Sugar-free and fat-free diets are a facade, they are not the path to weight loss. Well-meaning humans are reaching for sugar-free and fat- free food items thinking they will help them lose weight, get their blood sugar under control and decrease their risk of heart disease.
We think we are doing ourselves a service. For many years I was caught in this matrix as well, believing I was building my health.
The marketing geniuses are coming for you and me. They are coming for our children. We have to be vigilant.
The Other Side of the Sugar-free and Fat-free story
Low fat and fat-free foods brought to market over the past 50 years are hyper palatable, meaning the momentary enjoyment of their ingestion is 10 out of 10, but guess what, they raise our insulin levels, trigger our fat cells to hold onto energy, slow our metabolic rate, and make us hungry.
Fantastic news for the investors in Nestle and General Mills, but for the consumer, it is diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and out-of-control appetites, which lead to depression and anxiety. I have seen this sugar-free ideology escape the processed foods aisle and attack whole foods, specifically fruit.
Changing Our Mindset Around Sugar-free and Fat-free foods
In fact, last week I had a patient tell me “I know I should cut out berries because they have so much sugar” and another common one is “I stopped eating bananas because of the sugar content.”
Yet this same mindset thinks it’s healthy to eat a sugar-free granola bar or a muffin. This is complete madness but understandable, given that this is the standard advice for anyone wanting to lose weight or “get healthy” these days.
Berries are not the enemy. Bananas are not the enemy. These foods are divinely created with the sole purpose of sustaining life and satisfying your sweet receptors.
When we consume sugar-free and fat-free pseudo foods, we are seeding cravings, inability to control appetite, and excess calorie consumption into our being. It is a momentary thrill.
In 2022, Americans spent $65 billion on sugar-free foods. The answer to less sugar in your food routine is not sugar-free soda, sugar-free white chocolate mochas, and sugar-free ranch dressing. The answer is whole foods that are naturally sweet – like berries, apples, honey, and maple syrup.
Breaking Free from Artificial Sweeteners
Be forewarned, when you drop artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, Splenda, Ace K, you could very well have intense withdrawal reactions as these artificial sweeteners are addictive. I think about my patient with insomnia, chronic joint pain, fatty liver, who drinks 8-12 cans of diet Dr Pepper each day and cannot see living without them even though it’s stripping him of his health. This is real stuff and all the more reason to break free.
One of the issues with sugar-free but sweet products is that they turn on the reward center in the brain just like sugar does, but the reward is only at about 50% of the brain’s expectation so the brain sends back more signals saying “hey we didn’t get what we needed, have another serving.” The end result is the destruction of our willpower.
In other words, artificial sweeteners may send a signal to our brains to keep chasing a “high” that diet soda will always keep out of reach.
You and your family deserve better. Try going a week without sugar-free food items or fat-free labeled foods. For more on this topic, check out the article, Are Artificial Sweeteners Making You Fat?