Does diet soda and other artificially sweetened foods and drinks help maintain a healthy weight or hurt?
A healthy weight is essential to heart health, but consuming diet foods and drinks may be working against you. Sweetness is a natural cue to the body, signaling incoming calories and the need to ramp up digestive processes. A study in the Journal of Behavioral Neuroscience found artificial sweeteners appear to short circuit this natural cue. Rather than ramping up, your body begins to ignore the sweetness cue and does not process extra calories or signal fullness. As a result, you not only use less of the calories you take in, causing more fat to be produced, but also take in more calories without the signal of fullness. Don’t let your body be tricked into gaining weight and increasing your risk of heart disease.
Here are some tips to kick the artificial sweetener habit:
Ban the packet:
Rather than dumping chemicals into your coffee or tea, sweeten it with a small amount of sugar instead. Choose natural brown sugar with just 15 calories per teaspoon which is more flavorful and less processed than regular table sugar. Alternatively, try a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg or a splash of real vanilla.
Treat soda as a treat rather than a beverage:
One regular soda per day as a treat likely won’t derail your healthy habits, however drinking soda with meals is a problem. Your body is unable to process the rapid intake of calories and creates more fat. Drinking diet soda with meals shuts off your fullness cues and will cause you to eat more. If you crave something bubbly and sweet, try sparkling water with fruit juice or Izze as a healthy alternative.
Unless you are diabetic, skip the sugar-free sweets. In addition to containing chemicals your body doesn’t need and can’t process, you are training your body to forget how to process calorie-rich foods. If you want a treat, choose a small amount of something delicious and indulgent. Enjoy your treat and let your body react naturally.
Read the label:
Many “lite” varieties of foods contain artificial sweeteners. A healthy choice, such as yogurt, turns into a problem when it is sweetened with saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, and acesulfame potassium.
Changing habits can be challenging, but stick with it. Your heart will thank you.
Eliz Greene is the author of The Busy Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Heart. Drawing on her experience surviving a massive heart attack while seven-months pregnant with twins, struggling to lose the 80 pounds gained during her pregnancy, and her background as an adaptive movement specialist, Eliz developed simple strategies and tips to help other busy women be more active, eat better and manage your stress.
As the Director of the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative, Eliz travels the country energizing and inspiring audiences in keynotes and workshops on women’s heart health. She writes one of the top 100 health and wellness blogs. Find more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com.