Soda (Part Deux): Diet vs. Regular

Izze Soda

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?

Your health

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?

The verdict

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. 

Low-Junk, High-Veggie Childhood Diet = Better Adult Health

Child wisely chooses a plum over an albeit healthy homemade donut, while wearing a DISC-related shirt

Seems obvious, no? A child who eats lots of fruit, veggies, brown rice, quinoa, and lentils is likely to be a healthy adult, right? Yes, it’s obvious. But the coolest thing that has just come out of the DISC Study (Dietary Intervention Study in Children) is that a mere moderate increase in high-fiber foods and moderate decrease in high-fat and high-saturated fat foods during childhood and adolescence appears to have a significantly positive impact on how soon and how fast age-related health changes happen in adulthood.

So, the occasional salad bar-eating kid is likely to have better blood pressure and blood sugar control well into adulthood compared to the kid who goes for fries and chicken cosmos every day. While kids seem more resilient to fatty foods, their health destiny is being planned.

Small changes, big results. For ways to get veggies and other fibrous grub into your kids, check here.

Meat and Dairy-Free Diet Reduces Risk of Chronic Diseases Considerably

Chili Cook-Off by Bitchin' Dietitian

Couldn’t have said it better myself. In a report issued to all military police in the UK, physicians explain how simply ditching dairy foods and meat could drastically reduce the most serious chronic diseases. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn who directs the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at the Cleveland Clinic explains that on plant-based diets, patients lose weight, blood pressure normalizes, and type 2 diabetes improves or resolves, as do angina, erectile dysfunction, and peripheral vascular and carotid disease.

“We are potentially on the cusp of what could be a seismic revolution in health. This will never come about from another pill, another procedure, another operation, or construction of another cardiac cathedral. It will come about when we are able to show the public the lifestyle that will halt and eliminate 75% of these common, chronic killing diseases. The most essential component of this lifestyle is whole food plant-based nutrition.” Read more and all about it here.

Start with a few veggie-only days per week and you’ll soon see… whole wheat pancakes for breakfast, veggie chili for lunch, and a bean and rice fajita burrito for dinner isn’t so hard or bad… in fact, it’s pretty divine.