May 31, 2011

Fat Free Cream Cheese Creeps Me Out!

Just like every other female in America, I set out at the beginning of 2011 with the resolution to lose weight. Okay, so maybe not in that obsessive hydroxycut, Special K diet, join Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem sort of way. I think the conversation in my head went something like this. "Hey, it's a new year. Maybe my resolution should be to eat better, what if you gave up sugar, for a whole year! It can't be that hard. You could totally do it...ooh Yogurtland. Yah I'm gunna need some of that. Screw no sugar, that's just evil, I do what I want!"

When it comes to diets I am almost whole-heartedly opposed. Of course I believe in eating well, eating fresh fruits and veggies, keeping fried foods to a minimum, blah blah blah. I just don't believe eating cereal two times a day for two weeks will give me lasting results in the waistline category. I was making toast today *gasp* "aren't carbs supposed to be off limits when trying to lose weight??" when I decided to put a small amount of butter and jam on my toast. Probably no more than one teaspoon of each, and I got to thinking. I recently watched the movie Food Inc which has inspired me to be more conscious of where the food I buy is coming from but also to be aware of what my food is made of.

In this diet-crazed world it seems that every product at the grocery store has a "light" version. Fat-Free cream cheese, Sugar-Free fruit juice, butter substitutes, and Non-Fat chocolate pudding. Although I am all for watching our weight and keeping an overall low fat and sugar diet, when does consuming all the chemicals to make such products as sugar-free Hershey bars become more of a hindrance to our bodies than if we just ate the full fat alternative made of ingredients we can actually pronounce? Not to mention who wants to eat sugar free Hersheys? It tastes like cardboard! I am guilty of using non-calorie sweeteners such as Splenda or Equal in my coffee. But that's mostly because I like LOTS of sugar in my coffee and if I used the real stuff it would probably be enough to bake a small cookie or keep a toddler bouncing off the walls for a minimum of 2 hours.

I digress. The question I guess I am posing is this; if used in moderation, is putting one teaspoon of real, organic butter on my toast really worse for me than the "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" Spray that boasts only 20 calories per 25 sprays, made of who knows what? I am in no way advocating always using butter, or whole milk (ew!) but rather asking where is the right place to draw the line with all these chemicals. At least with real fats, like the ones found in that damn almond butter I love so much, my body can recognize what it is digesting. The fats from nuts are found naturally in the environment unlike ingredients such as Carrageenan, Potassium Sorbate, and Calcium Propionate all found in Fat Free cream cheese. I recently bought "light" cranberry juice thinking I was being smart in avoiding some of the sugar and calories but I almost immediately regretted the decision. First of all, it tasted like hyper-sweet cough syrup, and secondly because every time I drank it I got a stomach ache. Something in this hybrid juice really didn't get along with my tummy.

So which is the lesser of the two evils? Does having a diet reliant on diet-versions of my favorite foods really help me lose weight? Or can we learn to moderate ourselves. Let's be honest, if I am going to eat a cookie I'd rather it be made from scratch and just deal with the fact that I am choosing to consume some extra calories. Not to mention baked goods made with things like Splenda and margarine really freak me out. Am I right? Am I right?

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