Somehow, I have a feeling this post will strike an unpleasant chord with many readers, as I know people who take their diet soda very seriously. I am not one who has ever been a soda addict, caffeine addict or sugar addict (at least not in drink form). Ideally, I would try to stick to water, but I find myself drinking ice tea or low-fat chocolate milk (post-workout) and even the occasional coffee. I try to stay as far away from soda as I possibly can for countless reasons. Mainly, I don’t get any satisfaction from drinking the bubbly, sugary drink with artificial colors and flavors. If anything I feel more sluggish and my stomach is upset from the carbonation. I end up more thirsty than I was before indulging in the beverage and since my stomach is filled with so much air, eventually I’m back to being hungry too.
The main complaint I have with diet soda is their claim that it makes you think it is somehow “healthy” because the word “diet” comes before it. The fact is diet soda still has artificial sweeteners which, although haven’t been proven to be harmful, are still best avoided. Just because the FDA hasn’t stepped in doesn’t mean the product is a good one! Saccharine was banned in Canada and other countries because lab tests with animals found that it was linked to bladder cancer; the FDA has chosen to remove warning labels due to inconclusive evidence as to the effect it has on humans. Aspartame is a high profile, artificial sweetener that is highly controversial. Aspartame was discovered as a sweetener while researching anti-ulcer drugs. The scientist spilled some on his hands and realized it had a sweet flavor, so now it’s in many diet drinks, water packets and other sugar-free items. There are many, many names for aspartame and claims have been made that it contributes to anything from cancer to psychiatric problems in humans. The jury is still out on this one as well, but in my opinion it isn’t worth the risk.
Another point to be made is studies have found that people who drink diet soda are not healthier in any way. Reducing the food energy intake of sugar in soda doesn’t imply that person will have a lower food intake overall or lead to weight loss. An independent study also found that 48% of the 9,000 people in their test group were at higher risk for weight gain and elevated blood sugar levels. The diet soda merely increased the person’s desire for sweet foods.
Overall, I think it is best to avoid soda in general. If you have to have it every once in a while that’s fine and dandy, but don’t justify your indulgence by telling yourself it is “healthy” and do your best to try and limit your intake as much as possible.
Best idea for soda drinkers? Create your own soda! Combine sparkling water (not club soda-too much sodium) and your favorite 100% fruit juice. This is a great way to wean you off of the artificial crap and still get a taste of the bubbly stuff. Sparkling water is hydrating and the NYTimes reported it can help keep calcium in your bones.
For a drink like this, pour glass half full with 100% juice of your choice and half full of sparkling water.
To make things more fun or fancy, try using frozen berries or fruit instead of ice cubes!!