By: Rick Bellanti – Oct. 2017

I am one to talk, as I became addicted to diet sodas back in 1986, when I first started seeing a nutritionist at a local hospital with weekly nutritional counseling sessions. I’m sure they didn’t know then, what everyone knows now about the health risks with drinking diet sodas (or diet anything for that matter).

I was addicted to regular soda, drinking up to a six pack or more a day of soda. One of the first suggestions she had was for me to switch to diet soda and in that first week alone I lost 9 pounds from all the extra calories I was no longer ingesting. This was my calorie intake a day from six cans a cola (140 calories x 6 cans) was 840 calories day for just my drink of choice but that’s not the real shocker; each 12 ounce can of soda has 39 grams of sugar, that’s 234 grams of sugar a day! Not counting the food eaten that day as well.

Diet sodas truly are the enemy of your body and is anything but “diet” so don’t be fooled, it is secretly making me, you and all of us unhealthy. Did you know the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas have been known to trigger headaches? And if you are one of the millions of people that suffer from migraines, please look at what you are putting into your body; many people who suffer from migraines were able to pinpoint the triggers linked to their soda drinking.

Did you know that drinking a mixed drink of alcohol along with diet soda will get into your system faster making you more impaired quicker, because the artificial sweeter in diet sodas are known to absorb into our bloodstream faster than normal sugar.

The artificial sweetener in diet sodas trick your brain into thinking you are having something sweet, these artificial sweeteners have been shown to have the same effect on your body as sugar triggers insulin, which then puts your body into fat storage mode and of course leads to weight gain.

Even though it has no calories, if you are trying to lose weight in the long run, it’s just not going to happen. Most people gain weight from this and in the worst spot, your mid section. It’s also been said that people will tend to eat more calories justifying they can get away with it because their drink of choice is “diet” and has no calories, so it could be psychological as well.

Eating more food and drinking diet soda is a collision course for the makings of bad cholesterol, bigger waist and mid section, high blood pressure, elevated glucose levels and there you have it: Type II Diabetes. Lately, there have been findings with connections to stroke and dementia but more research is being done to find direct connections.

If you are trying to lose weight, get rid of the word “DIET” from your vocabulary, but also from the food and drinks you purchase. If the word diet is in there, then it’s NOT good for you. It means they have taken something out of the ingredients and replaced it with something else and that is usually chemicals – (as in the artificial sweeteners in diet soda but also in every day foods – (especially the worst: prepackaged food products). These items will trick your body and brain into thinking you are eating something that you are not and disrupts the body’s natural ability to regulate calorie intake based on the sweetness of the normal foods. It tricks you into thinking you can overeat and you’ll crave more, its a vicious cycle and you will not lose weight no matter how hard you try.

Healthier low-calorie choices are everywhere including water, skim milk, and unsweetened tea or coffee. My favorite drink of choice is sparkling water / plain soda water with fresh pieces of fruit, cut up, like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and oranges. Keeping your body healthy with water goes way back to my very first column, drink half your body weight in water daily. You’ll thank me later.

Rick Bellanti is a health and wellness columnist and is on a journey himself to lose 240lbs, and has lost 160 lbs since the start of 2015. If you have any questions or comments, please post them to his Getting Healthy with Rick Bellanti Facebook page and once a month he will address a few of the topics here.