The Truth About “Skinny” Foods And Why You Need To Stop Eating Them
This time of year, it seems that sweets of all kinds are lurking around every corner. You’ve got your aunt’s famous fudge, your sister’s amazing baked goods, and every seasonal assortment of flavored coffee you could possibly imagine. You always feel guilty for eating so much sugar, but you can’t really enjoy the season without a peppermint mocha topped with whipped cream and a sprinkling of magic sparkly candy cane crack.
So how do you keep yourself from gaining 50 pounds during the month of December? Easy! Order a “skinny” version of your favorite holiday beverage! How nice of your favorite coffee house to give you the option to savor the holidays while keeping your petite, feminine figure. Or at least, that’s what the label “skinny” is implying. But what if it’s doing the opposite?
“Sugar-Free”. Sounds great, right? Something sweet but without the sugar! The problem is that instead of sugar, you’re usually getting a nice little helping of artificial sweetener. These pesky chemical compounds are found in everything from sugar-free foods to energy shots to your skinny latte.
About 10 years ago, aspartame was all the rage (more commonly known as the main ingredient in NutraSweet and Equal) and could be found in most of your sugar-free products including diet sodas. This little gem is cloaked in legal scandal and was basically found legally and scientifically unsuitable for human consumption, but ended up on our grocery store shelves thanks to some tricky legal shenanigans and shady dealings (you can read the sketchy details in an awesome little book called Skinny Bitch).
The FDA has listed ninety-two side effects from aspartame consumption. Here’s just a few: memory loss, nerve cell damage, migraines, reproductive disorders, mental confusion, brain lesions, blindness, joint pain, Alzheimer’s, bloating, nervous system disorders, hair loss, food cravings, and weight gain.
You heard that right. Weight gain.
Wasn’t this stuff supposed to help you keep your girlish figure while you stuffed your face with holiday goodness? Maybe being skinny isn’t all about grams of sugar… and maybe health isn’t all about being skinny.
These days, Sucralose seems to be the chemical of choice. It claims it’s more natural because it’s “made from sugar”, but it’s nothing like a natural substance after the chemical process it goes through. This bad boy is most commonly found in those skinny versions of your favorite holiday beverages and is the main ingredient in “Splenda”.
In the article “The Potential Dangers of Sucralose” in Consumer Research Magazine, Dr. Joseph Mercola stated “There is no clear-cut evidence that sugar substitutes are useful in weight reduction. On the contrary, there is some evidence that these substances may stimulate appetite.”
Hmmm, interesting… Is it possible that these food companies are less concerned with your health and wellbeing and more concerned about whether or not you’re going to buy another delicious “skinny” latte?
If you’re not convinced to give up the misleading promise of a slim figure wrapped up in a coffee cozy, consider these lovely side effects that sucralose has been found to cause: diarrhea; organ, genetic, immune system, and reproductive damage; swelling of the liver and kidneys; and a decrease in fetal body weight.
Now that I’ve crushed your hopes and dreams of drinking all the holiday beverages without gaining weight from evil, evil sugar, let me give you a few things you can do to enjoy the Holiday without gaining 50 pounds OR poisoning yourself with artificial sweeteners.
Truly Wholesome Sweeteners
If you’re going to go sweet, go all the way! Focus on sweetness that comes from whole foods and is processed as little as possible. 100% pure maple syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, raw agave, and unrefined cane sugar (a.k.a. cane sugar, raw sugar, evaporated cane juice) are all super sweet and create way less of a toxic load for your beautiful bod.
My personal favorite sweetener is the stevia leaf. It’s an herb that contains zero calories or sugar (not that zero calories and sugar equal healthy, but it’s a bonus!), and has actually been used to stabilize blood sugar levels. Pretty awesome! You can even find naturally flavored varieties that are delicious in tea and coffee.
Be careful, though, because stevia is another bandwagon a lot of food brands have jumped on lately. You want to be sure to read the label and make sure there aren’t any artificial flavors or other crappiness added to tarnish its whole food goodness.
The Beauty of Balance
So now you know some of the dangers of artificial sweeteners and have a few substitutes to try… but that’s really just scratching the surface of the problem we’re facing when it comes to diet foods.
Repeat after me: “Diet foods are not always healthy foods.”
Just because someone slapped a “sugar-free” or “fat-free” or “all natural” label on a package doesn’t mean there is anything in that food that is going to nourish you.
Food companies know that you really just want one thing: to be skinny. And their advertising goes above and beyond to make sure you feel like that’s the one way you have to be in order to be happy with yourself.
But skinny does not equal healthy!
Even if one of these crazy fake foods does make you skinny, chances are it’s not because it nourished your body and your body responded by lovingly shedding the extra pounds it had been hanging on to. It’s much more likely that you’re sacrificing your health in order to try and look more like the effortlessly beautiful blonde in the yogurt ad who supposedly gave birth to four children and still has time to sit on the couch and enjoy four invigorating spoonfuls while chatting it up with her yogurt buddy.
So instead of obsessing over your waistline and depriving yourself of holiday treats until you can’t take it anymore and binge like crazy… allow yourself to indulge every once in a while. And when you do, plan it out and choose wisely. Make a deal with yourself to have a few treats here and there that have a bit of sugar that are all from natural sources.
When you plan out your indulgences you are more likely to make good decisions instead of going crazy at the last minute and eating all the Christmas cookies you just decorated with your kids before you had a chance to post them to Instagram.
I also love to take old recipes from my rebellious processed food days and reimagine them with more natural ingredients. What are your favorite treats during the holidays? How do you keep things balanced while allowing yourself to enjoy this special time of year? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. If you end up going a little crazy this year, there’s no time like January to get back on track! Register for my Nourishing New Year Challenge to learn all the basics of a balanced and nourished way of life with the support of an online community. 🙂