My take on “diet” and “alternate” foods

“Oh my God, that’s awful” were I’m pretty certain the exact words out of my girlfriend’s mouth after just one spoonful of cookie shake flavored ARCTIC ZERO. My reaction wasn’t as dramatic, but she was right. That stuff is terrible.

Now, if you don’t know what ARCTIC ZERO is, it is a low calorie alternative to traditional ice cream. They come in all assortments of flavors and are distributed in pints that you can find at pretty much any grocery store these days. They also make chocolate dipped bars, but I’m not even willing to try those after the first frozen fiasco.

But then again, we should have known better from the get go. Why? Well these are the ingredients of this stuff:

  • Purified water
  • Whey protein concentrate
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Chicory root
  • Sugarcane fiber
  • Dutch processed cocoa powder with alkali
  • Guar gum
  • Xanthan gum
  • Natural flavors
  • Organic vanilla
  • Sea salt
  • Monk fruit concentrate

I mean the first ingredient is water for crying out loud! I don’t see the word “cream” in there once. And this is, after all, ICE CREAM! But thank the Lord the vanilla is organic.

So this brings me to the point I’d like to get across for this week’s post. And that is all these products out there that are designed to let you have your cake and eat it too. You see, these pints vary in their caloric content, but this particular one rang it at a mere 150 calories….. for the ENTIRE pint. Too good to be true. The label also proudly touts that a serving (1/2 cup) will only set you back 35 calories, but believe me you’re better off saving those calories for something worthwhile.

Now I’m making an example out of ARCTIC here, but it’s not a new idea and by far not the only impostor out there. Skinny Cow, for example, makes a ton of varieties of ¬†lower calorie ice cream as well as candy bars. Although I’ve had their ice cream sandwiches and I think they are pretty good actually. But there are others out there that target the savory crowd as well. Anyone remember the “WOW” variety of chips that came out in the late 90’s to early 2000’s? They touted they were low fat/fat free and they used this product called Olestra as the fat substitute. They tasted kind of funky, but most importantly, they also caused people to shit their pants. Seriously, the label read: “This Product Contains Olestra. Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools.” A very similar affect is derived from consuming too many sugar free foods. They contain sugar alcohols that will wreak havoc when consumed in large doses. If you’re so inclined, you can YouTube Haribo sugar free gummy bear challenge. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now, there are some things that have come along in the food industry designed to help whittle our waists away that I think have some merit. For example, individually packaged nuts. They sell them in 100 calorie portions and I’m a fan because it’s easy for me to pound down 4-5 times that amount without even thinking about it. Along those same lines are portion, and therefore, calorie controlled packs of hummus and peanut butter. Again, these are two very calorie dense foods that can add up very quickly. But the thing about them is that they haven’t been altered. It’s the same stuff, just portion controlled. No whey protein concentrate or sugar cane fiber here. There are other items to mention, such as sugar free gum (again, not too much), but I’d rather chat about where my stance used to be on these items (as well as healthier versions of your favorite foods) and where my stance is now.

So way back when I was just a dumb kid learning about nutrition at Purdue, we were always coming up with ways to make some of our favorite dishes healthier. If you’ve followed my blog at all you know that I really, really, really like pizza. I’m a self-labeled pizza connoisseur. So for years I was experimenting with ways to make it healthier. For example, less cheese and more sauce. Fewer fatty meats and more veggies. Thin, whole wheat crust instead of deep dish. You get the point. And that’s all fine and dandy, but here’s where that idea, as my friend Kyle would put it, “shit’s the bed”. If you are really craving a well made, cheese and meat laden deep dish, but you instead resist and make a thin crust veggie, you’ve made the healthier choice, sure, but you haven’t gotten rid of your craving. You know damn good and well that all the while you were eating the veggie ‘za you were dreaming about the multi meat monster you truly wanted. Now, if this is a multiple week occasion thing, then yeah you can’t expect to get the deep dish all the time. Rather, I’m referring to those random, every once in a while times (think every 6-8 weeks). Enjoy it! Just don’t gorge out on it, man.

So this is where it all ties together. Those ARCTIC ZERO things sucked. If you want ice cream, get the real deal. Have a few bites and really enjoy and savor them. Eat slowly. This allows you to get what you were really after without adding excess calories. If it’s pizza, get the good stuff, but limit it to 1-2 slices and again, really enjoy it. Whatever food it is that you enjoy that might not be the best for your diet and health, try this tip out. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Also, fat free salad dressing sucks.

 

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1 Comment

  1. Christine Wilson

    Keep these blogs coming.

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