Artificial Sweeteners.

The New York Times released an article about how metabolic syndrome is tied to diet soda.

We don’t drink much soda in our house, not that I have anything against it, really. I was just never much of a soda drinker. (Well, besides something called Wink. Do you remember Wink? That’s what given from time to time when we were kids.) TobyJoe and I try and avoid high fructose corn syrup entirely, so until we can easily get Coke made with actual sugarcane, I don’t think we’re going to become a family of soda drinkers. (Seriously? Why can’t we have soda with actual sugar in it? Why the need for all the high fructose corn syrup?)

We don’t drink diet soda either. I’ve always been a little wary of the fake stuff, which is why I never really developed an attraction for diet soda. I did have an affair with Splenda once. That lasted for a few months before I realized that it left a terrible aftertaste. Plus, when I found out how it works I got a little freaked out. (Also, having discovered that “sugar alcohol” is also some chemistry weirdness, we stopped buying South Beach bars as well. No more of that stuff. I’ll be fat if I have to be, thank you.)

I’m curious to hear what others think about this. Why do you think this is happening? Are you going to give up your diet cola? Do you care at all? If you were pregnant, would you avoid fake sugars entirely? Did you? Are you going to go grab a Diet Dr. Pepper right now?

While we’re talking sugar, do you give your little ones juice?

Testing, testing, is this thing on?


  1. I am pregnant and have avoided artificial sweeteners. Just seemed to fake. But I love diet coke and had it 1x week before pregancy. Oddly I haven’t craved it at all. I have also had to teach my husband that light on the packaging doesn’t mean good, it means fake stuff is in there. he loves pancake syup instead of maple syrup too, but we made the switch when I showed him it was just corn. Anytime I have juice I cut it with water.


  2. i’ve been hearing this stuff for awhile now too, and it freaks me out. it freaks me out to think about the chemicals i willingly consume on a daily basis, and what kind of effect that’s going to have in the long-term. i really believe if i could quit drinking diet soft drinks and replace them with water, that little step alone would make me feel about 10,000x better and also probably help me lose weight/clear up my skin.

    my mom is really into natural/alternative medicine and has been begging me to quit with the diet soda (and sending me terrifying articles about it) for the past year or two…but HEY she is the one that got me hooked on it when i was a pre-teen!

    for the record, i’m drinking a diet pepsi max as i write this : i wish i could quit youuuu


  3. I stopped drinking pop(western PA vernacular)about 10 years ago. Every now & then I give into a craving, but I can never finish a whole can. Makes me feel too full. It’s the bubbles, I think. I never drank diet drinks. I always hated the taste. I rarely drink anything besides water(except for wine!) I’ve been trying to find pop that isn’t made with HFCS just to see what it tastes like. I can’t seem to find any small bottlers in my area of ‘boutique’ pop, but have you ever heard of Kosher or Passover Coke with real sugar? It’s rare, but can be found. Check out this link. (not sure how this will look in my comment.)
    Also, I started giving my son watered-down juice with calcium at 15 months because he wouldn’t drink cow’s milk. The pediatrician says he’d have to drink too much sugar to get enough calcium, but I figure it’s better than nothing. Plus, he eats cheese & yogurt. He will drink chocolate milk now, which isn’t much better. Of course, sometimes I feel guilty, but at 5 his teeth are good, he’s not overweight, and he’s never had any pop. I try to stick with 100% juice, still water it down & try different colors-orange, pom-blueberry, fruit/veggie mix.


  4. When I was in Mexico for our honeymoon, the Cokes tasted different. When we looked closer at the ingredients, we noticed that it was sweetened with cane sugar, not corn syrup. I don’t know if it’s just a Mexico/Coke thing or not.

    Personally, I REALLY dislike the taste of diet sodas. If given the choice between a diet soda or water, I’d pick water every time. I don’t drink a lot of sodas period, but I’m not about to ruin a perfectly good soda with ‘artificial’ sweetners. Water or the real stuff only for me.

    For babies, I water down the juice…it’s a lot less sugar and as a bonus, the juice goes further.


  5. I have heard about Passover cola! Williamsburg is very hasidic. I need to get me some of that some time. Not that I have cravings all that often, but it might be nice to have some real sugar-sweetened cola around.

    I do love my wine as well, PGHgirl.

    Kids love chocolate milk, don’t they? Guess that’s a great way to get them to drink milk. I am not looking forward to the picky eating phase that we’re certainly going to face. He will eat anything you give him now.


  6. I have heard of the Mexican coke thing. It’s annoying we can’t get that here. I think I blame it entirely on lobbyists. Bastards. Give us the real deal! We’re getting fatter by the minute ingesting all this HFCS.


  7. I am also pregnant now, and I stopped drinking what little soda I did consume when I found out that I was knocked up. Because the soda I consumed was usually in conjunction with with booze and now that is out too! But I LOVE Wink! And I will usually buy it when I see it, because it goes so very good with Gin. Most of the folks in my office are trying to stop drinking soda (diet especially) because of that study. I just noticed that this topic is being disucssed at Ask Moxie as well!

    As for the juice consuming toddler, I only have what my friends and famliy have recommended, which is dilute it with water.


  8. I will have to check out Moxie and see what she has to say about it!

    They still make Wink? Shocking! I had no idea. i don’t think I’ve seen it since I was a kid.


  9. I think someone else mentioned it already, but I’m pretty sure Mexican Coke (not widely available, but definitely around) is made with real sugar.

    I don’t ever use artificial sweeteners. Sorry, except for a tbsp. of corn syrup when I bake rhubarb (5x/ year, maybe?). I try to avoid any foods that have corn syrup but it’s HARD.

    No, no juice for my toddler, unless she has the stomach flu. If others give it to her, that’s fine, but I see no point in having it around. She happily drinks water.


  10. I was one of those 5-8 cans of Diet Pepsi a day people for the past 5 or so years. I loved it. I NEEDED it. But this summer my aunt was talking about the fact that her son hadn’t had an asthma attack in the 7 years that they started following the Feingold program ( to help with his ADHD. The diet removes artificial colors, flavors & sweeteners and while we all thought she was a crazy granola head for a long time, hearing how his health had improved led me to dig a bit deeper (this was a kid who was hospitalized almost monthly with severe asthma).

    I surfed around their website for a bit, but it was reading this article on Sugar vs. artificial sweeteners that opened my eyes. ( )I am putting my “Feingold Post” as my website above if anyone would like to read my take on the diet. I don’t have ADHD but I signed up for Feingold because it all just made so much sense to me. It’s not a “diet” per se, they research companies and you can buy a foodlist (a spiral bound book) that tells you exactly which companies are completely approved. Part of your membership packet included access to the bulletin board, where you can find lots of recipes and ideas from other people across the states (and a few other countries, too) who have gone through the same ordeal of cutting these things our of their lives.

    I cut my cola habit cold turkey last October, and I feel SO.MUCH.BETTER. I’ve slowly cut the other artificials out of my life and I can’t see myself ever going back. My family has likened my new awareness of food additives to someone who recently became “born again,” the more I learn the more I want to shout it all from the rooftops.


  11. True story: I stopped regularly drinking soft drinks when I was about 12 or so after one evening where I downed an entire 2 liter bottle myself. I spent the entire night with heart palpitations and was horribly nauseous, and I never wanted to feel that way again. It ended up being one of the better decisions I have made in life, because as time passed I realized I had lost my sweet tooth. Cutting out soda (or “pop” as we called it in the Midwest) made a huge difference in how I would eat going forward, and I think it had a positive impact on my health.

    I can’t remember the last time I had a soft drink, but I do occasionally buy Boylan’s cola for Mike (which is usually used in summertime cocktails like the Cuba Libre). Actually, we’re trying to stay away from HFCS tonic waters now as well, and buying Q or FeverTree instead of Canada Dry or Schweppes.

    I really think that HFCS is one of the worst things out there, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that obesity, diabetes, etc. have become such a problem since HFCS has become such a major part of our food supply.


  12. I don’t know anything about the sugar debate but know that cola is bad for rotting out your teeth. I don’t know how much you have to drink for that to happen, though.

    I’m sure I’ll be burned at the stake for saying this but we live in modern industrialized world and sometimes we have to look at the good with bad. I’m guessing you generate garbage that goes to a landfill. You use some form of transportation that likely uses oil/gas. If you have electronic equipment it was likely made at a plant that used chlorinated solvents in the process. Aluminum cans are made at facilities that use a lot of oil to bend the metal.


  13. Sally, what does that last bit have to do with HFCS or sugar? I’m not sure I understand your point in relation to this topic. Did I miss something?

    I have been known to miss things, especially now.


  14. I’ve never liked diet sodas – even before I realized it was the aspartame in foods giving me massive headaches. It took me years to become accustomed to the taste of Sweet n Low, and even now I only use about a half of a packet for a glass of iced tea. I can’t stand Splenda, it leaves a horrible aftertaste in my mouth.

    Alas, I love my high fructose corn syrup. It is a very difficult habit to break. Whole Foods and some of the higher end grocery stores where I live (TX) have specialty sodas that are made with pure cane sugar. I know you can order Dr Pepper made with pure cane sugar Jones soda is made with pure cane sugar as well, and it has some interesting flavors.

    I do give my daughter apple juice and gatorade. I try to limit my own consumption of soda, so she doesn’t get it as much as other kids do. I started out cutting the apple juice with water, but as she got older she insisted on full strength. She’s five now, and I noticed she doesn’t drink apple juice or gatorade as often anymore – she’s asking for water and milk. I think that is great!!!


  15. You can sometimes find Mexican Coke in Greenpoint… check in the little bodegas along Manhattan (are they still there?) for the Coke glass bottles written in Spanish. We are totally anti-HFCS in our house. Mitch won’t even look at the stuff!

    (ps: do you think you’ll get some strange google search traffic to your site from this post? Mexican Coke and all??)


  16. I drink a lot of Cokes-love them. I prefer the real thing but usually drink diet. I think I would fall over if I didn’t have the caffeine in my life. I haven’t slept through the night in two years so I need all the stimulation I can get. We weren’t allowed to drink Cokes growing up. It was a very rare occasion when we got one. My mom preferred that we drink milk or juice. Being raised in the South though, we always had a giant pitcher of sweet tea in the fridge. That was (and still is) my favorite drink. I have found a lot of the Jones sodas are made with cane sugar. I can get them at the Target near us so I am assuming if they sell it in Alabama they sell it everywhere else. One of Rob’s friends brings us the Dr. Peppers from Dublin, Texas. They are fantastic! They charge a fortune to ship them though:( We looked into it and were shocked at the shipping.

    As for juice, we gave it to both our kids—mainly OJ. One of our pediatricians told us that was really the only juice you should give little kids (can’t remember why though). Shep prefers milk which is good. Simone hated white milk. She drank mostly chocolate milk (hello, rob’s child) but now she rarely has that. The carbs are pretty high in milk (especially chocolate) so we give her yogurt or cheese instead. Something that is more filling and still gives her calcium. If she is ‘low,’ she gets a 15 carb apple juice box, but that is about the only time she has any kind of juice. Oh, and neither of mine could stand watered down juice-had to be full strength.


  17. there is definitely mexican coke in greenpoint! acapulco, the little mexican place on manhattan up near dupont, has it.

    i’ve been struggling with giving up soda myself. the problem is that i really, truly love it. i have about 5-7 sodas a week, on average, but i just can’t give it up. i like a mix of half diet/half regular.


  18. Mexicoke can be ordered through BevMo (if you don’t have them in your area) or bought by the flat at Costco!


  19. I am currently pregnant and I drink one of those mini Diet Pepsis a day. It gives me a bit of caffeine and the bubbles make me happy.

    I will probably birth a baby with four extra legs because of it.


  20. Nicole (another one) February 13, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    I am pregnant and was diagnosed with gestational diabetes a couple weeks ago. My nutritionist (who is well respected in her field, published author, etc) said she doesn’t agree with the whole debate about aspartame because it is only made up of two amino acids that she believes, based on a ton of research, are not harmful. I know most of you will tell me that’s ridic, but I tend to trust doctors and nutritionists I meet in person instead of stuff I find on the internet. She gave me the green light to drink diet coke or crystal lite or whatever if it helped satisfy sweet cravings, since it is far better to do that than eating a cookie or a drinking real coke and having my blood sugar go through the roof. But this, like so many other debates, is a to each her own kind of thing, in my opinion.


  21. Don’t know if anybody has mentioned this, but Jones Soda makes their soda’s with pure cane sugar. They are really good!! You can go to and check them out.


  22. No juice for my kids (ages 1 and 3.5), they drink either water or non-dairy milk. No cavities yet.
    I had always heard that having a piece of fruit is better than drinking juice…and with the extra sugar in most fruit juices I worried about cavities.
    Re: soda. We don’t drink it. Although when I was pregnant with both of my boys I did drink Sierra Mist b/c it helped with my nausea.
    The reason I don’t drink soda is the unneccesary calories. I don’t need any help gaining weight.


  23. I don’t drink diet soda, as a rule. Never have. I don’t like the idea of artificial sweeteners, and I don’t like the taste. If I have the occasional soda (and it is occasional), I get the full sugar kind, but I can rarely finish a whole can – too filling. I do think that diet soda is probably not as good for you as regular – but neither are doing you any favors! Drinking a ton of either is probably going to be detrimental anyway, and conversely drinking either kind once in a while probably won’t hurt.

    I also use real butter, full fat maple syrup, ice cream made from milk and cream, natural peanut butter, Simply Fruit as my jelly, etc. etc. Making something diet or low fat usually means putting something fake in it, and I would rather get my calories honestly. Mostly honestly. I’m glad you mentioned the South Beach bars thing – I got a coupon for them and so I bought my first box to try it. It’s ok, but I prefer my LUNA bars!

    I have close friends who are passionate about fat free butter, fat free sour cream, diet soda, lite syrup, lo-cal blah blah blah. The thing is, I’m thinner than they are. I’m willing to bet I’m healthier, too. And my food tastes better. All these little shortcuts do not necessarily a healthier person make.

    As for juice – I only buy 100% juice, and I cut it with sparkling water. Tasty. I think juice has been getting a somewhat bad rap lately. It’s not as good as eating whole fruit, and it does have sugar. But at least you aren’t getting nothing for your calories – there are nutrients in there. And it’s a tasty alternative to water. So – I’m pro juice! And I vote!


  24. I have just now started introducing diet foods and drinks to my children who are six and nine. The main reason behind it? My daughter (the nine year old) is the shortest in her class but weighs ninety-eight pounds! She’s always been off the charts in her weight (never in her height) since she was a baby. I fear, if we don’t get a handle on her weight soon, she will be fighting obesity all her life. Of course I also encourage making healthy natural choices and keep her physically active with sports, dance classes, etc. I’m at the point of thinking the benefits of a reduced caloric intake will outweigh the potential hazards of ingesting artificial substances. I hope I’m right…..


  25. I too rarely drink soda, but I love Wink almost as much as I love Squirt. Our local taqueria has Mexican Squirt with real sugar. hoo-ray. It does taste better, or at least different.

    Why is there no love for the grapefruit soda?


  26. My father has had Type 1 diabetes since he was 9 years old, so I grew up in a house where anything that was sweet was artificially sweetened. As kids, we were only allowed milk (skim) with dinner, but from time to time my father would put diet A&W rootbeer in our milk as a special treat. Kind of like a rootbeer float.


  27. oh…one more thing…I saw this great documentary last weekend that was presented by Slow Food Boston (instead of fast food) called King Corn. It’s all about the production of corn in Iowa and what that corn is used for. Definitely worth seeing if you want further insight into high fructose corn syrup.


  28. I like Blue Sky ( I think you can get it a Whole Foods and Trader Joes.

    According to the website: “Our beverages are all natural with no preservatives, no artificial colors and only natural flavors.”

    If you are interested in HFCS, you should check out the movie “King Corn.” After seeing it, we went home and threw away everything we had which contained HFCS. It’s a really interesting look at why corn is in just about everything we eat.


  29. water, coffee, wine, beer, tonic and 2% hormone free milk. Nothing artificial during pregnancy and really ever. Just hate the taste and frankly if I want a sugar free beverage I drink water. If I want the caf kick then I have a coffee/espresso. I get weird about the sugar free gum and try to stick to the classics – big red, double mint, etc.

    My sister loves the splenda. I am horrified that she puts like 3 in her coffee.


  30. I am a coke-aholic and never learned to drink coffee. It is my source of caffeine. I realllyy need to cut back on how much I drink, but find it very hard. Any suggestions out there? I can’t drink the diet stuff because it gives me screaming headaches. I also despise the taste.

    We live in Texas and the “real” cokes and Dr. Pepper are readily available at the grocery store but cost twice as much as the stuff with corn syrup.

    Our three year old drinks juice very rarily. When he does I make sure and get the good stuff and then cut it with water. He drank more when he was younger, but I watched it pretty closely. Now he almost always asks for “icy water” or milk (organic only as suggested by his dr.).


  31. I don’t drink any soda, I just don’t like it. If I drink anything soda-like, it is ginger ale. We give Cooper water with a couple of juice splashes every day. I buy the all natural kind with no added sugar, I see no harm in this although I know there are plenty of anti-juice sanctimoms out there…


  32. I was raised in the South, and we were never allowed sugar anything in our house. Everything was healthy, no sugar cereals, no white bread, no candy, no soda, etc. It kind of backfired for me though, because as I grew older, I developed a raging sweet tooth. I still have a weakness for sweetened ice tea, as my aunt always had some at her house, and that was our only access to sugar. I have a candy drawer in our kitchen.

    My doctor actually recommended to me that I drink at least 1 can of regular soda per day while I was pregnant. I would get massive migraines 1-2 times a week that I was on medications for, and I couldn’t take the medications during pregnancy (class D) and she said the caffeine could help with that. So I drank 1 (sometimes 2) cokes a day until the last month, when I started cutting back until I was down to none. That was hard.

    When I was in Spain, their coke was made with sugar cane, and I drank it almost non stop while I was there. It was very good, and refreshing, which coke normally isn’t.

    Yes, I wrote this while drinking a coke.


  33. i hate the dreaded metabolic syndrome. and i have given up soda. in everything. no diet, no nothing now. and i . am. MISERABLE.

    they say that when you give up something for 21 days you can make it habit, easily. i’m 5 days into no diet soda and i’m sad, and i will miss my jack and cokes terribly, but i think cranberry juice is a better mixer for me nowadays.


  34. and by hate, i totally meant have.

    well i meant hate too.

    HATE IT.


  35. Two of you have suggested King Corn! That’s a must see apparently. Thank you!


  36. Squeal! I love this topic. Soft drinks are such a sacred cow with people, it’s hard to talk about in real life.
    So many otherwise smart, seemingly health-conscious people I know drink Diet Coke, and trying to convince them to switch to coffee is like suggesting they give up breathing.
    I never liked the taste of diet food or drink—thankfully, I guess, since it’s all turning out to be so bad for us. And I’d way rather spend the calories on wine than drink 300 of them in a cloying regular Coke.
    As for juice, I try to water it down, but at least my kids aren’t drinking Sprite or other artificial stuff, which I’ve noticed too many other kids sucking down in public.


  37. It is true, people are very, very overprotective of their soda. But I do love my wine. And you’re right, Jess, when it comes to drinking calories, I much prefer the wine. :]

    I do crave the occasional rootbeer float. Wow, and whenever that craving hits, it’s the most intense feeling ever. (For some reason, I really craved them while pregnant. But I only had about three the entire nine months. I avoided all artificial sweeteners, even coffee! Which was tough, to say the least. I was very careful about what I ingested while pregnant. This coming from someone who enjoyed huffing tar toward the end because of the intense pica cravings.)


  38. I have a huge vendetta against artificial sweeteners, and HFCS, and because of that I try to avoid both entirely. I know as an American, where our country is completely owned and bombarded by all things synthetic this can be extremely difficult…..but I do try to eat organically/naturally, or make everything from scratch whenever possible. When I was pregnant recently I did my best to avoid junk. I work at Starbucks so it was really hard to cut back on lattes. I guess if I had to choose which one was more evil I would say soda? Some people may argue this point with me, but I tell them to go straight to hell….in fact i think most people in this country should follow suit: “DRINK MORE COFFEE, LESS SODA!” (steps down off of soap box)

    Besides they did a study recently on women recently that proved women who consume more caffeine (as in the caffeine found in coffee, not soda) on a regular basis are 25% less likely to get cervical/ovarian cancer than those who don’t. Must be all the antioxidants in those coffee beans. moving along…

    As far as giving my kids juice, I watered down juice for my son when he was little (juicy juice because it contains no artificial sweeteners, colors etc.). I have a magic bullet, so I am going to attempt to make my own juice and baby food for my daughter when she gets a little older.

    As far as HFCS exempt sodas, or soda alternatives I recommend “R.W. Knudsen spritzers” with the highest regard! Natural fruit juice and sparkling water (gives it that “soda” effect for all of you who crave the sweet fizzy sensation), they are delicious and come in a variety of “pseudo-soda” flavors like “lemon lime” (to mimick sprite), cherry coke, ginger ale, black cheery, grape and root beer, and a whole sleu of other orgasmic flavors like tangerine, mango fandango, raspberry, boysenberry, orange passion fruit etc. You can read about them here:


  39. Oh and P.S. I ADORE wine also….

    And no I’m not drinking any right now (in case you wondering because of that huge novel I just wrote up above). But now I think I will go next door and buy some. Thanks for the inspiration ladies! :)


  40. Wow, Michele…another topic close to my heart!

    I, Wendy, am a former Diet Coke addict. I was one of those people that other people were amazed by. I regularly went through a 24 pack in about 2 days. And that was not including the Diet Cokes I bought when I was not at home. I had a reputation as Diet Coke girl.

    There is a long history behind my DC addiction. My mother (who is a dietician, funnily enough) always had it in the house (for herself and she gave them to us very, very occasionally – usually if we had a stomachache or heartburn). And, for a period of quite a few years, I had an eating disorder. Diet Coke was pretty much the only thing that passed my lips (other than oranges and air-popped popcorn…go figure).

    Diet Coke was my friend. We had been through a lot together. But, about three years ago, I decided to stop. And I just gave up. I stopped cold turkey (I have very good willpower). I went 10 months without drinking a single Diet Coke. I only had one when I went home to visit my folks in Seattle because it freaked my mom out that I had changed so much. Now, I occasionally have one, but not regularly. Often, I will have one in place of an alcoholic drink if I am out and not in the mood.

    I drink a lot of tea, a cup of coffee about two times a week, and a boatload of water. I don’t miss my Diet Coke. I don’t feel any different since giving up Diet Coke. Honestly. I am lucky – I don’t have a sweet tooth.

    The thing is, according to my mom (like I said, dietician), obviously sodas aren’t great for you, but like everything, in moderation you are fine. If your diet overall is very good then a soda a day is not going to cause too much harm. Personally, she has always told me to worry more about fast food.


  41. The article is slightly frustrating as the doctor doesn’t provide a possible explanation as to why diet soda drinkers had the higher risk.

    I reckon however that it is probably something to do with the chemical reaction between the asparthame in the drink and the ingrediants in the dodgey food their eating.

    As a young woman, I am a junk food fantatic. The urge to have a bag of chips on Saturday evening is just too overwhelming. I have however started to go down the more healthy path, for fear that doctors don’t entirely understand what chemicals in food are doing to our bodies. But really, you only live once and, unless you can live the life of a caveman, you’re probably going to contract a problem that is related to what you eat.

    Oh, and the cavemen didn’t live very long either!

    About feeding your increadibly adorable baby juice, I would steer clear of the acidic ones and ensure that the juice fed is actually juice rather than sugar/chemical water. But I’m sure you already knew that!


  42. You had pica? Crazy! I’ve never met anyone who had that during pregnancy. I (currently pg) have a marinara-sauce addiction, whatever that’s called. Sauce-a.


  43. Yes, I had a severe desire for things like tar, sharpies, everything chemical smelling. It was alarming. But then I found out it was perfectly normal. (It started right at the very end. The only thing that helped stifle the weird cravings was parsley believe it or not. Worked wonders. I ate so much parsley during the last month, TJ thought I was going to grow it out of my skin. He used to make me giants salads that consisted mainly of parsley. heh. Pregnancy is weird.)


  44. On the juice-for-kids front, I don’t have a freak-out if she has some out of the house, (she’s 2), but it’s a mondo-super-duper treat when I give it to her (and even then, it’s watered down). The options in the house are water or milk, and it has never been an issue. I’d say, if you can, just don’t even bother introducing juice. It’s void nutritionally and will only fill his tummy up and not leave room for the good stuff.


  45. I’m inclined to go that way, Annie. We gave it up because of the whole, “How many fruits does one have to eat to get this much juice?” And figured eating the fruit is a better idea. So that’s what we do now, we eat fruit. I hope I can do the same for him.


  46. Michelle that’s exactly what my nutritionist said about fruit juice – think about how many oranges it takes to make one tall glass of OJ. It’s just pure sugar (not the refined kind, but still).


  47. If you want to know more about HFCS and why it’s in everything, in addition to King Corn, read The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Really eye-opening. Thankfully, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth (salt is another story—I could happily keep a salt lick on the kitchen counter) and so don’t much like the taste of soda. I have juice sometimes with Pellegrino because I do like the fizziness.

    As for why diet soda leads to metabolic syndrome, I’ve heard the theory that the artificial sweetness, even though it may not contain sugar or calories, triggers the craving for more sweetness, in whatever form, most of which has sugar or corn syrup of some kind. It’s some sort of evolutionary thing—fruits and other sweet things used to be really hard to find and get and so our brains were programmed to find them pleasurable, but now that sugar is so readily available, it’s become an insatiable and unhealthy desire. I can’t remember where I read about this, maybe Marion Nestle?

    My new year’s resolution was to try not to buy anything with HFCS or any multisyllabic ingredients I can’t pronounce. What I have discovered is that it’s really hard to do unless you make everything yourself from fresh ingredients, which is now what I’m trying to do. Although winter in NYC makes that difficult sometimes.


  48. I think a lot of the hype around the whole diet soda/metabolic syndrome thing has more to do with the fact that the vast majority of people who drink diet soda for the zero-calorie aspect are just going to go eat those calories in some other way. I drink one diet coke a day most weekdays, in a can, always in a can. . .I like the taste. I typically avoid soda on the weekends though and drink plenty of water/seltzer/beer/wine. . .
    Boylan’s sodas are sweetened with cane juice. . .and are quite tasty.
    Especially the Black Cherry:). Just picked some up yesterday.


  49. I don’t drink sodas at all. But I like the naturally flavored seltzer.
    I stay away from foods with preservatives, additives, and HFCs. I never eat processed foods.
    I’ve always steered clear of anything with ‘artificial’ on the label.

    Some of these things, to me, have just been common sense. The amount of sugar in processed foods is scary. Why would I put a preservative in my food, for me to digest and absorb? Fake sugar?

    I guess that makes me a crazy hippie. I’m down with that.


  50. Don’t know if anyone has mentioned this but Glaceau Vitamin Water & Fruit Water (I buy them at Safeway) are great – lots of different jummy flavours and all natural and full of vitamins. It makes drinking water a little bit more interesting. They’re made with cane sugar. Check out their website for the ingredients:


  51. Sorry to take over the comments, but I wanted to ask Morgan if she had any headaches, etc. when she quit her DC habit.
    Every time I have tried to cut back, I get really bad headaches.


  52. Take it over! I don’t mind one bit. I am learning vicariously.

    That’s most likely from the caffeine withdrawal. Same thing happens to me whenever I give up any coffee. It does go away but it’s a pain. Might be wrong about that, however. Anyone else have insight? Does DC have something else in it that might cause headaches when given up?


  53. This is making me tired … I’m going to go grab a (caffeine-free but only b/c I’m nursing and drink waaay too much coffee already) Diet Coke from the fridge.

    I have vowed to give them up by the time Ellie’s old enough to drink them.

    We’ll see.


  54. A 12oz diet coke only has about 45mgs of caffeine; an 8oz cup of coffee has anywhere from 80 to 300

    Caffeine content in beans vary. on average, robustas (which are cheaper, taste like burned rubber, and used for filler or crema in espresso) have twice the amount of caffeine as arabicas (which taste significantly better )… but within each type of coffee you have variations in the varietal and the terroir.

    caffeine content is also affected by brewing method… caffeine is one of the more resistant compounds to leave the bean, and favors heat to cold. so coldbrew has the least caffeine, drip , press, vacpot are in the middle, and percolation extracts something like 97%. Espresso only extracts about 75% of the caffeine.


    From my own personal experience as a caffeine addict who undergoes withdrawal very often, I can offer this insight:

    If I have a stretch of days where I’ve had 500+mg of caffeine ( usually in the 600-2200 range ), I will go through withdrawal significantly if I don’t keep caffeine in my bloodstream. By significant, I mean bad headaches where I want to die… but a cup of coffee makes them disappear within 30 minutes. Imagine that!

    On stretches where I drink less than 300mgs a day, I won’t have any withdrawl if i give it up.

    Sometimes I can use tea to counteract withdrawl… i seem to need at least 100mgs to do so ( ~40mgs in black tea, 15 in greeen tea ).

    People act differently.. I obviously have quite a tolerance. I don’t really see having 1 Cola per day could cause withdrawal… but most people I know who drink it have 2-4 cans a day. At those numbers, you’re either putting a lot of caffeine into your system at once, or you’re spreading it out through the day and keeping your levels pretty consistent . Both of those could cause withdrawal.

    So my non-scientific input is this: i’m suspect of 1-2 DCs giving you withdrawal, but if you’re one of those people who drinks a few sodas a day , every day—congrats and welcome to the caffeine addicts club.


  55. One other cane sugar (and relatively low sugar, too, which is good for people who like the fizz, but can’t handle things too sweet) soda I wanted to recommend is something called Grown-Up Soda. I think the bottles may just say GUS. Their dry cranberry and lime is one of the few sodas I consume on a regular basis. It also makes a great drink mixer!


  56. I used to drink a lot of Mountain Dew as a teenager, but that was really my only foray into mass consumption of soda. I

    As for artificial sweetners, we try to avoid them as much as possible, for health reasons as well as taste reasons. We avoid HFCS too. After being away from it for a while, I’ve noticed that if I eat something that contains it, I’ll get a headache. Both times I was pregnant, my husband would freak out and become hypervigilant about artificial sweeteners and other chemical additives.

    My now two-year-old hardly ever gets juice, mostly when he gets sick or as a special treat (or at grandma’s house, ha ha). When he was just starting to eat solids I asked my pediatrician if there was a certain amount of juice he should be getting (because I wanted to limit it) and he recommended that he not get juice at all. Since then he has mostly had water (and milk once he weaned from breastmilk at 15 months) and he loves water and drinks a lot of it. I think it will set the stage for him to drink water all his life.


  57. I had pica a while ago. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (which is correlational to obesity, i.e, they don’t know which causes which), and before I was diagnosed (I didn’t have health insurance, and Planned Parenthood diagnosed me as fat – um, thanks; this is why Planned Parenthood needs more funding. OK, off my soapbox), it was basically like being on my period for an entire year at a time. In short, I was losing blood like a stuck pig. I chewed ice in such copious amounts that I would bring one of those gigantor gas station mugs to work every day full of ice (no water), and have to refill it halfway through the day. I know this is off-subject, but there was some talk of pica in here. Oh, also, I am a diet soda addict – I quit for two months, and felt no better; in fact, I never got over the withdrawal. I don’t know if it was actual physical withdrawal, or psychological, or what, but I never didn’t want a Diet Coke. I quit after a coworker came over squawking about Diet Coke-drinkers don’t need to be embalmed when they die, because the Diet Coke has already done the job. That grossed me out enough to give it up cold turkey, but I couldn’t shake it for good. I don’t know if what she said was true, but it just doesn’t seem like a good idea. I think you guys have convinced me to give it another go.


  58. I live in a (some-what now well-known) town in Texas near Dublin where Dublin Dr. Pepper is available everywhere, and I love it! It is so neat to be able to go eat somewhere where they have Imperial Cane Sugar-sweetened Dr. Pepper on tap. If you love Dr. Pepper though, it makes it that much harder to limit yourself. Anyone can order some of this though, as mentioned in an earlier post, from

    Aspartame gives me headaches as well. I haven’t had aspartame since doing my research on the company Monsanto, which manufactures the chemical. They also created the artificial growth hormone (rBGH) that is given to milk cows to make them produce more milk. Needless to say, I have also drank organic or rBGH-free milk for years as well. If you are curious to learn more about this, do a search on “Monsanto” and see what you come up with, or go to:


  59. Nicole (another one): why not have fruit to kill the sweetness cravings, instead of either cola or a cookie, or the diet drinks? Just a thought.

    Mihow: Laura has been craving root beer too. But she won’t drink HFCS, so I’ve hunted and found a brand or two that makes it with cane sugar. Will examine the bottle tonight for the name.

    As for why HFCS is in everything, your answer further up was basically right: lobbyists, more or less. On behalf of agribusiness. Corn is the most widely grown crop in the US, and most of it’s grown by mammoth agribusinesses, and most of it’s no. 2 yellow corn which is utterly unsuitable for human consumption. So they either feed it to animals (like cows, which of course are ruminants and should never be eating corn in the first place; it makes them sick, for which they are then given antibiotics, etc etc etc—you know where that ends up), or the run it through a sh!tload of chemical processes to make byproducts like HFCS, guar gum, and a host of other stuff that gets thrown into processed food of all types. HFCS, for ex., is cheap as dirt and way sweeter than sugar, and it’s more or less the reason for the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemics in the US. And BTW, the best part is that most of its growth by these huge agribusinesses (we’re talking ConAgra here: just ginormous multinationals) is taxpayer subsidized. Yep, we pay them to grow this nasty stuff and feed it to us. We pay, that is, to make ourselves sick.

    Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” is an excellent and highly readable book that breaks the whole corn addiction down. (It’s worth noting that the corn used to make HFCS is mostly grown using nitrate-based fertilizers which are themselves petroleum products, so our addiction to HFCS fuels our addiction to cheap petroleum and on and on.)

    “Fast Food Nation” has some hair-raising stats about US consumption of soda.

    “Fat Land” gives a pretty intricate history of HFCS from its beginnings in the Nixon administration through recent days. It’s a great window onto the way our current business-political culture (in which government and business form an alliance to pretty much fleece the American public coming and going—remember that Nixon’s administration is where HMOs came from) was actually born in the Nixon era. Check it out: taxpayer dollars fund massive growth of corn to make HFCS which is put into soda, which people then drink lots and lots of ‘cause it’s super-cheap (thanks to subsidies). People then get sick and require the services of the privatized healthcare industry. Cha-ching! Coming and going. Gotta love a perfect circle.

    Personally, I drank lots of soda as a kid, like most of us. I didn’t drink a lot of it during my younger adult years, probably because I had to save room in the fridge for beer. But in the last 8 or ten years (coinciding, I guess, with a certain italian’s presence in my life) I haven’t had it. I hardly even think about it, ever, except as a subject of relentless television advertising. I don’t recall any big epiphany; it just sort of happened, which is maybe the coolest part of all. But since I read the kind of stuff I’m citing above, I’ve been pretty happy to have it gone from my life.


  60. Thank you everyone for so much awesome feedback, etc. I am going to look into the cane sugar sweetened sodas for sure. (When the cravings arise.) I think I drank Boylan when I was pregnant. (Brad, so funny Laura is craving Root Beer as well. I wonder if she’ll hit the pica at some point, too. Keep me posted on that one.)

    Someone brought it up above, I am currently reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” I love the book but man does it ever get me riled up. It makes me want to move back to PA or Maryland where I can grow my own stuff and raise chickens!

    Thanks again for all the feedback. I love it. Also going to check the mexican bodegas here in Greenpoint for some Mexicoke!


  61. I like sugar…. I really like sugar. Almost as much as I like butter.

    For the past decade or so, I’ve started my day with a cup of tea complete with milk and sugar. Not a huge amount of sugar, but certainly more than I need.

    So I’ve decided to give stevia a try. Sure this isn’t a soda or pop comment, but it’s something I’ve tried to do to reduce the amount of sugar I eat. Yes stevia has a taste, but it doesn’t really bother me.

    This whole idea of creating a chemical to mimic sugar creeps me right out. I purposefully avoid anything made with aspartame or any other sugar substitute that does originate from a plant.


  62. Um… that would be “does NOT originate from a plant”


  63. We really try to stick to low sugar foods in our house, despite my husband’s super sweet tooth. I went on a Splenda kick for about a year and then I heard about the bad stuff from my father-in-law (who is a scientist). It freaked me out too and I now avoid all artificial sweeteners. Which reminds me, what does everyone think of Truvia?

    As far as juice for my kids, I used to cut 100% juice with water, until I found a product recently that basically does it for me and serves it up in spill proof, reuseable sippy cups. First Juice is organic, and has 50% less sugar than 100% juice (but all the nutrients). Plus they have cool flavors like peach+purple carrot (not to mention the bottles are BPA free).


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