The Problem With Diet Food

By Betsy Bradford

Like many of us, I am trying to lose weight. Personally, to prefer eat well and exercise. I tend to skip any kind of diet or so-called diet foods, but every now and then, my curiosity gets the better of me, and I'll buy some new product that claims to curb all of your cravings and still be totally guilt free.

For example, a couple months ago, I discovered a new product called Arctic Zero. I kept hearing: "It's delicious! And it's only 150 calories for the whole pint!" That sounded pretty good, especially compared with 1000 calories in a pint of Ben and Jerry's. Still, I was a little wary, so I did some supplementary research to find out how they reduced the calories so drastically. I try to avoid highly processed foods, so I was impressed to see that Arctic Zero used all natural ingredients, like swapping out some sugar with healthier monk fruit. If it was also delicious, then I was on board!

On my next trip to Whole Foods, I picked up a pint, figuring that it would be at least passable, and just maybe revolutionary. But when I got it home, the Arctic Zero was so hard that I couldn't even scoop into it. I left it on the counter to soften, which it never really did. With great effort, I managed to chisel some out, but as I prized the scoops out, I couldn't overlook the unappetizing strings going back into the pint. And then I tasted it. It was revolutionary, all right. I don't know how they pulled it off, but somehow the texture managed to be simultaneously rock-like and mucosal. Worse, the addition of monk fruit created a vegetal aftertaste, negating any of the sweetness it may have imparted. Suddenly, I didn't care that Arctic Zero was only 150 calories per pint; I could barely force myself to finish half a cup.

Then, I remembered exactly why I despise diet food; after you've removed the fat and sugar, you're left with a product that's simultaneously unpleasant and unsatisfying. Despite this, Americans lap up these foods. But if these products are as good as they claim, why is the obesity epidemic spreading? This points to another fundamental problem with diet food. No matter what labels you slap on the packaging, it's still going to have calories. If you eat too much, you will gain weight.

For the new year, I'm going to recommend something revolutionary. Fellow dieters, rather than scarfing disgusting diet foods, let's try restraint. Would I rather eat a full pint of Arctic Zero every day, or have a small scoop of Ben and Jerry's once in a while? After all, it isn't impossible to have a 150 calorie portion of regular ice cream; you just have to use will power. On other nights, have a healthier dessert, like fresh fruit or a cup of yogurt.

I know what I'm suggesting isn't easy. In essence, I'm telling you to stop making small changes, and overhaul your entire attitude regarding food and diet instead. Still, products like Arctic Zero are flying off the shelf, even though it's clear to me that the only good thing you can say about it is that it only has 150 calories per pint. I believe that loading up your diet with healthened versions of bad foods really isn't improving your diet. Wouldn't we be better off eating food that's both healthy and tasty? Then, we can save rich or sweet foods for occasional treats. Picture it: you can eat the foods you love, the real foods, without having the feel guilty! What could be sweeter than that?