Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Diet Coke Dilemma

I have one real addiction in life - Diet Coke.  But I guess in the grand scheme of things, that sure beats cigarettes, alcohol and drugs... However, the reality is that a lot of reports peg diet drinks as unhealthy due to the ingredients.  Sure they have zero in terms of calories, but plenty of other bad stuff to make up for it.  Kind of seems like everything (man made) that fits the description of low calorie, has a bunch of negative elements floating around in the background.

On a positive note, I will attribute Diet Coke as a key factor in my weight loss journey.  The day I switched from regular soft drinks to this particular brand, I saw a difference.  Of course, I was consuming huge amounts of regular soda on a daily basis at the time, thus it was only natural that I would see a few pounds disappear when going to a zero calorie version. 

So I have stuck with Diet Coke religiously (Coke Light when traveling in Europe) for many years, to the point that its just about the only thing I drink... and that is a bad thing. 

The first negative is the high level of sodium which is bad on several levels, but from a weight loss perspective, sodium can cause "water retention" which means some potentially unwanted pounds refusing to leave your body.  As per my primary care physician, getting rid of soft drinks altogether, even the diet ones, can result in several pounds of retained water being un-retained.

Beyond that there all kinds of "other" chemicals which may not be ideal for your body's needs.  Is it dangerous?  Most of what I have read (from sources like the Mayo Clinic) says that the dangers of developing cancer from diet soft drinks is overblown and that there probably is very little heath risk from the sweeteners used in production.  But that doesn't mean its healthy either.  A nice article by Marcelle Pick puts things into perspective quite well.  Though its geared to Women, her posting has a lot of great information that applies to guys as well, so give it a quick read if you too are addicted to diet soft drinks.

Ok, so I have decided its time to kick the Diet Coke habit!  I'm easily putting down six cans per day (or more).  My Doctor has suggested that every other time I have a craving for Diet Coke I reach for a glass of water instead... ICK!  I hate water.  I wanted to go with Gatorade, but she pointed out that it too has a high level of sodium and since a primary goal is reducing sodium, that switch really wouldn't solve anything... so back to the water thing.

Let me tell you something, every time I have tried to drop Diet Coke in the past, I have failed.  For me its harder to switch to water than it was to lose 70 pounds!  But I figure that if I can apply myself the same way, I can conquer this too.

So here goes... the beginning of my Diet Coke reduction plan... right here, right now... or maybe tomorrow would be better...

Wish me luck!

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