Buh-bye, cotton mouth.

Up until my senior year of high school, I rarely drank anything but milk. Not water, not soda, not juice (except when I had a cold). But with senior year came the privilege of study hall “in the commons”. Cafeteria, lounge area…and vending machines. That was when and where I discovered Coca-Cola, which quickly became my preferred caffeine source and my favorite beverage.

Years later, when my doctor first became concerned about my fasting blood sugar levels, I made the immediate switch to diet soda for caffeine and artificial sweeteners for the occasional coffee and tea. At that point, coffee still held little appeal, other than the fantastic coffee found on our European honeymoon. Tea didn’t do anything for me, either.

Thanks to books like Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I started thinking about all that artificial sweetener I was consuming and contemplated giving up diet soda. Coffee wasn’t so bad after all and flavored iced tea was delicious on summer evenings – and both tasted great sweetened with stevia. But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t give up diet soda.

A few weeks ago, I noticed constant cotton mouth. High blood sugar wasn’t the cause of mushy teeth, according to the meter anyways. I decided to cut back on the diet soda and artificial sweeteners once and for all.

Today marks two weeks since I have consumed diet caffeinated soda, though I am still having a small glass of diet 7UP every day. Alternating Splenda and stevia to sweeten that single cup of coffee has been part of the morning routine.

The result? My mouth seems fresher, my teeth seem stronger. Most importantly, food cravings have decreased. With some evidence of a connection between diet soda and continued food cravings, I’m not surprised. Managing portion control is much easier when there isn’t constant hunger.

(Oh, and about the milk. I discovered that I had some mild lactose intolerance back in college. Between the stomach discomfort and needing to curb milk intake for blood sugar reasons, I don’t drink it anymore. I use soy milk for coffee and when I eat cereal.)

Posted on January 7, 2008, in Diabetes, Health. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I switched from Diet Coke to Earl Grey tea fairly easily. It’s cheaper, healthier, and even tastes better. There’s a wonderful world of teas out there. Many don’t even need sugar to be tasty.

  2. That is so great. I love hearing when people cut out the pop. My parents drink soda (diet too, eek!) constantly and I can’t imagine that it is good for their health.

  3. Elver> Yeah, I’ve been rather surprised at how much tea doesn’t need sweetening – and that makes life so much easier when avoiding the artificial stuff.

    Alisa> :)

  4. Scott K. Johnson

    Wow! Way to go!

    There’s a lady I work with who also feels that when she drinks diet coke she has many more food cravings.

    I think you are on to something. I know I need to cut out all the DC I drink, but man…that’s a big step for me!! :-)

  5. Scott> Iced tea helps. a lot. (Still on the diet 7UP and selected wyler’s light/crystal light…but one thing at a time, right?)

  6. I thought that iced tea usually has a ton of sugar in it?

    I don’t think that Diet Coke causes food cravings. I used to drink almost a gallon of Diet Coke every day for months and I was also on a sub-BMR diet at the time, without any cravings.

    Then again, a sub-BMR diet is when you consume less calories than your Base Metabolic Rate and it tends to take care of cravings on its own. At the end of it I was so not interested in food, that I had to eat ice cream and fatty burgers just to get my required amount of calories.

    Diet Coke, if consumed in large quantities, should also upset the mental link between flavor and calories. Basically when your body is low on calories, it makes you want food, because it associates the taste of food with calories. If you consume a ton of great-tasting beverage with no calories, the body should become confused enough over time that when it starts craving calories, it doesn’t crave flavor.

    The Shangri-La Diet is based on the reverse of this and was invented by a UC Berkeley psychologist based on actual scientific experiments. His theory is that if you consume tasteless calories every day, your body will also disassociate taste and calories.

    So drinking Diet Coke in huge quantities, daily, should end food cravings. But then again, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone do this for more than a couple of months. The CO2 used to carbonate the drink has the effect of taking calcium out of your body. So either shake the bubbles out first or drink milk on the side.

  7. Elmer> Pre-bottled iced tea has a TON of sugar. But iced tea that you make from teabags has no added sugar/sweetener. And that’s what I do!

    See here about the connection between diet soda and food cravings: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/04/earlyshow/contributors/emilysenay/main2330142.shtml

  8. I think the journalist might have jumped to conclusions here. The scientists found a correlation between drinking diet coke and being obese, but they didn’t prove causation.

    Correlation: A and B tend to happen at the same time. This was found.

    Causation: A causes B. Or B causes A. This was not proven.

    If A and B happen at the same time, it might be because A causes B or because B causes A or because some yet unknown factor C causes both A and B.

    If people who drink diet coke tend to be obese, then that could be either:

    1. Diet coke causes obesity.
    2. Obese people prefer diet coke.
    3. Some third factor causes obesity and makes people prefer diet coke.

    #3 seems unlikely to me, but both #1 and #2 seem equally likely. What the journalist did was prefer the most sensational interpretation, “diet coke causes obesity”, and the rest of the article is confirmation bias at work — he/she is looking for evidence to support his/her interpretation.

    I’m a fat dude and I try to watch my weight, so on the rare occasions when I go out to eat, I tend to get a diet coke on the side. That’s obesity causing me to gravitate towards diet coke.

    Back when I was less fat, I used to drink regular coke, because I didn’t see my weight as an issue.

    “Obese people prefer diet coke” is just as valid an interpretation, I think.


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