Big and bad news this week for all those diet soda lovers out there. Daily diet soda consumption may lead to vascular events like stroke. Not good! To dieters everywhere diet soda was the panacea – it was going to save us, help us lose weight while still giving us sweet carbonation! I say us because I too was a diet soda drinker at one time. Till it started making me sick and I quit – feel much better now, thanks! I will still occasionally opt for a diet soda over water, but I can count on one hand how many times that happens in one year. So, this study isn’t for folks like me and others who don’t indulge in diet soda daily – it’s for the other millions and millions of people out there who do drink diet soda every day. The study didn’t tell us why diet soda leads to a 61% greater risk of stroke, but it did and the science is sound. The researchers even accounted for caloric intake, age, smoking, and alcohol consumption, all of which can also lead to stroke and diet soda still increased the risk. Unfortunately, we don’t know what it is about the diet soda that is making us sick, but do we really need to to know that we have to cut back?
Besides this newly revealed stroke risk with diet soda there are other problems with diet soda. Such as, the propensity for overly sweet foods and drinks that diet soda and other diet beverages perpetuate. Since diet drinks are so much sweeter than water, milk and even their regular sugared versions Americans are becoming accustomed to the super-sweetness and, like a drug, after a while a one diet drink doesn’t cut it anymore and we’re out searching for more and more sweet things. Then foods that we once thought were sweet, like fruit, is no longer sweet enough so we end up giving that up too and switching to fruit snacks instead of real fruit as a snack. This is happening to your children too – especially since your kids have a built-in sweet tooth. Children are born for a preference for sweet, so giving sweet drinks, snacks and cereals just increases this preference until naturally sweet foods are no longer sweet enough.
But what goes up must (and can) go down. As someone who used to enjoy artificially sweetened beverages with some frequency I too had to wean myself off of these saccharin sweet drinks. Slowly but surely, bit by bit, the diet drinks, Crystal Light and flavored waters disappeared from my shopping cart and from my diet. Now, as I said, I do have the occasional diet drink and more often than not, when I do, I can taste the fake sugar, that saccharin sweetness and it becomes too much for me and I need a chaser of plain old H2O.