Skip to content

Take The Plunge

June 10, 2016

Diet soda. I don’t get it.

It’s not that I don’t get diets. I’m on one. And despite the fact that I have more splurge days than I intend, it’s going remarkably well. I still drink about a beer a day, and not the crappy light stuff either. I’m drinking more calorie dense double IPAs than I care to admit, but I’m finally growing a bit weary of the modern, tropical fruit style. I haven’t even started the exercise part of my program, and I’m still shedding pounds.

Part of it has to be genetics. I can’t take full credit for what’s going on here. But the other part is that when I’m not eating something special, I’m eating purely for sustenance. That means super small portions of whole foods, whole grains, nuts, low-fat fermented dairy, and as many vegetables as I can get.

I’d like to say that I’m not depriving myself. But I miss ice cream, slathering big pats of butter on rich challah, and eating all the fatty bits of meat wherever I might find them. I’m actively pushing things out of my mind, like Swifty’s deep fried buffalo burger. Actually, I’m avoiding Delmar entirely. All said, though, I’m feeling pretty good about the whole thing.

Some people try to improve their diet by looking for replacement products for the highly caloric ones they currently enjoy. In some way I do that. I’m opting for skinless chicken breast instead of the succulent leg-thigh with all of its crispy, fatty, and salty skin.

But these days diet soda has gone beyond that. It’s a thing in and of itself. And it should stop.

The only reason I’m thinking about this is because I happened to stumble onto SchenectaDana’s tweet yesterday that alerted me to a Diet Pepsi overhaul that’s upsetting the longtime drinkers of the beverage.

It seemed to me like a perfect time to encourage people to walk away from not just Diet Pepsi, but from the category entirely.

True confession time. I went through a Diet Coke phase when I was in college. What can I say. I’ll blame it on experimentation. Sure, at first the flavor was vile. But then it turned into something almost craveable. And in the end, there wasn’t anything that could quite replace the role it played.

It was caffeinated without being hot or bitter like black coffee. It was sweet—but not so sweet—and devoid of calories, unlike its full-sugar counterparts. It was fizzy and refreshing. And it was pretty much always available. I think back then two liter bottles were about a buck on sale.

So I get it. Walking away can be hard.

But do you know why it’s so hard? Because you are absolutely addicted to the stuff. I mean, literally, addicted. It doesn’t matter who is to blame. Maybe it’s the soda manufacturers. Maybe it’s the chemical companies. Maybe it’s even the grocers. Everyone is getting richer on the tails of your bad habit.

Here’s my foodie gripe. Forget the potential health implications of artificial or even natural non-caloric sweeteners. Let’s ignore the effects of sugar on the body. Because whether you are drinking diet soda or sugary soda, you are most likely guzzling down sweets like it’s water.

I know that sugar has an effect on the brain. You give a baby a drop on its tongue and it smiles.

There’s a biological factor we’re fighting here. But you don’t need to have sweets all the time. And I’m convinced that all of these sweetened beverages are going to have an effect on the way you experience everything else that goes in your mouth.

Switching to water is too drastic a first step. I’m a big fan of seltzer with a splash of juice as a slightly sweet refresher. Ideally, that juice could be a squeeze of fresh citrus, because store-bought juices aren’t much better than soda. It’s true.

Unsweetened iced tea is also super good and super easy. Four tea bags in thirty-two ounces of cold tap water. Let them sit in a jar in the refrigerator for five hours. Set a timer, because oversteeped tea is decidedly less delicious. Pull the tea bags and you’re done. Although I usually like to wait a day for some of the cloudiness to settle out of the tea for a cleaner tasting cup.

But when you are thirsty, truly thirsty, there really is no substitute for water.

I’m not making the case that soda is evil. I’m not telling you that diet soda will shorten your life, kill your gut bacteria, or make you fat. The last thing I want is for anyone to deprive themselves of pleasure. But what I’ve found is that people take little pleasure in things once they are hooked. And something that was once a joy can quickly become mundane.

So switch it up. Step away from the daily sweetened beverages. Because the less you drink them, the more you’ll appreciate the sweetness in other foods, and you’ll find greater pleasures in the culinary world all around you.

Is it hard? Sure, at first. But I’ve been there. And it’s totally worth it.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2016 10:51 am

    While we are on the subject of healthy eating, have you tried the new house brand ice creams at Price Chopper? Man those are good. And cheap! I tried the caramel turtles and chocolate chip mint and took home a tub of each for $3 total. The secret to the rich flavor and unctuous mouthfeel? Our old friend HFCS, returned from the doghouse.

    Of course there’s good, cheap and healthy and 2 out of 3 isn’t bad. Would look forward to your comments when you’re back on the ice cream part of your diet.

  2. snoissea permalink
    June 10, 2016 11:49 am

    My drink of choice is Pelligrino with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Seltzer has too many (large) bubbles, and it makes me belch. Pelligrino is very lightly carbonated with tiny bubbles, which I much prefer and, no belching. Plus, I enjoy it’s subtle mineral quality. Of course it’s more expensive than seltzer, but good things cost good money oftentimes.

  3. June 10, 2016 1:19 pm

    I was a bonafide Diet Pepsi man for years. Recently quit entirely. Now I only drink tea, water, seltzer, vegetable juice, and intoxicants (couple outliers, kombucha and such too). The appeal of Diet Pepsi is not too hard to figure out. It is a flavorful (to some) sweet (artificially) beverage with an addictive stimulant (caffeine) in it that is affordable and pervasively available. It flips a lot of reward switches in people’s brains.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: