Although regular soda is shamed for its high sugar and calorie content, reaching for a diet soda instead is not actually harmless either. In fact, individuals who consistently drink diet soda can still suffer from weight gain and obesity while increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Current research by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests diet soda drinkers consume more calories from discretionary foods (foods low in nutritional quality and high in sugar, fat, and salt) than those who drink regular soda. But why is that? One explanation the calories lacking in diet soda are compensated and underestimated by energy dense foods. The thought is, "Since I did not drink calories from a soda, I can eat a brownie instead." Realistically, the brownie probably has just as much if not more calories than a regular soda as well as introduced fat. Ditch a diet soda addiction once and for all with these four simple steps.
4 Easy Steps to Overcome a Diet Soda Addiction
1. Take baby steps. Ever bitten off more than you can chew then overcome with feelings of doubt and failure? Who wasn't? A clean cut from diet soda, although impressive, is not necessarily required. Small changes ultimately lead to bigger changes and well, a change is a change. If four diet sodas have spots in the daily diet, try excluding one. After about a week with three sodas per day, cut out another one and repeat until completely eliminated. The gradual reduction will create a more effortless transition to a diet soda-free life.
2. Ditch artificial, go natural. Diet soda, or regular soda for that matter, is sought out for its caffeinated effects. A diet soda can help power through a groggy morning or an afternoon slump. However, black coffee and herbal teas also contain caffeine without many, or if any, artificial additives. When replacing a diet soda with another caffeinated beverage, remember to check the nutrition label or not add heaps of sugar as some coffees and teas are filled with syrups and creams.
3. Drink more water. Oftentimes, people think they are getting "a bang for their buck" when upgrading a medium soft drink to a large or jumbo size. In reality, the biggest bang for the buck is drinking free water. In general, America is privileged to have a huge, clean supply of water. Instead of being sucked into the "$.99 jumbo soft drink" at the local convenience store, resort to a large, free cup of water. Water also provides so many health benefits to the body, benefits diet soda cannot provide.
4. Stress outlets. Food and drinks, diet soda included, can provide comfort. For some, diet sodas fill the void after stressful days dealing with school, family, work, and other day-to-day taxing contributors. Instead of stopping at the gas station for a diet soda, make a pit-stop at the gym. Even a 20-minute walk has the potential to provide the "feel good" mood exercise offers. Other beneficial stress-reduction techniques include listening to favorite music, relaxing in a warm bath, and practicing meditation.
AR. Beverage Consumption in Relation to Discretionary Food Intake and Diet Quality among US Adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(1), 28-37.