Monday, March 4, 2013

It Started as a Joke...

About to enjoy my turkey birthday cake!
*This post is less about my athleticism and more a rant. Read on if you wish to learn about my disdain for aspartame. 

You may remember a few weeks ago I posted about giving up Diet Coke. I am officially aspartame free for over a month. If I am being totally honest with you, I quit drinking Diet Coke and eating products with aspartame because of an article I read about the impacts of aspartame that was, in part, refuted by snopes.com. The article talked about all of the negative impacts aspartame has on your body including twitching of muscles, symptoms similar to multiple sclerosis, ringing in the ears, weight gain, brain damage and my favorite, formaldehyde poisoning.

I went to work the next day sans my Diet Coke and announced that I was giving up Diet Coke because I jokingly self diagnosed myself with formaldehyde poisoning. My colleagues and I got a good chuckle out of this and we started blaming all of my personal afflictions on FP. Yep, you got it, we started calling formaldehyde poisoning FP. We still joke about it actually. If I have a headache, my colleagues say it must be FP. Cold? FP. Eye twitch? FP. Hungry? Well it must be FP.

Here is where I have to tell you that Snopes stated that FP is not real however it is true that aspartame, at a certain temperature, does convert to formaldehyde and then to formate. You can read more about it here. Now the response on Snopes was written by a representative for the FDA, and he states that the levels of what we actually ingest is fairly modest. But, what doesn't make sense to me is this: Why the heck would we want to ingest something that converts to the same chemical that preserves our dead bodies.

Now, let me state that I am not a scientist or a researcher on the topic and my knowledge base is what I can find randomly on the internet but there is one consistent thing that I keep finding and that is aspartame seems to have a lot of controversy surrounding it. What actually put me over the edge today was this blog post (again, I haven't verified its validity) that talks about the milk industry wanting to have the ability to put aspartame in milk. Why? Because the sale of milk has been decreasing over the years? This article states that although the sales of regular milk has been decreasing over the years, the sales of organic milk has been increasing. Perhaps it is because we all are smart people and can see the growth hormones that are pumped into cows are not great for our bodies and so we switched to the better product. And now they want to add aspartame to milk?

I don't even know what to say about all of this. Let me also mention that I am not big on gimmicky diets and so for me to declare that I am giving up a particular item is kind of hilarious to both me and my friends. But I've tried some of those crazy diets in my past and I know that they aren't really sustainable. I mean, come on now, if you don't have a medical reason, such as celiacs disease or ADHD or diabetes or high blood pressure, dictating a specific diet then moderation and exercise are the key to health. I am kind of tired of hearing about the gluten free, dairy free, meat free, vegan, sugar free, I eat water diets. I seem to be having success losing weight eating veggies, meat, dairy, grains and even cake and ice cream from time to time. The difference now is that I am not eating cake with fake sugar and guess what? I haven't gained any weight because I exercise too.

Now here is the thing, aspartame is a manufactured chemical that makes food taste sweet, which is why people like it when on diets or trying to decrease their sugar consumption. They can still eat or drink that additional item because it has fewer calories. I bought into it too. I was drinking diet coke because it tasted better than water and the bubbles, oh the bubbles... The fact of the matter is this; the week I gave up all things aspartame and fake sugar I lost 2.6 lbs, the following week? 2.2 lbs. I've gained a little back since those first two weeks because the moderation thing is hard and takes will power, and I was lacking some of that will power last week, but I find comfort in knowing that I didn't put any manufactured chemicals in my body. Additionally, I had some odd twitches in my legs and fingers, was getting tired often, craving sweets all the time and had some ringing in my ears prior to giving up aspartame and most of those annoying things have subsided.

Now I can't attribute all of those improvements solely on my lack of consuming aspartame but I am certain it didn't hurt matters either. So I am going to charge on eating food and enjoying food. I'm simply not going to eat any more fake food, and I'll still probably lose some weight and feel better about it in the long run!

And to think this all started as a joke...


1 comment:

  1. I noticed changes like that too when I gave up Sweet N Low about a year ago. I still do have a small amount of aspartame when I eat mints but I'll probably stop that too. I am getting to the point where I don't want to eat something that I cannot pronounce the ingredients. Hmmm, how long will it take for me to convince Steve to give up Diet soda!??

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