As one of my personal trainer friends tells me, he is gearing up for the busiest time of the year at his gym. That is the period starting on January 2nd (when everyone has recovered from their New Year’s Eve hangover) and it lasts until about mid-February – when gym goers everywhere realize that despite working out diligently three times a week, their waistline has shrunken by one quarter of an inch.
Then, for most, it’s back to business as usual – which doesn’t include designer sweats or the gym. Well, the designer sweats are still a fashion statement so maybe the former workout enthusiasts will wear them when they pick up their lattes.
Most of us realize that it’s unlikely that you’re going to earn a college degree until you’ve completed elementary school. We recognize that there is a defined plan, a curriculum which we must complete before we can move on to the next stage. If we only held that same concept in mind as we considered our weight and our health, we would collectively weigh a lot less and be far healthier.
Unfortunately, we live in an age where we expect downloads to be instantaneous and that mindset carries over into our view of everything about our lives. We want it and we want it NOW. But the cold reality of weight gain and loss is that it doesn’t happen instantaneously. Rather it is a process both on the up and downsides. And that frustrates us.
So how do we deal with the fact that nature stands in the way of our desire for instant gratification for looking sleek and svelte? For many of us the answer is that we turn to diet soda, conning ourselves into believing that consuming that beverage will counterbalance the double helping of mashed potatoes and gravy that we heaped on our plates.
Now the “stuff” that is generally used to simulate the taste of sugar in diet sodas is a man-made chemical known as aspartame. It was originally formulated by G. D. Searle which is now owned by Monsanto – the people who were greatly involved in inventing GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) vegetables.
Depending on who you speak with, aspartame may or may not be such a good thing. You may not be surprised to learn that the Coca Cola Company’s “Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness” concludes that aspartame is the greatest thing that happened to mankind since sweet and salty snacks were invented. I leave it to you to decide whether you think that is an objective assessment.
On the other hand, there are others who would differ in their view of this additive. Ninety-two different symptoms have been attributed to the consumption of aspartame. And numerous complaints have been made to the FDA by people who have consumed foods containing this chemical. The largest number of these come from people who consumed the substance in diet soda.
Perhaps you are one of those who basks in the glow of being sheltered from harm by government. If so, you assuredly are living in hog heaven today. But let’s look at facts and not philosophies for a moment.
The most recognized logo in the world belongs to the Coca Cola Company. They are the dominant player in the business of selling soda not only in America but throughout the world. And the problem of overweight is not simply our national problem but is one that is increasing throughout the globe.
We know that the refined sugar used in regular soft drinks has long-term adverse health effects – including weight gain, obesity and cardio-vascular implications. Some studies show that while aspartame has no caloric content, it actually increases appetite – thus, should that be true – defeating the purpose for which it was originally included in the beverage.
Frankly, I don’t know whether these assertions are true or false – nor do I believe that we are likely to get any honest government involvement in this as the companies that are involved in the manufacture and distribution of these iconic products carry a lot of weight and pay a lot of tax dollars into the Treasury. As we all know, “Money talks … and sometimes BS gets a free pass.”
In the absence of conclusive evidence, perhaps the only logical thing to do is to assume the worst and avoid aspartame in diet sodas and in other products in which it is used (and that list is extensive). The last I heard, water is still aspartame-free.
You know, things were simpler when all we had to worry about was our kids’ chewing the lead based paint off the walls.