In case you think that headline is an unwarranted scare tactic, I didn't make it up.

I borrowed it from an article published in the Houston Chronicle. They got their information from the researchers at the University of Texas San Antonio, who did a study of middle-aged adults who drink soft drinks. Are you ready for this?

Do you drink diet soft drinks, in the hopes it will diminish the circumference of your waistline? Forget it. The study monitored the weight and soda-drinking habits of over 600 normal weight adults, aged 25 - 64. After following the participants for eight years, they discovered that diet soda drinkers were 65 percent more likely to be overweight (with just one soda per day), and two or more calorie-reduced drinks raised the odds of becoming obese or overweight even higher.

Interestingly, the researchers compared diet soft drink consumers against regular soft drink consumers, not against water drinkers. They were not comparing calorie for calorie; they were comparing sugar against artificial sweeteners.

Several explanations have been offered in this and other studies. Diet soft drink consumers may feel they can indulge in higher calorie treats since they were "so good" about the diet soft drink. While the sweetness of the diet drink may temporarily fool the tongue, the brain may be harder to trick, and demand high sugar foods to satisfy its energy demands. Other studies have shown that people who consume artificial sweeteners consume more calories than people who do not.

While we are on this topic, I am regularly asked about Splenda, a supposedly "almost natural" artificial sweetener. Quoting from Dr. Mercola (www.mercola.com), Splenda is certainly not natural. Although it is made from sugar, chemists add three chlorine molecules to sugar molecules to create the product. Animal studies have shown that Sucralose (Splenda) can cause shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage), enlarged liver and kidneys, atrophy of lymph follicles in the spleen and thymus, reduced growth rate, decreased red blood cell count, and diarrhea. Do you want that to happen to your body? I don't.

Do not even think about using aspartame. The list of conditions associated with this sweetener is even longer and more dire.

The answer? Get your sweet tooth under control. You may think it is impossible to corral this unruly member of your body but it is probably easier than you think. Make sure your diet is adequate in the B complex vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and GTF chromium, all of which are essential for metabolizing carbohydrates and balancing blood sugar.

The first step in controlling sugar cravings may be attitude, however. When I discuss this touchy subject with people, I see the look that crosses their face. "Give up sugar? Are you nuts?" As my mentor used to say, "The most dangerous place to be is between a man's (or woman's) fork and his/her mouth." That is particularly true when there is a piece of chocolate pie sitting on that fork.


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