My time scouring the internet for new and useful information on health and weight loss has turned up the following possible (and scary) side effects related to the daily consumption of artificial sweetening agents:
- The taste of sweetness in the mouth triggers a release of insulin in the body. Since there’s no actual sugar being consumed, that insulin will cause blood sugar to be stored in body tissues. Because actual blood sugar does not increase, this can cause hypoglycemia or hyperinsulinemia, both of which cause the consumption of more food at the next meal. Due to these effects, overall calorie intake increases over time along with body weight.
- The natural feeling of fullness and satisfaction is not achieved with the consumption of artificial sweetener as it is with sugar, leading to a dissatisfied end state and cravings for more sweet.
- Population based studies have turned up evidence of increased overall weight gain among diet soda consumers over time.
It is important to note that the actual scientific experiments performed in the studies above were performed on rats, not human beings. Still, the results are disquieting.
Personally I only drink diet soda (two to three cans a day) at dinnertime. Dinnertime is also the meal at which I habitually overeat. Breakfast and lunch are not my trouble zones, and breakfast and lunch for me are almost always accompanied by water.
Is the diet soda stimulating my appetite?
Following my long tradition of using myself as a guinea pig (since no one else will let me experiment on them) I have given up artificial sweeteners as of two days ago. So far I feel fine, about normal. Maybe a bit headachy but my insomnia has been bad lately so I blame that more than withdrawal. It’s also possible that since diet soda was my main vehicle for the delivery of caffeine that my headache is just caffeine withdrawal.
Note that I am not going to chow down on real sugar instead, that stuff (although natural) has its own host of health problems attached. I’ve started drinking flavored seltzer with dinner and adding squeezes of citrus or crushed mint leaves to my water. I get bored with plain water all the time and I figured a few bubbles may ease my soda cravings – I’ve been drinking it all my life so I have no illusions that quitting cold turkey is going to be easy.
I’ll check back in a month and see what, if any, effects this has had on my hunger impulses. Assuming I haven’t been committed or arrested by then.
P.S. I already miss gum.