Serious Sunday: Why I Don’t Drink “Diet”

Image: Creative Commons, Taken by: Roadsidepictures on Flickr

I know what you are thinking.  “Jen, don’t you even go trying to take one of my biggest diet-friendly guilty pleasures away from me!”  I felt the same way, believe me.  Ever since sometime in middle or high school, I have been a HEAVY, and I do mean HEAVY diet soda drinker.  It was my main source of fluid for years… and even though it said “Diet” on the front, I never managed to lose weight.  (Of course, the other FOODS were a contributor to this, for sure!)  So, recently, I decided to do some research.  As I am making my lifestyle change, I am not only trying to lose weight, but also to get really HEALTHY!  Something I am not so sure I have ever been before.  What I found was scary.  I quit drinking diet sodas and tried to switch to water.  I relapsed! (Good gravy, addict terms?! Oh yes, I was for sure!)  However, I have finally gotten it fully out of my system and I feel so much better for having done it!
Let me give you some of the facts and you can make your own decisions.  We’re all big kids here, right?

  • “Aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods.” – Dr. Mercola (Click to view his website)
  • It is known by NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal Measure.
  • “Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA.”
  • “According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of aspartame: Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson’s disease, alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.”
  • In Laymen’s terms, the ingredients in aspartame kill off neurons in your brain.
  • “A few of the many chronic illnesses that have been shown to be contributed to by long-term exposure to excitatory amino acid damage include:
    • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
    • ALS
    • Memory loss
    • Hormonal problems
    • Hearing loss
    • Epilepsy
    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Hypoglycemia
    • AIDS
    • Dementia
    • Brain lesions
    • Neuroendocrine disorders
  • Side effects as reported to the FDA include:
      • Headaches/migraines
      • Nausea
      • Abdominal pains
      • Fatigue (blocks sufficient glucose entry into brain)
      • Sleep problems
      • Vision problems
      • Anxiety attacks
      • Depression
      • Asthma/chest tightness”

Excuse my bullets gone wild up there.  All of this information has been pulled from Dr. Mercola’s website.  He is a doctor who is very passionate about the negative effects of aspartame.  You can click the quote on the first bullet to go to his site and get more information.

Giving up diet soda wasn’t easy for me, but the benefits are worth it.  I feel better, have less headaches (once I went through the withdrawal period) and save money!

I drink naturally flavored waters now, such as Hint water, which contains no sweeteners of any kind but still gives you a nice fruity flavor.  For those who love the fizz of soda, they also make fizzy waters!

Picture from the website.


Treats from the Heavens

One of the mistakes I have made in my previous diets, aside from them being DIETS and not lifestyle changes, is depriving myself of many food pleasures.  One thing I know for certain is that I have a sweet tooth!  I often struggle with this when I don’t allow myself to eat foods with processed sugars.  This means no ice cream, cookies, cakes, candies, etc.  However, I can be very realistic in saying that this will NEVER work for me as a lifestyle.  A girl needs her sweet treats!  So, after some hunting around on the web, I found various recipes that said you could combine any can of fruity pie filling with a boxed mix for angel food cake and it would make a delicious treat.  Tonight, I made it with strawberry.  I am going to share this with you because it was ridiculously delicious!

I broke down the nutritional content and figured that if you get 16 servings from one 9 x 13 pan, each serving contains:

  • 140 calories
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 254.375mg sodium
  • 32.75 grams of carbs
  • 24.25 of which are from sugar
  • 1.5 grams of protein

  1. These are the products I chose.  I read that you can do any type of fruity pie mix: blueberry, apple, pumpkin, cherry, etc.
  2. The strawberry pie filling had large chunks of strawberries in it…
  3. …so, I pureed it with my handy dandy stick blender to get a better consistency for a cake.
  4. Pureed goodness.
  5. Mixed with the angel food mix – no other ingredients!  It gets super fluffy.
  6. Pour it into a 9 x 13 pan.  I did spray mine with baking spray so it wouldn’t stick.
  7. Bake it at 350 for 30 – 35 minutes, depending upon your pan.  Check the center to make sure it is cooked through.  it will be dense.
  8. Expect large amounts of shrinkage.
  9. Enjoy, add a dollop of Cool Whip Free for a little added creaminess and you have yourself a strawberry shortcake-esque slice of Heaven!  Holy smokes, this was delicious!

As I discover more healthy-ish treats, I will certainly post them.  Please feel free to let me know of any of your hidden treasures!

A New Beginning… Take 2,000,000.

I feel like I have started on this journey so many times that I couldn’t even count if I tried to.  I have been a life long dieter.  Since high school, I have tried everything from weight loss pills, the Atkin’s diet, Weight Watchers, Sensa, diets of my own creation, etc.  However, the fact of the matter is, none of them have lasted!   I have been successful in significant weight a few times in my life.  But good grief, wouldn’t you know that is always comes creeping back with an extra 10 or 20.  The problem is that I have not madelifestyle changes.  I have always just seen my changes as a temporary solution.  I think that is why this time will be different.

My father was diagnosed a few years ago with Type II Diabetes.  I never really realized how serious of a disease diabetes can be.  I figured, “Eh, you take the pill or inject and all is well.”  I was naive.  My father has a string of health conditions now that have been caused by his diabetes.  He is currently awaiting oral surgery that will cause him to drink out of a straw for a month because the sugar levels in his blood have caused him to have issues with his teeth and gums.  He has high blood pressure, skin sensitivity, fatigues easily if he isn’t exercising actively everyday, etc.  This has become one of my huge motivators.  I can see the worry on his face when he looks at me, the heaviest I have ever been, and sees his future for me – only it will start sooner for me than it did for him.

Another motivation is simply feeling good and being healthy.  I would love to be able to do physical activities and not feel like I am jiggling all over the place or huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf.  I am not engaged yet, but I know that I will be in the nearish future, and quite frankly, who wants to be the heaviest they have ever been on their wedding day?  I would like to hopefully have children someday.  I don’t want to put myself or my children at a higher risk of disease and complications.  Finally, on the most vain level, I want to lookgood and I want to be able to wear the cute fashionable clothes that I can only drool over in my current state.

I know there are millions of women out there who feel like me in one sense or another.  Perhaps you are already battling Type II Diabetes or are desperately trying to prevent it’s onset.  Perhaps you are preparing yourself for one of the biggest events of your life.  Perhaps you just want to feel great and look good.  Either way, we can do this, together!

The key is to understand that this change cannot be a temporary one if this is to last.  We have to make changes to our diet and exercise everyday.  Yep, I said it.  EVERYDAY!  It is going to stink.  There are going to be days where you will want to cry as you tie on your sneakers, but you must!  My goal is to find things that I truly enjoy doing and to try new things!  I am going to try to eat very healthy with the understanding that there will be days where I am probably going to have a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone.  You just have to understand that that one ice cream cone doesn’t mean that you have to restart your diet on Monday or just give up for the rest of the week.  You didn’t blow your day or your diet because life happens and it isn’t a diet!  It is a life change.

Feel free to track my diet and exercise progress at MyFitnessPal.