The entire US diet is being controlled lately, it seems, by the needs of diabetics.
I’m speaking, of course, about the vast proliferation of artificial sweeteners into nearly every major food product on US shelves … whether it’s labeled “diet” or not. This is all well and good for diabetics, but few people stop to consider this: there are people with dietary needs that are different than those of diabetics!
For example, my wife has a severe allergy to artificial sweeteners of any kind. You name it, it’s a risk of anaphylaxis for her. Saccharin. Aspertame (NutraSweet). Sucralose (Splenda). Sorbitol. Xylitol. Stevia. They’re all things that cause her to get sick, quickly. I’ve done hospital runs.
The trouble is that it’s in everything these days. Even products with sugar in them, or high fructose corn syrup, contains loads of artificial sweeteners as well, and most of those products are not marked as “diet” nor do they even feature any labeling warning the product contains artificial sweeteners.
Chewing gum and bubble gum, for example, are lost causes. There’s virtually no gum that isn’t “sugar-free” anymore. You call that consumer choice?
The same goes for pop. While all diet pop has artificial sweeteners in it these days, many regular sodas that contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup also contain healthy doses of aspertame, sucralose, sorbitol or xylitol. Some even contain two more more of these, all without being labeled diet. You must read the fine-print ingredients to even know!
Now, for the average consumer with no food issues, this may seem like a small thing. But when a teaspoon of cough syrup sweetened with aspertame can send your wife to the ER, believe me, you start to take it a bit more seriously.
And if you think this is a mere “pop and candy” issue, it’s not. You have to check everything from yogurt to fruit juice to cocoa to Kool-Aid to donuts and other pastries and, well, anything that’s sweet. Even some canned vegetables are stored in juices containing artificial sweeteners these days. Not always, but often enough that you have to read the fine-print ingredients to avoid a nasty surprise trip to the doctor.
Beware of packaging phrases like, “Now with a third fewer calories” and similar phrases.
And over-the-counter medicine? Forget it. Just about anything and everything from aspirin to allergy tablets are coated these days, usually with a mixture of gelatin and artificial sweeteners. I mean, can’t a person swallow a simple Advil without having to have it taste sweet going down? I’m not that old yet, but when I was growing up, medicine had no taste. Sometimes it was even chalky. But it’s medicine! It’s not supposed to taste good; it’s just supposed to work.
Yet during cold and flu season, just try to find a tablet or gelcap or syrup that doesn’t list aspertame or sucralose as a main inactive ingredient. It’s nearly impossible!
Look, if all this stuff makes the lives of diabetics a little bit easier, mazel tov! Wonderful! But what ever happened to consumer choice? One needs a DLP projector to look back to a time when all this artificial sweetener stuff was hard to come by. Diabetics argued for consumer choice then.
Now, their needs control the food industry almost completely. Only a few rare products offer safe sugar products with no artificial crap in it. Gotta love Heritage Dr. Pepper, for example! Or Sierra Mist Natural. These rare exceptions help, but it only fixes the soda problem.
What ever happened to cane sugar, sugar beet sugar and “pressed cane juice,” hmm? Or the most natural sweetener of all, honey?
And for the love of the LORD, why coat medicine with any sweetener at all, artificial or otherwise? It’s medicine. Buck up and take it, America! You don’t need everything to taste sweet going down.