Re: Are 'diet' products harmful?
I have read a number of books by Michael Pollan. While I am not a fanatic about eating only "bio" foods, I do tend to agree with him that eating foods as close to their natural state as possible is better than eating artificial foods. This means that I would rather put a bit of granulated sugar in my tea than artificial sweeteners. I cook from scratch and try not to buy any products with a long list of ingredients. As the years go by, I am eating more veggies and more whole-grain rather than white flour foods.
My feeling is that even though the human body has amazing powers of healing itself, we in the western world are bombarded in the environment and in the manufactured foods that we consume with a tremendous number of artificial substances that didn't exist 50 years ago. Many of these chemicals are beneficial by themselves. Tests show that each individual substance is not harmful. As I said, the human body has amazing powers to withstand lots of foreign bacteria and viruses and chemicals. But my concern is that the substances that we are bombarded with everyday are in the thousands -- there are substances outgassing from our carpets and furniture, there are particles in the air from factories and autos, there are a long list of chemicals that we put onto our bodies in our shampoos and lotions and perfumes and washing powders and so on. Some of these chemicals we can choose to do without (we can use different cleaning products or toothpaste, for example), but many of them surround us and we can't do anything about them short of moving to the woods or a mountain top.
So I concentrate on doing what I can to minimize the chemicals and artificial things that my body has to deal with everyday by choosing to purchase individual foods and put them together into meals myself. As I said, I am not a fanatic about this in every detail, but the vast majority of what I eat is real food. Artificial sweeteners may fool our taste buds, but they are still artificial, and are still just one more thing that our bodies have to handle.
My concern is to minimize the things that my body has to recover from, so that my body has a better chance of being healthy for a longer time.
This is a good topic for discussion. Everyone has a different idea of what constitutes a healthy diet. And artificial sweeteners are certainly popular, and people are not dropping like flies in obvious numbers from consuming them, even in large quantities.
Making a major change to your diet is indeed a difficult thing. It is much easier to follow the patterns that make mealtime and snacktime so automatic. It takes a while of paying attention and learning new shopping habits and cooking habits to make those changes as automatic as the old habits were, and it certainly takes time to get used to the taste of "real" foods when we are used to the taste of artificial flavors.
But think of it as an adventure -- you have the chance to discover new foods and ways of preparing them that you didn't know about before. And you certainly don't have to make a major change all at once. As I said, I've been making changes bit by bit for years.