Diet Soda Bad News

About nineteen years ago I finally decided to deal with the empty calories being delivered into my body regularly in sixteen ounces doses. (Of course, back then I called it “pop” since I lived in the Midwest. But a drink by any other name would taste as sweet.)

It seemed like a good plan, but with one small problem: artificial sweeteners. If I’m allowed to quote a story about one man’s first experience with saccharine:

My first introduction to diet sodas happened a few years earlier, when I dropped a quarter into a vending machine, pressed the COKE button, and a pink can of something called TAB rolled out. I had no idea what it was (and it certainly wasn’t what I wanted) but it was a hot summer day, and I was thirsty. I popped the top, took a swig, and immediately spit it out. I couldn’t imagine what sort of people thought kerosene was a reasonable substitute for a cold beverage.

That was when I was a kid. By the time I was twenty-three, things hadn’t improved much. I still hated the taste. Of course, any right minded person would just give them up altogether, but no, I just had to drink this crap, so I kept at it and kept at it until eventually I liked it.

diet-coke-with-baconFast forward to last year when the news broke, “Hear ye, hear ye! Diet Sodas Make You Fat!” What?! What the bleep are you talking about? Diet sodas are good. Diet sodas broke my empty calorie habit. It took years and years of training to finally like them—then this? You’ve got to be kidding me.

Well, here’s what happened. Apparently they put a box full of rats on a diet of saccharin and another box of rats on a diet of Super Sugar Crisp, and wouldn’t you know it, the low-calorie rats gained weight. The sugar-laden rats died, but at least they weren’t fat.

So here we go, yet another flipping paradox delivered to us from on high, just to further muddy the already turbulent waters of the diet world. Thanks. The idea (and I’ve talked about this once or twice in other posts, but I’m too lazy to look them up) is that the body tastes “sweet” but doesn’t get the actual calories it expects to receive with that taste. So it decides to make up for it by forcing you back to the kitchen a half hour later for a bowl of sugary cereal. Ergo, it’s not the artificial sweeteners, per se, causing the weight gain, but subsequent behavior down the road based on the body not getting what it was promised.

Does that mean you should quit drinking diet sodas right now? Not exactly. First, this article does a pretty good job of explaining the rat thing. Second, like all studies, they’re just talking general odds. Your mileage may (and probably will) vary. Lastly, you know yourself best. Do you eat more because you drink sodas? If so, stop it. If not, don’t worry about it.

Me, I’ll keep on drinking them. Not because they’re good (or bad) for me, but because I like them and they make me happy.

9 Responses to “Diet Soda Bad News”

Inny said
October 2, 2008 at 5:13 am

I’m not a big soda drinker, but the study doesn’t sound that convincing to me. People often unintentionally manipulate the conclusions they get out of studies like this. Diet soda does not make me hungry, but to me it tastes nothing like the real stuff…

Rachael said
October 2, 2008 at 7:35 am

I drink around 2 diet sodas per day. I’ve given up soda before. It’s easier to do when you aren’t sitting at a desk all day. It’s more entertainment to me than anything else really. Oh, and the caffeine keeps me from falling asleep at my desk.

Megan said
October 2, 2008 at 7:48 am

I quit drinking diet sodas on a daily basis because of all of this, but like you, they make me happy and I allow myself to enjoy one every once in awhile.

Jennifer said
October 2, 2008 at 2:11 pm

I LOVE diet pop! Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet Coke, Diet 7-up!! I wish I could give it up. I have at least 1 if not 2 a day!

Erin said
October 2, 2008 at 5:35 pm

I’ve called it pop my whole life too, but I’m from Oregon. Weird!
No way in hell I’m giving up my Diet Coke.

Vicki said
October 2, 2008 at 8:19 pm

Mmmmmm, coke with bacon. Where can I find one of those?
I’ve been in Florida for 22 yrs. where people call it “soda”, but I still call it pop (I was raised in Ohio).
Anyway, I drink Diet Dr. Pepper, the 24 oz. bottles. One or two a day. It doesn’t make me eat more. Some days I do and some days I don’t. Depends how occupied I keep my brain.

runjess said
October 3, 2008 at 10:43 am

I’m glad you commented on my blog, because it led me to your website…which I love. I also love diet sodas. And I’m not fat yet, so take that scientists!

madison (follow my weigh) said
October 3, 2008 at 5:27 pm

i love diet coke, coke zero, (hate diet pepsi though). i choose them over the real stuff even when i’m in that mode of “who cares what i eat or put into my body right now.” it tastes good to me!

fit30 said
October 7, 2008 at 9:06 am

That picture of Diet Coke with Bacon cracks me up!!!!