Monday, September 19, 2011

diet soda

I had an experience a number of years ago that has stuck with me.  I see it often - though to a lesser degree - day to day as I serve people.

A young man sat amidst a group of his peers, he was displaying a medic alert bracelet and sporting a high tech insulin pump - he was a portly lad, certainly over his preferred weight.  He politely ordered a diet coke and I promptly served it to him.  A few moments later while taking the table's order, he asked again, could he have another diet coke.  But of course.  I served it at my next available moment.  The next time I visited the table to see if anyone needed another beverage, he asked again.  Then about 10 minutes later, again.  This young man consumed 12, count them, twelve pints of diet coke over the course of an hour and a half meal.

At this point in my life I had not done research on this particular topic so I couldn't help but think that after so many 'diet' pops he probably was not reaping the benefits of reduced sugar.  I was both right and wrong.

I understand that some of us struggle with weight; obesity, after all, has become one of the leading preventable killers in North America.  I can appreciate the plight of someone trying to cut back on sugar consumption to better avail themselves to lose weight, for personal or health reasons - hence drinking diet soda.  But after a great deal of time making assumptions about diet cola I finally decided it's time I do a little research.

This is what I have discovered:

Now, I was under the impression that diet pop simply had less sugar than regular pop, this is not the case at all.  There are 0 calories in diet pop which is caused by the removal of all natural sugars which are replaced (in most cases) with aspartame.  At first glance one would think that this means it is a safe beverage for diabetics and for those who are trying to trim a few (or many) pounds.  This is not the case, in fact the more I read the more dangerous it seems - though not for the reasons I had originally thought.

The problem comes from the substitute sweetener.  Though it does indeed have far fewer calories than glucose it has an entire set of dangers unique unto itself.  Consuming diet pop causes something that is called “cephalic phase response,” which is basically your brain jumping the gun and telling your body that it needs to produce some insulin and right quick because there are calories on the way!  The sugar never shows up, no calories, no additional energy and the insulin is left waiting, hanging around hoping to be picked up by the dirty old men at Cadance.   This obviously causes major problems for someone with diabetes but also for someone trying to lose weight, it actually makes you want more food and more sugar and then slows down your ability to process fat.  (This info is easily found on the web, but here's an article from Men's Health about the subject.)

Anyways, before I try to get too technical, I just hope that parents reconsider the volume of diet pop their children consume because fat kids are more and more prevalent in restaurants in this city (and others) and poor unsuspecting dieters are being fattened on the diet coke dollar.

Save yourself the bloating, drink water!

Thank you for laughing at the picture, it was too funny to pass up...


  1. ...and four grams of sugar in one tbsp of ketchup...just sayin'

  2. There's no "s" at the end of "anyway"......
    A pet peeve of mine.
    One of 'em, anyway.