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Not So Diet
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If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to lose weight through healthy dieting, there’s one item you may want to give up in order to reach your goal. And it even has the word “diet” in it: diet soda.

Many dieters are fooled by the fact that diet sodas carry no calories and no sugar. But don’t be fooled (like I was!). Diet sodas are known to actually increase your waistline.

Researchers at the Texas Health Science Institute followed 474 people, ages 65 to 70 years old, for nearly a decade. Every 3.6 years, those in the study had their height, weight, and waistline measured and recorded—as well as their diet soft drink intake. A significant change was seen in the waistline of those who drank diet soda. Their waistlines grew by 70 percent compared to those who did not drink diet soda!

“On average, for each diet soft drink our participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years, and 41 percent more likely to become obese,” said Sharon Fowler, who was a faculty associate in the division of clinical epidemiology in the Health Science Center's department of medicine at the time.1

Weight Gain

You may wonder as I have, “How does a drink with no calories cause weight gain?” Turns out that our brains can tell the difference between real and fake sugar, even if our taste buds can’t. Aspartame, the fake sugar in many diet sodas, can trigger hunger but not satisfy it, causing you to eat more. Diet soda can also cause your body to produce insulin, which blocks your ability to burn fat.

According to Dr. Martin P. Paulus, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego, “Your senses tell you there’s something sweet that you’re tasting, but your brain tells you, ‘actually, it’s not as much of a reward as I expected.’” So you add more calories to your diet soda.

In addition to diet soda helping you to pack on the pounds, it is now being linked to an increase in diabetes, heart attacks, and stroke. It’s just not worth the risk, though many love the taste.

So what should you drink when you’re trying to lose weight healthfully? Water! It’s as handy as your faucet, it’s free, and it will benefit more than your waistline. Drinking water will flush out your kidneys, hydrate you skin and organs, and help keep your brain from being sluggish.

Before the holidays last year, I gave up my diet soda. I missed it for a few days, but then I began to actually crave water instead. It made me feel better, I had more energy, and my skin and eyes looked healthier. So I’ve made the switch—and I’m not going back.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

1 http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/diet-soda-may-be-making-you-fat-2504019.html

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