoided diet foods. If I'm buying sour cream, it's real sour cream with no apologies. Unfortunately, I haven't been doing our shopping much since this dizziness hit in October, and recently my hubby didn't notice that he'd accidentally picked up some calorie-wise peppercorn ranch dressing. And guess what? No one wants to eat it! Too bloomin' sweet!
So when it comes to this Simple Suggestion, the bottom line is that everything tastes better made from scratch, with real ingredients instead of sugar or chemicals to cover what's missing. Real food will always be more satisfying than any highly processed dietetic replica (read: food-like substance, in Michael Pollan's wise words), which means I'll probably eat less of it, and that's just smarter all around. Voluntary Simplicity is about moderation in all things, including the simple, real, non-messed-with-foods that make for satisfaction, happier bodies and healthier human beings.
So go ahead. Enjoy your unadulterated calories -- in moderation, of course.
P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.