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VOL. 38 | NO. 47 | Friday, November 21, 2014

Zero to zero? Rethinking diet soda addiction

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Here’s some disturbing news. I’ve heard it before, and ignored it, but now I’m hearing it so much, I figure something about it must be true.

I’m a diet soda junkie. I drink the “Zero” drink like it’s going out of style.

I think, lately, my dear husband has been counting because he keeps checking me about my caffeine intake. I always have a comeback. (Don’t all of us wives?)

Mine is that caffeine is one of the leading drugs for migraine headaches, which I have.

On top of this caffeine conflict we’re having, there comes more disheartening news. Evidence is mounting that diet soda may actually cause you to gain weight. (That’s just great, huh?)

So here’s the scoop, which I researched on several different websites. Even Snopes.com, which didn’t have a comment yea or nay.

According to EverydayHealth.com: “Recent literature suggests that those who drink diet soda weigh more than those who don’t. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.” (Sorry, but it did me.)

The reasoning behind diet soda and weight gain is diet soda has been linked to developing metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that include expanding waist size, increased blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, lower levels of good cholesterol and high fasting blood sugar levels.

Cracker Barrel Double Fudge Coca-Cola Cake

For the cake:
1 cup Coca-Cola
1/2 cup oil
1 stick margarine
3 tablespoons cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
Frosting:
1/4 pound margarine
3 tablespoon cocoa
6 tablespoon cream or milk
1 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 to 1 cup pecans, chopped
1 pound confectioners’ sugar

In saucepan, bring coke, oil, margarine, and cocoa to boil. Mix the sugar, flour, and salt; pour in the boiling liquid and beat well. Add the eggs, buttermilk, soda, and vanilla; beat well. Pour into greased and floured sheet cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

For the frosting: In a saucepan, combine butter, cocoa, milk; heat until butter melts. Beat in the remaining ingredients. Spread on hot cake.

Having three or more of these findings increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Here are some other research findings you should know about diet soda:

The San Antonio Heart Study finds the more diet sodas you drink, the greater the chance that you’ll be overweight or obese. For each diet soda you drink, there’s a 65 percent increase in your risk of becoming overweight.

The Framingham Heart Study found you’re at risk for weight gain and metabolic syndrome if you drink diet soda.

Research done at Purdue University found rats fed artificial sweeteners gained more weight than rats fed normal sugar.

Findings from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, show that meat, fried food and diet soda are all significantly associated with metabolic syndrome.

Jiminy Crickets! We just went yesterday and filled the garage fridge with a bunch of diet sodas!

My caffeine intake doesn’t bother me much. My grandmother drank coffee all day almost every day of her 105 years and had no health problems, so that doesn’t excite me. (What a good use of a pun!)

And I don’t have any of the problems of metabolic syndrome – but the expanding waistline. Oops! I have been working on that, and it’s not budging.

I guess I need to start drinking more coffee (I drink it black, or sometimes with a little two percent milk) and more water. Maybe a sweet tea for dinner – with real sugar, of course!

At least I don’t have to cut out the Starbucks run yet. That would be very difficult.

So, for the recipe today, I’ve decided to get rid of some of my sodas and make one of my very favorite Coke cakes: Cracker Barrels’ version of Coca-Cola Cake. It’s delicious!

Kay Bona is an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.

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