I was pleasantly surprised last weekend when I tried powder-like crystals of PureVia stevia on my breakfast cereal. I expected an unpleasant aftertaste (or at least a taste differential), but there was none.
The cost was higher than for sugar, but on my big 'diet for summer' shopping trip, it seemed worthwhile.
After seeing a friend looking wonderfully slim and toned recently, who proclaimed that it was 'all down to the Dukan diet', I am currently following it.
I'm just a few days in. Although it's unusually meat-based in the early stages, it does seem to be working – I'm certainly not hungry and my clothes are a fraction looser, perhaps due to the filling effect of the small amount of bran consumed each day and the extra exercise.
What did interest me was Pierre Dukan's view of zero-calorie drinks. On the Dukan diet website, he says: "There is a debate going on about how good fizzy drinks are nutritionally. My position is quite clear: as far as I am concerned, Diet Coke has done more in the fight against excess weight than all government health campaigns put together.
"I am convinced that without Diet Coke, there would be at least another million obese people in the US. So then, let's stop simpering! One of my male patients lost almost 16 stone while drinking Diet Coke as a treat. The world in which we live has changed and we have to adapt to it. Ideally, we would drink 1-3 cans per day. Nowadays, the different brands try to outdo each other to produce ever more imaginative choices. Just look at the various fruit flavours and lemonade-style drinks available from all the major brands – Sprite, Schweppes, 7UP, Dr Pepper – and the supermarket own brands etc, which means we don't have to just stick with the Coca-Cola taste.
"Do be very careful though, 'diet' means only 1 calorie per glass. Don't get confused with low calorie drinks which simply contain less sugar; they're not allowed."
I am certainly drinking more water and am pleased that, from today, I can include vegetables. That asparagus now seems such a treat.
And of course, more zero-calorie drinks, ranging from tonic water to Coke and ginger beer, and fruit teas and coffee (skimmed milk, of course). There's a little way to go, but I hope that I'll look OK in those white jeans yet!
Thanks to all the new product development guys out there who are guaranteeing good taste with desirable results.
Claire Phoenix is managing editor of Beverage Innovation magazine.
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