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Is low-calorie food healthy food?

Yesterday’s review of the Hungry Girl book sparked an interesting discussion question – does low-calorie food equal healthy food? The answer seems to be sometimes yes and sometimes no. It reminds me of the logic class I had to take in college where we’d have to decipher statements like:

All sparrows are birds

Not all birds are sparrows.

Some sparrows are black.

If Lulu is a black bird, is she a sparrow?

Except this is a more complicated since not all low-calorie foods are healthy and not all healthy foods are low-calorie. How do I write an “if, then” statement for that?

One of the reasons it took me so long to start eating healthy is because I couldn’t figure out what “healthy” meant. What do you eat when you eat healthy? Rice cakes? Tofu? It’s even more confusing because you have to look at a person’s overall diet and not just a single choice they make for one meal. They might eat oatmeal for breakfast, but then chomp on fried onion rings laden in trans-fat for dinner. Or they might be making a lot of low-calorie choices, but are eating so much packaged food that their sodium levels are higher than Lot’s wife. There are so many components that qualify a healthy eating style that you might be doing well in some areas and failing in others.

As many people pointed out, the Hungry Girl recipes use a lot of sugar substitutes and sugar-free ingredients that use – dun,dun,dun – chemicals! There seem to be two camps on the use of chemicals in foods, people who don’t want to touch anything that is not natural because they believe it’s bad for their bodies and people who don’t care as long as they can have something sweet with no calories. I admit, I’m one of the latter people who doesn’t care how much Splenda and Aspartame they pump into me as long as I can have something sweet to drink that is low-cal. However, I also understand why people are cautious about artificial ingredients. Your body is your most valuable possession and you get to decide what you put in it. I always wait until a software release has been out for a couple months before upgrading so the developers can work out all the bugs. I figure the people who are cautious about artificial ingredients are just waiting it out to see if we all develop an extra arm a decade from now. And, boy, are they going to be jealous when we do! Who wouldn’t like to have third arm? I would be an awesome drum player!

I also don’t believe that just because something is artificial it is bad or if it’s natural it’s good. Arsenic is all natural and it will kill you. Thousands of the medications we use today are artificial and save lives every day. All I would say is that the artificial products are newer and we might not know their full effect on our bodies yet. I’m willing to take the risk, but I understand why others don’t want to and fully support their decision. I’m lucky that I’m still rather young and I can chew on Tupperware and still feel okay. I’m sure as I get older that will not be the case and I’ll have to start watching things like my cholesterol or my sodium levels. But for now, I’m not too concerned about that stuff.

I know some people just don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners. And other people are actually capable of putting one teaspoon of honey in their yogurt and stopping right there. I have never been able to do that. Instead, I find myself sucking honey out of a plastic bear’s head in the middle of the evening like a zombie eating Winnie the Pooh’s brains. So, in comparison to gorging myself on real sugar, eating a lot of fake sugar seems better by comparison.

There is also a theory that artificial sweeteners make you hungrier than eating natural sweeteners because your body is expecting to get calories when it tastes something sweet. When it doesn’t get those calories, supposedly this makes you want to eat even more than if you hadn’t had the fake sugar. I have no idea if this is true or not. There is the odd fact that people who drink diet sodas evidently tend to gain more weight than people who don’t. I will say, I lost almost 200 pounds drinking diet sodas all the way. It sure was a lot better than drinking normal sodas with hundreds of calories every day.

Perhaps that’s what it’s about, not necessarily having the best diet on the planet, just a better one. Maybe we shouldn’t aim for the impossible task of eating a completely healthy diet, just a healthier diet. You don’t have to be the healthiest eater on the planet. No one is going to give you a prize. But you can almost always make improvements to your lifestyle, so perhaps it’s better to focus on that.

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60 Comments

Christine • April 30, 2008 at 8:22 am

Just wanted to say…

I’ve been there with the sucking the honey out of the bear’s head. Which is why I looooove Splenda.

On the other hand, I don’t drink diet soda anymore because the carbonation was eating my teeth.

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Loey • April 30, 2008 at 8:41 am

Well put, PQ. I’ve always raised an eyebrow at people regarding the issue of artificial sweetners. The reality is that “natural ingredients” aren’t really all that natural to start with, they’re highly refined, so unless your munching on a stalk of sugar cane or some wheat berries you’re not eating fully natural ingredients. And if you’re jonesin’ for some chocolate cake, it’s never going to be a “healthy food” for you, whether it’s made with sugar or Splenda.

I do agree, though, about your point that we’ve only had about 20 years or so of testing in artificial sweeteners, so the long term effects are still unknown.

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Jen • April 30, 2008 at 8:42 am

I agree I don’t know what I would do with out diet soda. I think one of the real problems is with all the new 100 calorie pack snacks that have no nutritional value. Most people already know that the are not getting vitamins and minerals from soda, but not from their snacks.

On a complete aside, I was bored at work the other day and I spend about 2 hours reading your older entries. There was one about buying new sneakers and lacing them up all the way for the first time. I tried that and now I don’t have blisters on the side of my foot. Who knew that last hole on the sneakers was so important.

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MamaMaven • April 30, 2008 at 9:05 am

Very well said. I have one friend who says Equal is bad, another Splenda so I split the difference and use one packet of each in my tea, probably assuring I will grow a third arm from the mixture of the chemicals. I am so happy summer is coming with all the local fresh fruits and vegetables, I find it much harder to make low calorie, nutritious choices during the winter and early spring and end up with a steady diet of Lean Cuisine and 100 calorie packs.

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Adrienne • April 30, 2008 at 9:14 am

Great post. I agree with your philosophy of not trying to have the perfect diet but instead making improvements. I also appreciate your point about medications, and that not everything that is artificial is necessarily harmful. Personally I try for diet soda in moderation, usually about 1 can a day. I do use splenda in my coffee, though I have been trying to cut back. I’m also trying to rely less on pre-packaged snacks and opt for fruits or veggies and hummus instead. But those 100 calorie packs are pretty tasty… I guess the thing is there is always room for improvement and experimenting with different mixes of foods. Which is a good thing, otherwise the quest for healthier eating would get boring.

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galnoir • April 30, 2008 at 9:15 am

Totally anecdotal, but my sweets cravings have gone way down since I drop-kicked diet soda to the curb earlier this year. For me, the decision was not based on some holier-than-thou desire not to pollute my body with “chemicals,” but the news stories earlier this year on the link between diet soda consumption and obesity scared me. That, and I’m planning on becoming pregnant this year, and I’m not convinced that artificial sweeteners are a good idea for the hatchling-to-be.

So, I guess I’ve become one of those people who can be satisfied with a teaspoon of honey in my yogurt (or, in my case, of brown sugar in my oatmeal). Fruit tastes really sweet to me now, and I’m more acutely aware of a sour aftertaste if I eat too much sugar.

I’m also trying to ditch the HFCS as much as possible, for political reasons as well as dietary ones. We’ve just bought a bread machine so we can make our own bread without added gunk (even Healthy Choice bread has HFCS, for crying out loud!). I’ve found that with other prepared products, the only work-around is buying organic. Organic ketchup, anyone?

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PastaQueen • April 30, 2008 at 9:15 am

Oh, that’s another good point I should have mentioned. The soda definitely hasn’t been kind to my teeth. It’s better now that I chew gum with xylitol after meals, but yeah, I can’t really defend the bad teeth effects of soda no matter how much I love fake sugar.

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PastaQueen • April 30, 2008 at 9:17 am

Thanks. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who had this problem :)

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Rah • April 30, 2008 at 9:21 am

Wonderful imagery, sucking the brains out of a honey bear bottle!

Recently, eating as “close to the ground” (unprocessed) as possible has developed a lot of appeal. However, with regard to artificial sweeteners? I’m a little older than you, but I’ve been consuming them for a long, long time, and frankly I find the extra arm quite useful. At a movie, you can drink your (diet) soda AND eat popcorn at the same time, what with the mutant arm holding the beverage.

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Comrade GoGo • April 30, 2008 at 9:27 am

“I couldn’t figure out what ‘healthy’ meant.”

Sigh. I know what you mean. I’ve studied this nutrition stuff informally since I was 14 (and I’m 30 now), and I still don’t know what to make of all the conflicting advice and evidence.

There’s something to be said for picking the lesser of the evils, so to speak—and it’s a personal decision, not a global one. For instance, I’m not overjoyed about the fact that keeping myself alive and functioning to some extent depends on anti-depressants. The artificial chemicals I take don’t have what I would consider truly long-term usage findings, and I know they aren’t natural. But being alive and able to appreciate being alive is more important to me, because I might not make it another 20 years or so without these unnatural substances.

This is all a bit of a tangent, but I guess what I’m thinking is that maybe the healthiest thing is what keeps a person—individually—feeling good and productive and well. . . . It’s a tough call, one that requires a sense of balance.

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BrightAngel • April 30, 2008 at 9:39 am

“I admit, I’m one of the latter people who doesn’t care how much Splenda and Aspartame they pump into me as long as I can have something sweet to drink that is low-cal.”

“I also don’t believe that just because something is artificial it is bad or if it’s natural it’s good. All I would say is that the artificial products are newer and we might not know their full effect on our bodies yet. I’m willing to take the risk.”

“I know some people just don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners…in comparison to gorging myself on real sugar, eating a lot of fake sugar seems better by comparison.”

“There is also a theory that artificial sweeteners make you hungrier than eating natural sweeteners because your body is expecting to get calories when it tastes something sweet. When it doesn’t get those calories, supposedly this makes you want to eat even more than if you hadn’t had the fake sugar. I have no idea if this is true or not. There is the odd fact that people who drink diet sodas evidently tend to gain more weight than people who don’t.

I will say, I lost almost 200 pounds drinking diet sodas all the way. It sure was a lot better than drinking normal sodas with hundreds of calories every day.” …(and for me 160 lbs lost)…

“Perhaps that’s what it’s about, not necessarily having the best diet on the planet, just a better one.”

THANK YOU FOR THE ABOVE QUOTATIONS.

Those statements state my position precisely.

Also, if you didn’t catch my previous comment,

Yesterday I read your book and loved it.

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PastaQueen • April 30, 2008 at 9:51 am

I’m glad to hear you loved the book! Thanks!

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Jojo • April 30, 2008 at 10:20 am

I think there is just absolutely no way to escape from chemicals, whether it be from food or our environment. Organic food is expensive and going “all natural”, all green or whatever with your housing, and driving around with your hybrid is an expensive lifestyle, one that job scarcity and slow economy doesn’t make easy to support. Geez, I’m just trying to survive, you know? I always put one splenda into my coffee or tea, and I find that I have to put SO much sugar just to get the same amount of sweetness. I probably won’t live long enough to see my third arm grow and I don’t want to live so long that I’m senile enough not to recognize myself and become a burden to society anyway. Bring on my Splenda, baby!

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radiosilents • April 30, 2008 at 10:21 am

Perhaps that’s what it’s about, not necessarily having the best diet on the planet, just a better one. Maybe we shouldn’t aim for the impossible task of eating a completely healthy diet, just a healthier diet. You don’t have to be the healthiest eater on the planet. No one is going to give you a prize. But you can almost always make improvements to your lifestyle, so perhaps it’s better to focus on that.

I totally agree with this, and it’s what I keep first and foremost in my mind as I continue to lose weight. It’s become so much more than wanting to see the numbers decrease on the scale — it’s about treating my body with reverence instead deluging it with junk all the time, and it’s about becoming more fit and feeling good. Of course, to me that does not mean completely eliminating junk from my life; I will also be a pizza addict. But, I am really focusing on feeding my body what makes it function the best, and I’ve been finding that eating pizza and ice cream every day didn’t do that (big surprise!).

As for artificial sweeteners and diet sodas, well, I love me some Diet Pepsi and other artificially sweetened soft drinks, but I have really cut down on my consumption of them just because I feel like it’s got to be better for me to drink more water, so that’s what I do. I drink water all through the day, and then at dinner, I have a diet soda, as opposed to drinking a 2 liter of diet soda a day. Generally, I don’t care for the taste of artificial sweeteners, and I am slightly suspicious of them, so I try to stick to figuring in the real stuff into my day, or getting used to the taste of unsweetened things (like tea, for example).

I’m still loving your blog and can’t wait to read your book! :)

Amy

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TR • April 30, 2008 at 10:23 am

Amen sister! Great post!! You have a very nice way of putting things in perspective.

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erica • April 30, 2008 at 10:52 am

I also used to drink a ton of diet soda because I thought I was one of those people who couldn’t deal without sweets. I quit (for financial reasons at the time) and noticed that after about a week of gnawing at the walls in hopes of finding a sugar deposit, my cravings were drastically reduced.

Now I’ve gradually reached a point where I don’t eat many processed foods or any HFCS, and my sugar cravings really are satisfied by a spoon of honey most days. Although I still go for a big ol slice of cake or whatever pretty regularly, I don’t find myself feeling deprived when I don’t get sweet things every three hours, the way I used to with sodas.

Anyways, not at all trying to suggest you change your stance, just more anecdotal evidence for the theory that the body acclimates to a certain level of sugar consumption, whether it is artificial or real, and that can cause cravings. I think salt is the same way – I eat a ton of it, can’t live without it, know I could probably wean myself off it, but don’t care to!

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nolafwug • April 30, 2008 at 11:04 am

I think I fall in the middle with regards to artificial sweeteners. I’m leery of them and I think I’d be better off without them but there are times when I really want a sweet drink and I don’t want to spend the calories even on Vitamin Water or something similar so I reach for the Crystal Light with a vague sense of doing something “bad.” I limit myself to 1-2 per day and that’s the best I can do.

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Megan • April 30, 2008 at 11:13 am

I lost 60 pounds by making small food swaps, including Coke for Fresca. I definitely think diet sodas can help with weight loss, but only if you don’t overeat in other areas.

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VegChb • April 30, 2008 at 11:42 am

I don’t think a green lifestyle has to be more expensive–but you can’t come at it from the view of a consumerist–the point is to NOT consume! I buy organic, lots of bulk beans/grains/nuts, but nothing processed (often more expensive) and rarely eat out–so, net costs is the same. Hybrids are not actually so friendly so I walk/bike and use public transit–WAY cheaper than having any car. Even using your car less is cheaper and better than driving around a Prius all day. Using natural cleaners made out of vinegar and other simple things (there are bazillions of recipes online) is cheaper than anything and non-toxic. So tehre are ways of doing things.

I think a lot of people are frustrated for the reasons you mention–”they” are trying to make you spend more and buy more for a more green lifestyle, which is very problematic.

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JEM • April 30, 2008 at 11:42 am

I agree with you some levels. I don’t want to use too many artificial things but I don’t mind using some, because they do in fact help me lose weight. If I crave something sweet, I have things like diet soda, and sugar free chocolate to fall back on.

I feel you need to find the lifestyle choices that work best for you. For some than including some “fake” foods and for others they only want the purest things passing their lips. Ether way it is a personal choice.

I recently had 12 weeks free with a personal trainer/nutritionist. Each week the nutritionist/trainer would look at my my food log and critic it and ask me to make changes for the next week. By week 6 I felt I was eating so well. Yet she still would find something wrong with it. She would say “I saw you ate tangerines for your snack, those are awfully high in sugar, why don’t you eat berries instead.” It was driving my nuts. If I swapped crackers for tangerines, that is a great thing! It just reminded me you can always take nutrition to an extreme. How extreme do you want to be, and where do you draw the line so you don’t go crazy trying to be perfect?

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Allison • April 30, 2008 at 11:56 am

I think this is my favorite post of yours yet. You’re hilarious and insightful.

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Kate • April 30, 2008 at 12:52 pm

I avoid artificial sweeteners like the plague because they usually make my stomach hurt. My mother can’t eat them either. I can also taste them instantly and they have this unpleasant, cloying artificial taste to me so I don’t enjoy food with them anyway.

I’ve cut back on my sugar consumption by a great deal and crave it a lot less now. But I’ve noticed that when I do have it now, I have less self-control. So apparently I have to eat sugary foods constantly or not at all–halfway doesn’t work. I still get to have a piece or two of donut at church on Sundays as a treat and that helps keep me from buying things that I don’t need around the house. (If donut holes were a complete nutrition item, I could live off of them.) It also keeps me away from too many processed foods now because nothing is marketed as low sugar unless it also has Splenda, which I can’t eat, so I’m learning to love plain yogurt and plain oatmeal with a dash of maple syrup instead of the instant stuff. And then I find that I really don’t miss it.

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Janice • April 30, 2008 at 2:19 pm

I try to go as natural as possible in my eating, but I have no problem drinking a diet coke once in awhile. I think everything in moderation is the key.

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VerseFameBeauty • April 30, 2008 at 2:19 pm

I avoid artificial sweeteners because I hate the taste, but also it’s important to know that high-fructose corn syrup actually turns off the receptors in your brain that get the chemical that tells you you’re full. Dangerous!

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Jen • April 30, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Hey there,

I’m new to your blog and enjoying…good for you for your marathon training and bonus! blackened toenails. Like a c-section scar, they are wounds from a hard-fought battle.

I’m on my journey with weight loss/body acceptance and have had many of the same ups and downs, especially after having 2 babies in 2 years. Crikey! It’s all good though. Love the HG website but also feel like many of the recipes have fakers in them and I’ve done a good job from cutting those out.

I remember thinking that if I…gasp!…added real sugar into my life I’d wack on 20 pounds and it NEVER happened.

Keep up the good work and the funky feet.

Jen

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Chris • April 30, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Aspartame gives me a headache, so I don’t eat stuff with it in. Also have to say that when I eat sweets with artificial sweeteners, my tastebuds seeem to be able to tell and I go in search of more sugar for lack of satisfaction.

This does not mean I am virtuous…unfortunately it means that my sugar binges are made of real sugar with all the calories that entails.

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deanna • April 30, 2008 at 2:50 pm

well said. as always.

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Andrew is getting fit • April 30, 2008 at 3:10 pm

I had this exact same experience.

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Andrew is getting fit • April 30, 2008 at 3:11 pm

I think it doesn’t really matter so much as long as you exercise restraint and moderation. The problem for me is that I find it harder to exercise restraint with sugar laden foods so I try to avoid them.

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victoria • April 30, 2008 at 3:18 pm

I don’t know why people who drink diet soda tend to weigh more, but I can testify to my personal experience: when I drink diet soda, I become ravenously hungry afterward and can’t stop thinking about food for the rest of the day. It’s the same effect sugar or white bread has: it flips the “compulsive eating” switch in my brain to the “ON” position and I get no relief from my compulsion for the rest of the day. (Sugar free gum doesn’t have this effect for some reason.) Fortunately I usually get over it by the next day, but when it happens, it’s really scary, and not just that I can’t control the number of calories going into my body while I’m in the compulsion. It’s scary because I feel totally insane to be obsessing about food for hours on end when I’m not hungry and have no real need for nutrition. Diet soda, like sugar, pasta, or white bread, makes me feel like some circus-show freak with no resemblance to the rest of humanity.

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geosomin • April 30, 2008 at 3:32 pm

There have been a few scientific studies done that show that some individuals who eat sweetners instead of sugar do actually crave more “real” calories, as the body is biochemically ramped up to process sweet/calories it isn’t getting. It can lead to overeating or excessive hunger in some people.

I know it is true for me. Any unprocessed sugar and carbs makes me jsut more hungry…it is odd to fend off being hungry after eating a huge meal. Very strange…

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Sunny • April 30, 2008 at 3:33 pm

“You don’t have to be the healthiest eater on the planet. No one is going to give you a prize. But you can almost always make improvements”

Thank you – you have a great way of putting things into perspective. I really needed to hear this today.

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ag • April 30, 2008 at 3:37 pm

This post really brings up an interesting debate. For me, I find it fastenating that will have a diet coke with a fried food. Or be eating sausage but putting sweet & low in our coffee. I say try and eat as close to the earth when you can. The more fiber and protein you have the fuller and more satisfied you are going to feel.

When I have “the whites” sugar, rice, pasta, bread, I always end up eating more. I guess what I’m saying is, I’d rather have more calories if something is “real food” than a processed food.

I feel like it’s choosing vanity over health. I think you lost the weight is really the best way.

AG

http://www.100daysinbed.blogspot.com

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Crazylady • April 30, 2008 at 4:23 pm

It’s bizarre… I’ve been thinking about exactly this subject the last few days. I think sometimes I have just too much info swirling around in my head when it comes to food, health and losing weight! For the last while I have been having 1 diet coke on average a day plus a little dark choc with a high % of cocoa as my sweet treat while at the same time staying away from bread, pasta, potatoes etc. and it’s working slowly but surely. I find the diet coke doesn’t make me crave more sugar but bread or potatoes definitely would! Still every so often I feel bad for having the diet coke. Then I remember that you lost so much weight while drinking diet sodas and I feel ok again. Thank you!

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Crazylady • April 30, 2008 at 4:29 pm

One more thing! Is it possible to buy your book from your own site yet? I can’t wait to get it but I’m keen to cut out the middle man like you said and make sure the money goes straight to she who deserves it :)

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PastaQueen • April 30, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Not yet, but hopefully soon. BTW, it’s perfectly okay to buy the book elsewhere if you want to. I won’t be offended.

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Michelle • April 30, 2008 at 8:51 pm

I plan to be at your May 8 signing since I’m out of town on Saturday. I look forward to finally meeting you, not just randomly ending up in the same place and finding out later. :)

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Cindy • April 30, 2008 at 9:28 pm

Good post, PQ!

Everyone finds their own way on this journey, I think. If I tried to follow you, I’d get lost, and if you tried to follow me, you’d go crazy. So we each go our own way and share our thinking once in a while. Everything in moderation is very sage advice. I get a diet coke every time I go to the Cheesecake Factory, but at home I only drink milk or water (lots and lots of water!). I bake with all natural and mostly organic ingredients, so that most of the food I consume is as healthy a version as I can muster. That way, I get to go out once in a while and get those fried onion rings ~ a favorite treat. Keep us thinking—its good for all of us!

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Erin • April 30, 2008 at 9:56 pm

I just finished reading your book. I started it yesterday afternoon and just could not put it down, even with the thought of 2 final papers for graduate school looming over my head. The book was exactly what I needed right now: weight loss isn’t about fitting into a size 4 jeans or meeting the man of your dreams( I met him by just being me), it’s about caring enough about yourself to be in this world for a long time. I have a feeling I will read your book many times over. Thank you.

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PastaQueen • April 30, 2008 at 10:01 pm

Aw, thanks.

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jae • May 1, 2008 at 2:20 am

Good post and funny how there are so many views to artificial sweetners.

Years and years ago (I’m talking about 10 years) my mom and I were at my grandparents house and my mom asked for some sweet n lo and grandad pull out this little glass bottle of aspertame tablets and I swear the bottle was straight from the early 60′s. My mom used those in her coffee for the whole trip and she’s still only has just the two arms.

~j

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Befreckled • May 1, 2008 at 9:12 am

Hubby and I (both on low carb whole foods) choose to use spritzers: Club Soda and 100% fruit juice as an occasional treat. It’s still carb calories, but some of the juices are surprisingly low in sugars. The pomegranate/berry combos are very, very good. With that said, I always choose Splenda in tea over straight white sugar or a diet soda if I’m at a restaurant or friend’s house and can’t get anything else.

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Red • May 1, 2008 at 9:28 am

This is kind of why I use regular butter instead of margarine, even though I’m on a weight-loss plan. If you look at the nutrition facts, they’re almost identical. 100 calories per tablespoon, only butter is made with ingredients we all know and can pronounce. Margarine generally has like 1 less gram of fat, but has all kinds of weird chemicals.

I do have the belief that just because something says “sugar-free”, it’s not necessarily good for you, like those little sugar-free cookies. But, eating a box those is certainly better for weight loss than eating a box of regular ones.

I don’t know. It’s early.

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Zentient • May 1, 2008 at 9:37 am

Constructing and revising eating plans is so personal. I have found that issues like artificial/real sweeteners are secondary to the amount of food/calories I eat. The only way I have lost weight is by keeping my focus on portion control. It’s easy for me to get sidetracked, seeking out the large bags of “natural organic” potato chips, and huge loaves of whole wheat bread with sticks of butter from contented cows. We all have our square one we have to get back to from time to time. It’s a gift of grace every time I eat proper amounts of food without a strong desire for more.

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dietgirl • May 1, 2008 at 9:38 am

Right on! Sometimes I fear my head will explode with all the conflicting information and fantasize about being issued with nice daily silver foil packs marked FOOD like an astronaut or something.

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Curvy Jones • May 1, 2008 at 9:56 am

I, for one, drink diet coke with whatever I’m eating because full sugar soda will have me bouncing off of walls and then I will pass out from sugar overload. Not to mention the taste is not as strong in diet soda. I really can drink a diet soda and be full.. it doesn’t make me crave, I haven’t keeled over from some artificial sweetener borne disease. I cut it out for the month of May because I lose better when I am not drinking coffee and soda… other than that I love the stuff and rarely drink full sugar soda even if I am not ‘on a diet’.

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Jennifer Elder • May 1, 2008 at 12:47 pm

Very well put, I completely agree with you. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it’s all what you make of it.

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anonymous boxer • May 1, 2008 at 1:05 pm

I gave up Diet Coke and all products with artificial sweeteners six months ago and I swear my body is more “at peace” with things… the cravings are less, I have more energy. If I do “need” sugar (and hell yes I do) I try to make it honey or a more natural sweetener.

If anyone did some basic Intenet research on what those products do to our bodies, you wouldn’t want to digest them. No matter how good they taste.

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Beth • May 1, 2008 at 2:42 pm

I just want to say that I agree with you 100%. If we deprive ourselves of EVERYTHING all of the time it will be harder to stick with our healthy lifestyle for the long haul. I would rather have something sweet than nothing sweet :)

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Dana Seilhan • May 1, 2008 at 6:22 pm

If we should avoid artificial ingredients on account of we don’t understand every little thing about them yet, by that standard we should never eat again.

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MB • May 1, 2008 at 7:07 pm

It is hard to keep up with all these studies that say this is good, oh no, wait a week, it is bad, oh, sorry, it really is good. I saw an article about how vitimans may do more harm than good. At least I don’t feel so guilty about not taking them regularly.

I love Diet Coke but try to limit my intake. It cracks me up when a bunch of us are out and all the overweight people order the diet drinks and all the skinny people order the full sugar drinks. Makes you wonder ….

P.S. Can’t wait to hear about the book signing. I’m sure it was a huge success.

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Trisaratops • May 2, 2008 at 12:14 am

I am de-lurking finally, for 2 reasons. First, just finished your book – and loved it. I loved your observation that being thin doesn’t make you happy,and that the real joy comes from overcoming an obstacle. Me too! Actually, I found myself nodding along as I read, and wanting to shout ME TOO every 5 pages. I also loved how you revel in your body now. I’m down nearly 65 pounds, and I can’t wait to get to the other side! And I love my body now too.

I am in the real fat, real sugar camp. I don’t like artificial sweetners whatsoever, and I do fall in the organic produce, more natural food side of things. But I’m no angel, as I do have a shameful love of high fructose corn syrup in candies, which is not real or natural either. But I am not a big soda person, so I might fall in the splenda camp if I were. I really appreciate your respectful approach – we all get to eat what is right for us. And for me, that means no splenda, aspartame, equal, saccharin or margarine.

Congratulations on your success!

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kim • May 2, 2008 at 5:38 am

Good Luck at the Mini tomorrow! I will be there as well but 3 weeks ago I sprained my medial ligament so am only cleared for walking with a LITTLE jogging…after months and months and months of training I just wanna cry! Anyway good luck and am looking forward to reading your recap! Good luck at your book signing. If I can get my anti book husband to take me I would like to pop in to meet you! I love your outlook on fat recovery!

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PastaQueen • May 2, 2008 at 6:50 am

That sucks that you won’t be able to run the whole mini. I was afraid that might happen to me when I hurt my foot two months ago, but I was luck and it recovered. Hope to see you at the party!

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Roni • May 2, 2008 at 7:35 am

It’s been said, I’m sure, but the key is MODERATION! on both sides of the hat (sugar/artificial). Too much of a bad or a good thing just isn’t good for you.

Can’t wait to have you stop by my place! :~)

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Helen • May 2, 2008 at 3:40 pm

My theory about this is “to each her/his own”. I’m now in my 14th year of really paying attention to what I eat and I have just this year decided to get rid of artificial sweeteners. I’m glad I didn’t get rid of them at the outset — I still needed my “treat” a lot more then.

P.S. Your honey paragraph made me laugh out loud…thanks! ;-)

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ar • May 2, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Dear PastaQueen. I have admired all your progress and the running and the book. Awesome milestones and an act to follow for sure.

However, I am worried how healthy artificial sweetners can be for anybody, and especially people with chemical imbalance issues. Possibly some people with overweight issues are in sparkling health but it is very well documented in medical journals that artificial sweetners do add a burden to our systems.

Life is subtle as we all know. What we eat and drink today, or even smoke, will not necessarily manifest in our bodies as ailments today or tomorrow. It may take decades to manifest into sins and may even be unprovable as the cause. BUT, this is pretty common sense. If you put chemicals in your body that are inorganic, they are going to have to be processed in a special way by our livers. We are giving our livers extra work to do. And if our livers cannot get rid of the chemicals, they are going to stockpile the excess in the fatty layers of our body. When there is an excess of toxins or we loose our fat they seem to sometimes escape into our blood stream. Our body cannot recognize these toxins and start to attack them. Soon our immune systems are run down by this, or we start to develop auto-immune diseases. At the time when we become aware that we have an auto-immune disease or some of our organs have been challenged it is well decades after consumption of harmful substances. I truly believe that when artificial sweeteners are taken more than occasionally that they do have an impact on our bodies. Common sense says that to me.

There is so much medical evidence out there that artificial sweeteners can be harmful for our health. Especially for people who are already challenged. I copied an abstract of a recent article in PubMed (peer-reviewed journal articles) below:

1: Salud Publica Mex. 2008 Mar-Apr;50(2):173-95. Links

[Beverage consumption for a healthy life: recommendations for the Mexican population][Article in Spanish]

Rivera JA, Muñoz-Hernández O, Rosas-Peralta M, Aguilar-Salinas CA, Popkin BM, Willett WC.

Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, Cuernavaca, Morelos, México. jrivera@insp.mx

The Expert Committee in charge of developing the Beverage Consumption Recommendations for the Mexican Population was convened by the Secretary of Health for the purpose of developing evidence-based guidelines for consumers, health professionals, and government officials. The prevalence of overweight, obesity and diabetes have dramatically increased in Mexico; beverages contribute a fifth of all calories consumed by Mexicans. Extensive research has found that caloric beverages increase the risk of obesity. Taking into consideration multiple factors, including the health benefits, risks, and nutritional implications associated with beverage consumption, as well as consumption patterns in Mexico, the committee classified beverages into six levels. Classifications were made based on caloric content, nutritional value, and health risks associated with the consumption of each type of beverage and range from the healthier (level 1) to least healthy (level 6) options, as follows: Level 1: water; Level 2: skim or low fat (1%) milk and sugar free soy beverages; Level 3: coffee and tea without sugar; Level 4: non-caloric beverages with artificial sweeteners; Level 5: beverages with high caloric content and limited health benefits (fruit juices, whole milk, and fruit smoothies with sugar or honey; alcoholic and sports drinks), and Level 6: beverages high in sugar and with low nutritional value (soft drinks and other beverages with significant amounts of added sugar like juices, flavored waters, coffee and tea). The committee recommends the consumption of water as a first choice, followed by no or low-calorie drinks, and skim milk. These beverages should be favored over beverages with high caloric value or sweetened beverages, including those containing artificial sweeteners. Portion size recommendations are included for each beverage category and healthy consumption patterns for men and women are illustrated.

PMID: 18372998 [PubMed - in process]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18372998?ordinalpos=4&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

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francois • May 11, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Not sure if this is the right place to post this– I just discovered your blog and watched your clip on the Today show. You are an amazing inspiration. The pics on your site serve a great purpose but the clip from Today shows how beautiful you are. I hope you have great success with your book. Through your honesty, you have been and will continue to be helping many others.

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susan • May 14, 2008 at 7:55 pm

After giving up artificial sweetener last fall, I’ve had far, far fewer migraines. Just sayin’.

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susan • May 14, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Annie’s catsup has no HFCS.

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