Guest Post by Daniela Baker
If you’re addicted to drinking soda, you’re certainly not alone. Soda cans and bottles hold more than twice as much as they did in 1950, and that extra soda really adds up. With the average American drinking more than fifty gallons of soda, energy drinks, and fruity drinks a year, it’s no wonder we struggle to figure out which is the better choice.
Unfortunately, we all know that drinking soda–whether diet or regular–isn’t the greatest choice for our health. But sometimes you may feel like you need a Coke or a Pepsi to get you through the day. In times of weakness, which is the better choice: diet or regular?
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the a single can of regular soda can run you up about 150 calories, mostly from the high fructose corn syrup used to sweeten it. Drinking just one can like this a day could help you pack on fifteen pounds over the course of a year. FIFTEEN POUNDS! Regular soda consumption boosts rates of obesity and diabetes, and regular consumption of regular soda is often a risk factor for heart disease. In Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study, women who drank two or more servings a day of sweet drinks had about a 40% increase in their risk for heart disease related death and heart attacks.
So what about diet soda?
In the short term, the Harvard School of Public Health says that switching from regular to diet soda can help with weight loss, since diet soda doesn’t influence blood sugar levels or come with lots of added calories. However, studies have shown that consuming artificial sugars can actually cause you to consume more overall calories compared to diets that contain regular sugar and no artificial sweeteners. This is because our brains are meant to link sweet tastes and calories, and they’ll help our bodies automatically adjust intake for caloric needs. When the link between sweetness and calories is cut, though, it seems that the hormones and chemicals in the brain that tell us when to stop eating can go haywire. And don’t forget the recent study linking diet soda consumption to heart problems. Crud!
Okay, so neither regular soda nor diet soda is good for your health. But as an occasional treat, neither one of them is going to harm you too much, either. If you’re really concerned about making healthy choices, though, which one should you choose to have as a treat once in a while?
An occasional diet soda is OK, and if you absolutely have to choose between diet and regular (meaning you’re actually going to die without one or the other, and the only options around are in a vending machine), then diet is *probably* better (Harvard says diet is better on occasion, and on account of the obesity epidemic).
HOWEVER, try to avoid getting in the “diet or regular” situation. Keep a stockpile of Izze sodas (made from sparkling juice, containing no refined sugars, preservatives, caffeine, or artificial anything) and seltzer water on hand to satisfy your bubbly needs. Or, mix seltzer with fruit wedges or fruit juice for a refreshing and actually nutritious beverage. All of these healthy options can help you wean yourself off of regular soda, and don’t add up to too many extra calories in your day. Look into the SodaStream for seltzering water at home. Save bottles, $$, and impress your friends! It costs about $100 plus the $15 carbon dioxide cartridge every 60 to 130 liters.
Daniela Baker is a health- and fitness-conscious mother of two who is passionate about overthrowing the standard American diet by teaching others how to cook healthy, home-cooked meals and trade their couch potato lifestyles for more active ones. She loves spending time outdoors with her crazy canine and two very active kids, and works hard to set a good example for her family by making healthy food and lifestyle choices.