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Published February 14, 2013, 11:35 PM

Holt: Kicking the (Diet Coke) can

When I started this column, I was sipping on a 32-ounce gas station fountain Diet Coke. I chucked it before I was done. As a health writer and a social-media addict, I skim lots of headlines, but this one caught my attention.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

When I started this column, I was sipping on a 32-ounce gas station fountain Diet Coke. I chucked it before I was done.

As a health writer and a social-media addict, I skim lots of headlines, but this one caught my attention.

“Study: Diet Soda Increases the Risk of Diabetes. Why Do We Still Drink This Stuff?”

Well, because it tastes good, or I’ve trained my brain to think it tastes good.

French researchers found that drinking just one 12-ounce can per week (that’s per WEEK, not per day) can increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes by 33 percent.

Stories attached to that link last week include “Diet Soda May Increase Risk of Depression,” “Diet Soda May Be Making You Fat” and “Are You Addicted to Diet Soda?”

Yikes.

My editor gave up diet soda about six months ago because of a similar study, and apparently she doesn’t miss it.

She says she used to crave it, but now it tastes like “drinking Lysol or licking an envelope.”

When she took a sip of her husband’s Diet Mountain Dew at the movies recently, she was so grossed out by it she almost did a spit-take.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to retrain my taste buds like she did, seeing as I’ve preferred the taste of diet soda to regular for more than 10 years, but I’m willing to give it a try.

I didn’t grow up drinking soda – diet or regular. It wasn’t an option. My parents reserved their choice, ginger ale, for pizza night or when one of us was sick.

I started drinking diet soda, mainly Diet Coke, in high school, when I could buy my own drinks. To this day, the only regular soda I can tolerate is Sprite or Sierra Mist.

My undying love for coffee was born around the same time, but there’s no way I’m giving THAT up, though I do use artificial sweeteners like Sweet-N-Low and Splenda in it.

Until now, I hadn’t tried to address my soda intake. I figured it wasn’t that big a deal since diet soda contains zero calories, but I did hear about the studies.

I knew it probably wasn’t good for me. Several friends have tried to talk me out of consuming the stuff.

Like sugar, fat and salt, I crave diet soda, especially with certain foods. I feel like I have to have it with pizza, for example, or burgers and fries.

Hmm – maybe I’m on to something there.

A study presented at a 2011 meeting of the American Diabetes Association linked diet soda consumption with waistline weight gain – the worst kind.

I assumed I didn’t start gaining weight around my middle until it had nowhere else to go, but maybe it had more to do with my artificially sweetened drinks.

If I stop drinking Diet Coke, will my cravings for other junk subside? We’ll see.

Two weeks ago, one of my friends quit smoking. He’s using patches and tracking apps to help him make the transition, but he’s doing it.

If he can give up a 10-year smoking habit, I can cut out diet soda.


Forum reporter Meredith Holt has lost 105 pounds since May 2010. She will share stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the first and third Friday of each month in SheSays. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5590.

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