Posts in Ask Rebecca
Soda vs. Diet Soda: Which is healthier?

What a loaded question, but one I often get as a registered dietitian. It is a particularly popular question among those that don't have a polarized food ideology. Some of you feel very passionately that soda of all kind is the devil in a pop-top, and should be avoided at all cost – no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.

Fair. I will acknowledge that sodas whether regular, diet, or any version in-between add zero nutritional value to one’s diet. If you so choose, your life and health will be no “worse” off if you sustain from fizzy or sweetened beverages from now till Jesus comes back. BUT, I will argue that you don’t have to abstinent from soda to be in good health.

The last gentlemen who recently asked me this very question got somewhat frustrated with me when he didn’t get a black and white answer from me, the dietitian. You might find yourself in the same boat - but keep reading.

I think my next book title will be “50 Shades of Healthy.” You want it black and white, but the truth be told it doesn’t work that way unless you are hard-pressed for it to be that way. (Which is an issue in and of its self.)

TRUTH: No-One should be drinking a volume soda or diet soda that would render a big-ole positive impact on their overall health if it vanished from their daily diet.

Meaning, regardless of your choice, one should at maximum be drinking them on occasion, defined as less than one per day, which means, on a daily bases your intake of plain water should double or triple in comparison of your sweetened (of any kind) beverage intake.

(Moderation is the most overused, undefined term, that makes your ego feel better about partaking in things not right for you. Life lesson, define it, or it is meaningless.)

To ask the healthier question, soda, or diet soda is to ask the wrong item entirely.

First, you need to answer the question, what are your overall goals?

If you are trying to manage diabetes or your weight, then you have objectives of higher value and choosing the diet route is going to be in your favor.

If diabetes or weight control isn’t of concern to you, ask yourself which beverage brings you the most joy and go for that.

The MILLION-DOLLAR question of the day– why do you need your beverage to be fizzy or sweetened to chug it down?

Humans are great at finding substitutions for things that please them but are killing them or putting them at high risk for unfortunate consequences.

“Light” Cigarettes still cause cancer.
“Light” Beer still impairs your driving and can make you fat.
“Artificial” sweetener is still unhealthy in large doses.
“Fat-free” is often just as unhealthy with added salt and sugars.
“Sugar-free” is often just as unhealthy with added salt and fat.
“Gluten-free” is just dumb if you’re not wheat intolerant.
"Dairy- and Meat-free" is just dumb if you don't have a doctor-diagnosed allergy or significant (family) history of heart disease not controlled by sensible lifestyle changes or have strong "emotional-feelings" towards ceratin farming principals.

You are looking for a unicorn without facing your real issue.
Remember, the truth will set you free.

Why do you “need “substitutes for your real issues?

Pull up your big girl/boy undies and deal with the elephant on your plate, or in your glass. Take time to explore and deal with your more significant issues. Your physical and mental health will thank you.

Love you, mean it.