Thursday, October 17, 2013

Myths I Used To Believe: Diet Coke is a Good Choice For Dieters

Just over ten months ago my husband and I made a decision to give up soda. Permanently. It was a New's Year resolution that actually stuck. I have tried to give up pop before and have successfully done so during my pregnancies but I always went back to my tried and true Diet Coke. I can honestly say that I have kicked the habit. Finally! I can count on one hand the number of times I've had a sip of Diet Coke in those months.

I believe my addiction started when I first started yo-yo dieting all the way back in high school. Wanting to shed calories, I believed that Diet Coke was the perfect drink for me. You know, a kick of caffeine without all the calories right? I became so dependent on it that I would go through two or more cans a day or even 20 oz bottles - especially when I worked at the bank. After I left my job to become a full time mom I tried to stop buying cases of pop and only treat myself occasionally. Only every time I went to the gas station or Sam's club, I couldn't resist getting one. People would tell me all the time, including my husband and my doctor, how bad it was for me. But I couldn't seem to stop and honestly, those people annoyed me. I mean, they didn't understand my need for a Diet Coke.

It turns out, drinking soda - especially diet soda, is not entirely our fault. OK, a lot of it is. But that nasty, liquid, sugary substance is designed to make you want more. For some people, giving it up is no small feat because of how addicted they have become. Personally, I think we should have PA meetings (pop addicts)!

So, if you are one of those people who find themselves addicted to soda pop please don't skip over this post because you think I'm one of those people with a lecture for you. I simply want to lay out the facts (even if just to remind myself) and help even one person out there debunk the myth they've bought into and steer clear of diet pop.

1) Diet Sodas actually create a greater risk of becoming overweight - A study at the University of Texas Health and Science Center found the drinking just two or more cans of diet soda a day can increase waistlines by 500%. What? But I thought a diet drink would help me eliminate calories. As it turns out, the body's natural ability to regulate calories is disrupted and confused by the artificial sweeteners. That means you are more prone to over eat if you are consuming diet soda as your body thinks it's eating sugar anyway and makes you crave even more. In addition, your brain thinks, "oh, I'm consuming less calories so I can eat more right?" The best example in my own life was either movie popcorn and Diet Coke, or chips and salsa and Diet Coke.

2) Poor Dental Health - probably a little more obvious. Diet soda has a pH of 3.2 which is very acidic. Just to give you an idea of how acidic it is, a battery's pH is 1 and water is 7. This acid dissolves enamel causing decay, missing teeth, and more fillings.

3) Can lead to Osteoporosis - There are a couple of factors here. First the phosphoric acid is thought to make your body excrete calcium quicker than normal which causes your bones to release calcium into your bloodstream to try and keep it normal. Another factor is cola itself. One study at Tufts University found that bone loss was more prevalent in the cola-flavored drinks as opposed to clear sodas such as Sprite and Mountain Dew. Another factor is the caffeine. Caffeine has long been known to effect the body's ability to absorb calcium.

4) Potential Kidney Damage - A 2009 Nurses study of women found HERE stated that women who drink two or more diet sodas a day can decrease their kidneys ability to filter blood by up to 30% leading to decreased kidney function and even contribute to kidney failure.

5) Can give you a bad hangover - I was blown away by this little known side effect. Turns out you can get drunker, faster when mixing diet coke with liquor because sugar free mixers allow the liquor to enter your bloodstream quicker.

Bottom line:  Kick the habit.  It's hard at first but so worth it in the end.  Your health is worth it.  YOU are worth it.

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How Soft Drinks Impact Your Health
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