Diet food – Weighing the Pros and Cons

Starting from low fat, low cal stuff all the way to fat free, calorie free stuff, you get every possible variety of processed food these days – not to mention the ubiquitous diet soda! And we, as normal people, are caught up between the health activists, who are dead against anything chemically processed and the companies, with amazing promises backed by their so-called research!

 

Is diet food all bad? Or is there any truth behind the tall claims? Read on to find out if this is a boon or bane…

 

What is diet food?

Any food that claims to be low sugar, low cal, low fat or sugar-free, fat-free or calorie-free would be classified as diet food. They are chemically processed to taste as close to the natural variety as possible but with reduced or no sugar, fat or even calories all together. Sometimes natural substitutes are used – like honey instead of sugar to get the sweet taste without the sugar. But, mostly it’s all chemically processed.

 

Why do you want to have diet food?

Before you actually switch to diet food find out why you want to do it:

- Do you want to lose weight?

- Do you want to maintain your current weight?

- Do you have a medical condition like diabetes that prevents you from having sugar?

 

This will give you an idea of whether the switch is temporary or permanent. Once you ascertain that you can make a lot of simple changes that will help you reduce your dependency on such food and stay healthy

 

Is having diet food harmful for the body?

Everyday new studies come up with alarming facts about regular, everyday stuff like coffee or chocolates. The very next day another research talks about how amazing they are for our health. So, if we were to go by research findings, we will only end up being paranoid and there will be nothing left for us to eat. It gets trickier when it comes to diet food, as there is an added element of vested interests of the competitors.

 

Well, if you ask me, anything that goes against nature cannot be very good for the body. But, the harm part really depends on how much we are addicted to them. Anything in excess is not good. It’s best to use our judgment in deciding what and how much to eat. Initially it might seem overwhelming but with some practice, it would come naturally to you.

 

If your switch to diet food is temporary, there is no reason to worry. But, if it’s a permanent change due to a medical condition, you may want to explore other possibilities.

 

When is it ok to have diet food?

 

When the low fat is due to alternate cooking methods and not due to change in ingredients

For instance, if you have a choice between baked potato chips and the fried variety, you should always choose the baked. It’s the kind of diet food that has less fat, less calories and is healthy.

When the regular variety does more harm than good

For instance, chewing gum with sugar is terrible for teeth. Sugar free chewing gum has the same great taste and is actually good for the teeth too. In fact two sugar free gums a day can go a long way in keeping teeth cavity-free and breath minty fresh!

When the substitute doesn’t taste very different from the original food

For instance, some people find no difference between soda and diet soda. Others would rather stay thirsty than drink diet soda. So, if the taste is unpleasant or bothers you, please don’t torture yourself. Stick to the regular variety but in limited quantity or find other alternatives like iced-tea or even flavored water.

If you are just starting out on a weight loss mission

The diet varieties come in real handy. You don’t feel all deprived but at the same time, the calorie intake is drastically reduced. It really boosts the weight loss. Something that amazes me is the fat-free cheese – isn’t cheese milk-fat – then what is fat-free cheese? Anyway, it tastes as good as the real cheese but has half the total calories and zero fat calories. That is reason enough for me to substitute the regular variety with this one in my sandwiches.

If you are diabetic or have other medical conditions that prevent you from having regular food

This is one case where the shift is more or less permanent. Even then, what I would suggest is having the natural stuff but reducing the frequency and the serving size drastically. Face it, sugar-free varieties aren’t always the best tasting. Instead of eating the sugar free variety and feeling miserable, you can have a small bite of the real cheesecake once in a while.

And when it comes to coffee (something you need everyday), you can slowly get into the habit of having coffee without sugar instead of having sugar substitutes. You start by reducing the quantity of sugar over a period of time till you can completely do without it. Trust me, once you start liking the real coffee taste, you will never go back to coffee with sugar.

 

When should you switch back to regular food?

The switch back to the regular version is required only when the diet version is chemically processed and is not good for health if consumed for a prolonged period of time. The following are some instances that warrant a switch back.

When your weight loss target has been achieved

If you have reached your goal or are almost there, there is no need to continue with the diet food for maintaining your weight. By now you should have a fairly good idea of what, when and how much to eat. There will be no question of mindless binging. So you can safely switch back to the regular food and exercise to burn all the extra calories and stay at the same weight.

When your diabetes is well under control

If you have formed the habit of drinking coffee without sugar, one of the main sources of compulsory sugar is completely out of the picture. The occasional dessert need not be the ones made from sugar-substitutes. If you think about it, we get enough satisfaction from really small portions. What’s the point in having a large piece of sugar-free dessert if the small bite of the regular variety is more appealing to your taste buds? Once you have brought the sugar-level under control and you don’t over-indulge, it’s perfectly alright to eat the sugar variety.

If you find it an ordeal

Nothing should be agonizing. You should enjoy the weight loss process. So, if you feel chemically processed diet food makes you feel miserable, you don’t have to suffer. Cut down on your calorie intake and have small servings of the real thing once in a while. Your weight loss target may be achieved a little late but at least you will have fun the entire time!

 

Summary:

  • Diet food includes all low-cal, low-sugar, low-fat, calorie-free, sugar-free and fat-free food
  • Find out the real reason for your switch to the diet variety – is it temporary or permanent?
  • Diet food can actually be better than the regular variety in certain cases – baked chips, sugar free gum
  • Do switch back to the regular variety when prolonged consumption of the diet food may be harmful for the body
  • Never consume diet food if you find it disgusting. Stick to the regular variety and cut down on frequency and serving size.

 

Comments

  1. commentator says:

    Thanks for the nice post. Diet food from reputed sources is good, i think. But i believe most on daily exercise and healthy foods to get good health. These two factors, if properly maintained, can make a difference to your health.

  2. Seafehiram says:

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