When I was in college, I shared a townhouse with four other women. As the only member of the house who didn’t drink Diet Coke, I began to make observations and continued to take mental notes on the matter over the next (uh hum) twenty years. What I noticed was that the women I lived with all drank Diet Coke, a lot of Diet Coke, and they were extremely protective and territorial over their Diet Coke. I watched them beg, plead, negotiate, and steal cans of Diet Coke from each other. I began to wonder if they were addicted.
After college, when I entered the workforce, I continued my observations. I noticed that there were certain people in the lab who always had a can of Diet Coke that they were nursing. They would drink at least 3 or 4 cans during the work day. Unless it was lunch time, it was almost certain that if someone was drinking a soda, it was a Diet Coke. At this point, I had observed enough “specimens” to conclude that this stuff was addictive. Not only did the Diet Coke drinkers consume significantly more soda than those who drank regular Coke (or any other brand), but they would get irate if someone disposed of their unattended can or if, God forbid, the vending machine was out of Diet Coke!
Over the years, I have read a lot about the artificial sweeteners that are added to diet soda and countless other products. I read about how if an artificial sweetener gets heated over a certain temperature, the chemical structure changes and formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) is created. I read about how diet soda being stored in tents in the desert is suspected of being linked to Gulf War Syndrome. I’ve also read about people who consume artificial sweeteners in lieu of natural sugars are more likely to gain weight. In fact, there are numerous accounts, and much scientific evidence to conclude that artificial sweeteners are simply unhealthy.
Some people will counter with comments like “Yeah, but to get those toxic effects, you need to drink huge volumes of diet soda.” I refer you to paragraphs 1 and 2.
My advice remains the same; avoid putting artificial anything into your body. Your body only has use for nutrients: water, protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Your body has no use for artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, or preservatives. In fact, I consider these to be “anti-nutrients” because not only does your body have to expend energy to dismantle, remove, or store them (yes, sometimes you actually store them because breaking them down is too hard). These ingredients are recognized by your body and an immune response is generated. When your immune system is being tied up with synthetic “food” products, it can’t do a very good job protecting you from actual invaders. It also doesn’t do a very good job recognizing harmless “invaders” like pollen or dander, and so allergic symptoms develop.
As I tell many of my coaching clients; before transitioning to a natural, holistic, lifestyle, my husband and I ate the Standard American Diet full of processed foods. We developed allergies by the age of 30 and got to the point where we were taking Claritin and Advil Cold & Sinus for breakfast every day. Within a year of transitioning to a healthy, whole-foods diet, our allergy symptoms, that we had suffered with for years, disappeared. I attribute this to our immune systems being in balance and no longer needing to deal with the barrage of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives that we used to ingest.
Your body is designed to be healthy and in balance. Allowing it to be this way is very simple and it starts with reading food labels and refusing to eat or drink anything artificial. For more information on reading food labels, check out my blog on the topic. For more information on the hazards of artificial sweeteners, check out http://products.mercola.com/sweet-deception/.
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I think it’s the caffeine that’s addictive. I was addicted for years to full octane Mountain Dew. Refined sugar is bad bad bad for us, but that stuff called artificial sweetener is really scary. And I know a couple of people who started to avoid it when they realized they were craving it. yuck. Good post.
I would have to agree with you. I went off Diet Coke when I was pregnant but started up again after I had my son. Last May I quit again because I noticed it made me feel bloated. I had a bit one month later and was nauseous and got a headache. I am off for good. I don’t drink coffee so that was my caffeine. I notice now that I still have loads of energy without caffeine and I feel better.
If you need a little caffeine, the healthiest way to get some is with green tea (avoid store brands loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and brew your own). Loaded with antioxidants and a touch of caffeine. Not too much to give you the jitters. Thanks for your comment!
I heartily agree with your observations on the addict-like behavior displayed by Diet Coke drinkers. It seems so odd to me that this behavior is ignored/glossed over. Makes me CRAZY! Thanks for telling it like it is.
Thanks for your comments Melissa. I’m glad you liked the article.
As a former diet coke addict, I know all too well the side effects. Having been a former sales manager for a Coca-Cola bottling company I pulled crazy long hours and had to be to work at a ridiculously early hour and was never ever “clocked out” since my pager could and did go off almost anytime, day or night seven days a week. I am embarrassed to say that I probably drank the equivalent of a 12 pack (or more) a day. I have been off soft drinks for 5 years plus but I am afraid my metabolism is permanently screwed up at this point. I work hard at trying to eat foods that have nutritional value and drink mostly water with an occasional glass of wine and still struggle with the scale. Getting off it was HELL! If I could turn back time……….