Does diet soda change how the body responds to real sugar?
The article suggests that while we tend to think of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as a healthy alternative to regular sodas and real sugar, these artificially sweetened diet products may actually contribute to an increased risk for excess weight gain, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The authors explain that the body may respond differently to diet drinks (artificially sweetened beverages) than it would to sugar sweetened drinks. So when the body is once again exposed to real sugar, it doesn’t respond as strongly as it should and this may affect metabolism.
Much more research is needed to understand whether diet sodas and artificial sweeteners contribute to an increased risk for excess weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. The fact is that artificial sweeteners still provide a sugar-free and calorie-free way to add sweetness to foods, which some diabetics may find useful.
So what does this mean for you?
Either way, the authors’ suggestion for how to apply this information to your own diet is the same as what I have been advising people to do:
Use caution with sweeteners, whether it’s real or “fake” sugar. This is where that “moderation”comes in.
Look, I grew up on soda. I love chocolate. And summer doesn’t seem the same without ice cream. But there are ways to eat less of these foods without feeling like you are missing out on anything:
Make it special. If you drink a lot of soda (regular or diet), think about the meals or times of day when you appreciate it the most. Dinnertime? At the movies? Before I gave up soda I needed to phase it out of my life. I got the most enjoyment out of having a soda with pizza so I started looking forward to that soda with my slice. And if what you really love is the bubbles, try sparkling water with or without a splash of citrus.
Mini-size it. Look for places that offer small sizes of your favorite snacks. I am loyal to ice cream shops that include 1 small single scoop as an option on the menu. Those small Halloween size candies are individually wrapped so you can have just a bite or too. I haven’t yet tried Skinny Cow Mini Fudge Pops but I hear they are insanely delicious and so small, 1 pop has only 50 calories and 1 gram of fat.
Get creative. Look for ingredients that have a natural sweetness to them without any added sugars or artificial sweeteners. I used to have a thing for chocolate milk and hot chocolate. I discovered a recipe for a smoothie that has changed my life. I adapted the recipe so that it makes one serving and doesn’t have any added sweeteners and I call it the “Peanut Butter Cup.” I will leave you with that:
Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie
½ banana, cut into pieces
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp ground peanuts (peanut butter with nothing added)
3-5 cubes ice
Blend to desired consistency & enjoy your sweetener-free treat!
For more information on artificial sweeteners: MedlinePlus: Sweeteners - artificial
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