NO MATTER how many healthy habits are adopted and bad habits are left behind, ditching diet drinks can be one of the hardest addictions to give up. Diet drinks are used as a crutch to stave off hunger and boredom, as a recharge to make it through the work day, and as an agent to facilitate weight loss. The problem is that the practice of guzzling diet drinks harms your health in more ways than one.
Diet drinks, whether diet soda, tea or juice, contain toxic chemicals and artificial sugars including aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, acesulfame-k or sucralose. Research has found that these chemicals lead to an array of diseases and conditions including metabolic syndrome (belly fat, insulin resistance, high cholesterol and blood pressure), diabetes, preterm delivery, stroke, kidney failure and depression.
The worst part is that drinking diet drinks don’t even help you to lose weight. While free of sugar and calories, diet drinks are associated with double the risk of becoming overweight or obese. This is because they alter brain chemistry and hormones, leading to sugar and carbohydrate cravings, thereby changing the way calories are processed in the body. What’s more, diet drinks are strongly associated with an increased risk for breast, colon, endometrial, kidney, urinary, bladder and pancreatic cancers.
It’s quite clear that the risks of drinking those calorie-free beverages outweigh the benefits, so we’ve assembled a list of alternative beverages to help you through diet-drink rehab. Simply pick the healthier choice that resembles your favorite vice, and start feeding your body true nourishment!
Whether it’s the carbonation that you just can’t live without or the caffeine, there are a handful of diet soda alternatives to choose from. A few ways we get our carbonation fix is with kombucha, probiotic coconut water or homemade sparkling water drinks. Both kombucha and probiotic coconut water are excellent for improving digestion, boosting immunity and for cleansing the liver, but still have the carbonation to keep you satiated. We are also fans of the lighter mocktail: mix sparkling water with fresh pressed juice, like Pressed Juicery’s Citrus 3 made with grapefruit and mint. If you are in dire need of caffeine, reach for a naturally sweetened tea drink. Look for those that use honey, organic cane sugar (GMO-free) or stevia, and don’t have any added chemicals.
Green, black, oolong or white tea are all naturally caffeinated, giving you that extra boost of energy and focus. Tea has also been found to increase weight loss by stimulating the thyroid and ramping up metabolism. Simply choose a brand of tea that is either unsweetened, or one that uses a calorie-free, natural and safe sweetener like stevia, monk fruit (luo han guo), or erythritol. If you can’t take the extra caffeine jolt, drink yerba mate or rooibos tea – both energize the body without stressing the adrenal glands, leaving you feeling calm yet alert.
Juice contains calories by nature, but there are quite a few ways to keep the count low. The lowest-calorie juices are green juices that are primarily made with vegetables and minimal low-sugar fruits (like apples). You can also cut the juice with water, adding half filtered water and half juice. The good news is that the extra calories help you to lose weight not gain it. Green juice contains nutrients that not only increase fat burning, but also clear the body of toxins. We also find that drinking warm water with lemon, homemade flavored water, and raw coconut water are great alternatives to diet juices as well. Each are extremely hydrating, helping to fight fatigue and headaches while keeping your skin looking plump and glowing.