- Diet drinks are everywhere so I didn’t ask “Is diet pop bad?”
- What stopped me drinking diet soda
- Should I focus on a drink’s calorie count or what it does inside my body?
Find out why diet soda makes you eat more, store fat and burn fewer calories.
When I understood why YES answers the question: “Is diet pop bad?” it was a lot easier to quit drinking diet pop.
When I was a kid I started a Nothing Book at camp. The idea was you could write anything in it. I filled the pages with quotes, sayings, stories and poems that share basic truths.
Ever hear the expression “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well it’s true for zero calorie drinks too (and other diet products).
I drank diet pop for 10 years. Trying to give it up got preoccupying. Along with the nutritious benefits I missed out on (had I been drinking a healthy alternative) I wasted other opportunities. I could have spent my time, energy and resources on other pursuits; ones that are much more interesting. I wanted to write this post because quitting got a lot easier when I finally understood why YES is the answer to “Is diet pop bad?”
Is diet pop bad?
I didn’t ask myself “Is diet pop bad?” for ages. Artificially sweetened drinks are stocked in stores around the world. To 14-year-old me this suggested diet drinks were good. Or better than good! I believed no sugar and zero calories meant I was making a healthy choice. And I wasn’t alone.
I still see all sorts of educated people, including professionals in the medical field, drinking diet pop.
When I started asking myself “Is diet pop bad?” the amount I drank escalated. Looking back I see it was due to my strategy.
Instead of focusing on improvement, and drinking a little less each week, I’d tell myself:
Today is the last day you’ll drink diet pop. Drink as much as you like.
Even when I didn’t want anymore diet pop, I’d keep drinking it. I thought, the more I drink today, the more dramatic it will be when I stop drinking diet soda tomorrow.
I was all or nothing about everything.
By the time I was in university I was drinking a case (24 units) of diet cola a day. When I could no longer afford individual cans, I started buying 2 litre bottles and swig it straight from the source. I became a regular at my corner store and knew the staff on every shift (and every washroom across campus). Soon I had a running tab to track the diet drinks I couldn’t cover. I never bought zero calorie cola in bulk. I was always convinced “today” was the last day.
I didn’t recognize that upping-the-anti to draw a line in the sand, was actually ingraining a bad habit. Or that this black-and-white approach was a sign of an underlying issue. At that point I didn’t know I had OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). But there was another reason why it was difficult for me to quit drinking zero calorie drinks.
Despite having some idea that YES was the answer to: “Is diet pop bad?” I didn’t understand why it was unhealthy.
I just knew all the chemicals listed on the can (that I couldn’t pronounce) were not natural. It got me wondering what these black bubbles did once they entered my body. Additionally, the sheer quantity of diet pop I drank worried me. Even sunshine burns if you get too much. But I still couldn’t answer the question: “Why is diet pop bad?”
Why is diet pop bad?
Natural food takes time to break down. They haven’t been processed in a factory, so your body does all the work. For this reason, the energy from natural food slowly enters your blood stream which keeps you full longer. Then you eat less. And natural food is packed with vitamins and nutrients that meet your body’s basic needs. Natural food makes you feel satisfied. Respecting your body’s needs helps you reach and maintain a healthy weight.
When you eat unnatural (processed) food and drinks that are high in sugar, like pop, the sugar is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream. Sometimes people refer to this experience as a “sugar high”. When your body receives so much energy at once, it can’t use it. So a chain of events is triggered in your body that make you store energy quickly as fat. Sometimes people refer to this experience as a “sugar crash.” Suddenly you have low energy.
The quick rise and fall of your blood sugar makes you hungry and crave more sugary food and drinks. In fact, sugar is more addictive than cocaine. When you keep eating sugary and/or unnatural food and drinks, your body continues to store energy as fat. And you continue to gain weight.
You get caught in a self-defeating cycle.
Artificially sweetened food and drinks are 100’s to 1000’s of times sweeter than regular sugar (and just as addictive). Research has found that these unnatural chemicals confuse your body. When artificially sweetened food and drinks enter your body, they:
• activate your fat storage hormone (insulin)
• slow down your metabolism
• make you hungry and crave sweet things
In other words, they make you store fat, burn fewer calories and eat more. The result? Weight gain.
Artificially sweetened food and drinks trick your body and mind.
Additionally, this study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that diet drinks increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes more than sugar-sweetened drinks.
Another reason diet drinks can lead to weight gain is because people think they save calories by having a diet soda. So they have something extra to eat. I was a waitress for many summers in a town that has visitors from all over the world. Every day I heard people use the zero-calorie-drink rationale to justify ordering dessert.
When I wanted to lose weight I was so desperate to look healthy. I forgot that looking healthy is different from being healthy. Another powerful incentive to stop drinking diet pop is to remember that each time you reach for a zero calorie drink or artificially sweetened food, you’re doing all the negative things I’ve written about above and you’re missing out on drinking or eating something that can improve your health. You’re missing out on consuming something that can nourish your body, like build stronger bones, and make you feel great.
- Diet soda has no nutritional value
- Just one diet drink a day can increase your risk of a heart attack, stroke or vascular death
- Artificial sweeteners are linked to headaches
- Citric acid (found in diet pop) weakens and destroys tooth enamel over time
- Mixing diet soda with alcohol can make drinking alcohol more dangerous because you get intoxicated faster than when you drink alcohol with regular soda (artificial sweetener is absorbed into your bloodstream faster than regular sugar)
- There’s a correlation between diet drinks and depression (more so than regular soda)
- Female soda drinkers (diet and regular) were found to have lower bone-mineral density
- Diet pop won’t quench your thirst because it dehydrates rather than hydrates your body
You can read more about the studies on diet pop that support the above information here.
What can the answer to “Is diet pop bad?” teach us?
As I explained in this post, it’s more important to choose food and drinks based on what they do inside your body, than base decisions on the calorie count listed on it’s container. I mean, who cares if diet pop has zero calories if this chemical cocktail is going to trigger hunger, fat storage and your metabolism to sloooooooow down?
There is no free ride. Diet drinks are not good substitutes for sugar-sweetened drinks. They increase cravings, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes. And they are addictive.
– Mark Hyman, Doctor
Artificially sweetened food and drinks wreak havoc once they enter your body. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are fat-inducing products disguised as healthy alternatives. Stay away from diet food and drinks!
Check out the ingredients in your:
- chewing gum
- coffee sweetener
- condiments like salad dressing
…and even conventional toothpaste. And things that don’t start with the letter “c”.
Now I drink soda water (club soda) when I feel like drinking something bubbly. I also keep a glass bottle (instead of plastic) in my backpack or purse filled with tap water. Help yourself and the environment.
So, what can the answer to “Is diet pop bad?” teach us?
Eat food made of natural ingredients. Go back to the basics. If it’s not natural, it’s probably not the best option. And you can apply this truth to choices in other areas of your life.
Build healthy eating and exercise habits. A healthy weight will follow.
Move away from diet drinks toward better options. You deserve it! And your body will thank you. But how do you get there from where you are now, whether you’re knocking back a case of diet soda a day like I was or consuming the average: 3 diet pops per day. Sign up for my weekly blog post (below) and you’ll receive one of the best strategies I learned. It will help you cut diet pop out of your life—or reach any goal.
The final monologue from The Big Kahuna Movie
All these words of wisdom would be great in my Nothing Book, including:
Enjoy your body.
Use it every way you can.
Don’t be afraid of it
or what people think of it.
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.
Here’s an excellent article by an amazing doctor who answers: “Is diet pop bad?” with a firm yes.
Here’s a clear summary that answers: “Is diet pop bad?”:
(click on the image to read)
Sharing what I learned makes those 10 years worth it
What do you drink instead of diet pop?