The Engineer and I have different views regarding artificial sweeteners. He believes that anything that causes his calorie intake to drop is good. He especially likes diet sodas, because he doesn’t want to waste calories on drinks – he’d rather have his calories come from good food. While I agree with this in principle, I believe that artificial sweeteners are not healthy and I’d rather have naturally sweetened drinks, even if it means drinking less. But the scientific community is still split as to how safe different sweeteners are, so I have no definitive answer on that.
It’s become apparent, though, that artificial sweeteners are linked to weight gain. They can prevent individuals from feeling satiated and cause them to eat more calories in total. That article is very interesting and clearly written. (Another interesting article describes how the body regulates food intake based on the combination of fat, sugar and salt in your food.) I’ve heard there are sodas made with sugar derived from the stevia plant; I’ve even seen sugar from the stevia plant sold under the brand name Truvia in the States (I haven’t seen it yet in Canada, but then again, my grocery store is notorious for carrying nothing).
Then again, in the case of sodas in particular, I’m now torn as to whether I should drink any at all. Major soda companies (Coke and Pepsi, as well as their various sub-products) are notoriously disrespectful of the environment; they have gone so far as to deprive entire villages of drinkable water (as well as dumping toxic chemicals all over the place). Le Monde had an article on the subject, and I recommend this video, in French, on the subject. I haven’t given up soda altogether, but I’d love to know of brands that are more ecologically and socially responsible.
However, avoiding artificial sweeteners altogether is near impossible, since they are even in the tap water we drink, the same way that water now contains leftover antibiotics and hormones that aren’t filtered out at water treatment plants. So in many ways, even when we cook our meals from scratch, we don’t always know what we are ingesting (do you know what that cow ate before it became your hamburger?).
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comments. Do you buy meat from trusted sources (like beef straight from the farm, or organic pork or poultry)? Have you found another preferred drink besides soda? Do you try to avoid artificial foods in general?