I’ve heard that caffeine interferes with the keto diet. Is this true? AB, Seattle, WA
Answer: Yes, for some people, caffeine reduces the production of ketone bodies – but drinking regular coffee does not necessarily interfere with losing weight. The big issue is, ‘can you enjoy life if you eliminate or restrict coffee?’ For many, coffee replaces dessert or snacks, and is an important element in their routine. So drink up! If decaf does the trick, so much the better. The problem with coffee, of course, is added cream and sugar!

What is your position on artificial sweeteners? CH, Newton, MA
Answer: The healthy ideal is to reduce your taste for sweetness, whether from natural or artificial sources. Research suggests that artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and sugar alcohols like xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol, and mannitol) actually increase appetite and cravings.

I strongly suggest that you try to wean yourself off artificial sweeteners and particularly sweeteners in the form of diet soda.

A lot of diet books suggest buying organic produce. I’m not made of money. Is organic really necessary? MG, Charleston, SC
Answer: No. Some fruits and vegetables – the so-called “dirty dozen” (see https://cspinet.org/tip/going-organic-whats-payoff) – have been found to contain more pesticide residues, and it would be ideal to buy organic versions of these. However, washing produce in a solution of baking soda and warm water removes pesticides effectively. Some organic produce is grown in more biologically rich soils, and contains more nutrients and phytochemicals, but I wouldn’t worry about this. Try growing a window box with parsley and some microgreens for your own “organic” produce.