Tuesday, March 06, 2012
This is a tough one, isn't it? Learning to make your main beverage (or your only beverage) water. Seems we all get hooked on diet soda at some point. I'm even going to venture a guess that a majority of the people I know struggling to lose weight are diet-soda-aholics. And since there is no 12-step program for this addiction, I thought it might be handy to share how I managed to kick my own heavy diet soda habit.
I think most of us begin drinking diet soda because it has a sweet taste and no calories. We like sweet. And we figure without calories it can't derail our weight loss efforts. No harm in a diet soda once a day, is there? Then we start drinking two. At home. And then make it our regular beverage when we drink out. And then we have it "only after noon" EVERY SINGLE DAY! And next thing you know, breakfast is over and your seeking out that sweet fizzy taste fix that only a diet soda would give you.
Of course, you wouldn't dream of drinking a regular soda with sugar in it because that.... THAT would make you fat. But this diet stuff? "Hey", you reason "It's got water in it and my body needs water. And it's not giving me any calories, and my body certainly doesn't need any of THOSE! And lookie here- It doesn't have sodium, or caffeine, either! I'm doing something good for my body by making this diet soda choice!". Yeppers- I've been there too, and said all of these things to myself, and more. (My favorite line I told myself when ordering a bacon cheeseburger and fries with a diet soda was "If they made a diet burger and fries, I'd order those, too." I was the champion of excuses!)
Then a little lightbulb went off; "If there is no sugar, little sodium, and often no caffeine in diet soda, what IS in there? There has to be something, or else it would be.... well...... water." And the answer to that question? In a word- Chemicals. What good were chemicals going to do me? Because here I was, being careful with my diet (I was drinking diet soda even after I'd made significant progress in my weight loss), and still bathing my insides with chemicals via diet soda. Not exactly the healthiest thing I could do for a body I was trying to make healthier by every other means.
Sadly, it was time to start the very painful process of breaking up with Mr. Fizzy.
The first thing I did was move from diet soda to those fizzy flavored waters they sell. (The peach was my favorite!) This went on for probably a year or more. Then I started reading that carbonation (which makes the fizz) can cause calcium to leach from the bones, which in turn causes the bones to be weaker and more prone to breakage as I age.
Since being 80 and incapacitated with a broken hip didn't sound appealing to me, I ditched the carbonation and went with the flavored waters, no fizz. These stood in for a while. But then I started taking a look at the artificial sweeteners and some of the purported side effects from them (my aunt, who has Parkinsons disease, often wonders if her copious drinking of diet sodas didn't help her condition along), and figured it wasn't worth the risk to have those coursing through my body all the time,either.
So then I started drinking iced tea with artificial sweetener in it, but watered it down. A lot.
Eventually I managed to get it so watered down that the tea wasn't really tea anymore- it was just dirty water. At that point I let go entirely and went to strait water.
This doesn't mean I don't ever have a diet soda anymore, because I do. On occasion I'll have one as a treat, usually when I go to the movies with my family, who are all munching on candy. It gives my mouth something do to, and I don't feel completely left out. (Please don't ask me how I can feel left out when we are all starting strait ahead at a screen in the dark- This concept alludes me to this day. But the fact is that it happens.)
And when I go to restaurants I will often get a glass of unsweetened tea and sweeten it with Stevia packets I carry in a baggie in my purse. Stevia is the ground leaf of the Stevia plant, which is sweet. Much preferable to saccharine, sucralose, or any other artificial sweeteners, since Stevia is ground directly from a plant. Depending on the brand you buy (I use Stevia In The Raw), it can taste a tad bitter, but I can't stand unsweetened tea, so Stevia it is. And yes, I have turned into a baggie-carrying, chemicaly-paranoid fanatic.
Paying homage to my "if they made diet burgers" excuse (above), I'm using the "If I could hand them organic chicken to make my salad I would" excuse for the sweetener.
Anyhow, that's my story of how I kicked diet soda and my reasons why. Maybe you are inspired. Maybe you are (I hope) thinking of artificial chemicals in a different way. And maybe you are rolling your eyes. But regardless, I hope you tell me what you think!