I used to drink regular soda. Loved me some Cherry Coke. I remember my father and I having a conversation back around 2001 about diet versus regular soda. My dad explained how switching to diet soda would result in a decrease in 250 calories a day (on average), which would result in a decrease of approximately 91,000 calories per year, which should translate into 26 pounds lost over the course of one year. Don’t quote me on that math, all from memory!

So I switched to diet soda. Took some getting used to, but over time I learned to love diet soda. Nothing better than an ice cold Diet Mountain Dew (fountain preferred) on a hot summer day.

Years went by, and I started to hear murmuring that diet soda wasn’t good for the body. “It can cause cancer”. Everything causes cancer these days. “Your body doesn’t know how to handle all the chemicals in diet soda”. Still not a good enough reason for me to stop drinking diet soda. I am stubborn, and sometimes need a lot of convincing.

Last January Mrs. Neal and I decided to drop soda (me diet, her regular) altogether and switch to coffee. Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla became our favorite, with two creams and two sugars to take the bitter away. We both still had a few sodas each week, but had mostly switched over to coffee. Lower calories, all natural, only one ingredient, high in antioxidants; lots of great health benefits as long as taken in moderation (two cups a day recommended). We have since switched to just straight black coffee sans cream and sugar. Doesn’t taste as great as it used to, but I choke it down just fine each morning.

I had my first diet cherry coke yesterday in around a month. Actually I had three diet cherry cokes in fifteen minutes. The family and I were at Perkins, and the waitress kept bringing me free refills. She seemed like she was on a mission. Every time my glass was half empty she would magically reappear with more diet cherry coke in hand.

Within an hour of leaving Perkins, I was complaining of massive headaches. “Maybe you are dehydrated” said Mrs. Neal. Negative on that, I had weighed on at The Shed that morning, and had been drinking nearly a gallon of water each day all week to help register a low weight (down almost 2 lbs this week!). “Maybe too much/not enough caffeine today” suggested Mrs. Neal? Nope, had my usual two cups of coffee today. Nothing different there.

The only thing different was that I consumed a decent amount of diet soda after not having any for a month. I jumped on the internet, and learned about the side affects of aspartame, the artificial sweetener found in diet coke. There is much controversy around the side effects of aspartame. Here some of the common side effects that have been reported after consumption of aspartame:

• Headache
• Dizziness
• Sudden, unexplainable mood swings
• Vomiting and Nausea
• Abdominal cramps
• Vision problems
• Diarrhea
• Memory loss
• Fatigue
• Rash or hives
• Sleep disturbances
• Changes in heart rate

There are also many websites on the internet that report a lot of aspartame side effects, but the above are the ones that have actually been identified by the FDA.

Mrs. Neal (who is a nurse) pointed out that there are actually many side affects to lots of things we use everyday, even aspirin. We both agreed that people take aspirin for a medical reason. There is zero benefit to having aspartame in my body.

I went through a period of time a few years ago where I was getting massive headaches at work each day. I visited a doctor many times, but we couldn’t find the cause of the headaches. Tried over-the-counter allergy medicine, large amounts of excedrin – nothing seemed to work. Now I look back and wonder if it was due to the large amount of diet mountain dew I was consuming at the time (aspartame is the artificial sweetener of choice in diet dew).

I am not sure if my recent headache or previous headaches were caused by aspartame. I DO know that I don’t think I will be drinking diet soda again anytime soon.

I have known Katie (co-owner of The Shed) for around two years. The biggest “take away” I have learned from her is to always be aware of what you are putting in your body.

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One Response to Diet Soda

  1. Katie says:

    It’s sounds like an “Aha!” moment you just had, Justin! I admit, I used to play the “ignorance is bliss” card back in the day. I didn’t WANT to know what was as the food I was eating or the beverages I was drinking, as if not knowing would protect me from the harmful things in them. When I started working in the health and fitness industry, I couldn’t play that card anymore. How was I supposed to teach others what was in their food, if I wasn’t aware of it myself? That’s when I discovered that knowledge is power and the more I learned, the more passionate I became about healthy eating. I love helping people cut chemically-laden foods out of their diets, not only because it reduces their risk of cancer, but because they immediately start to notice how much BETTER they feel (and it kinda makes me feel like a hero. LOL!) I’m glad you finally had a breakthrough on the soda front… now what can we tackle???? ~Katie

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