One of the things I don't like about them is that is that, for me, they are addictive. I don't really want to like it that much. They're gross after I've stopped for a while ... but once I let them back in I start craving them.
I also noticed, after I'd been eating clean for a while and they snuck back in ... I swear they are like puppies. They look all cute and innocent outside. Then you bring a dozen home in a box and they start wrecking things. But you can't get rid of them that easily. So you're left asking yourself "What have I done?"
Where was I?
They also seem to weaken my resolve not to snack absentmindedly. For several months I was able to fix the girls lunches and snacks without grazing. I don't want unplanned snacks! Sure pretzels may be more healthy than chips ... but that's not generally how I want to spend my carbs for any given day.
How could this be?
I honestly think the answer is that the aspartame raises my insulin. The insulin then doesn't have the expected sugar to bind to and I experience hunger and cravings and a general "snackiness" that I could do without. While many of the negative studies revolving around diet soda causing weight gain have been disputed, I must say that for me personally things that make me ramble around my kitchen grumbling for a snack while the kids are eating (relatively healthy) things that I didn't plan for in my day ... it could lead to weight gain.
While my hypoglycemia isn't something I talk about a lot, it is very real. Anything that causes an insulin spike and following sugar crash is bad news. I get hangry ... I make bad decisions. It's like I'm Queen Eleanor when she turns to a bear. I stand and shake in the kitchen and rage at my loved ones and just really want to plop down and eat a snack. Snacking is great! That kind of snacking is not.
Although no study has shown a definitive link between insulin levels and aspartame, to me there is enough of a link that, paired with my clinical (real life) experience ... I must be in the 40% who do show an insulin spike when we trick our body with something artificially sweetened.
Arrhythmia is listed by the FDA as a side effect of aspartame. Atrial fibrillation runs on my mom's side of the family, so I really feel like it is a good idea to stay away from anything that affects heart rhythms. I have noticed a correlation myself with diet soda and heart palpitations. My first thought was the caffeine, but I haven't experienced it with other caffeinated drinks like coffee and green tea.
There is also the issue of phosphoric acid, which may be linked to lowered bone density. Both of my grandmothers had osteoporosis. Given that I do weight bearing exercises and try to get plenty of calcium along with other vitamins and minerals that aid in its absorption, this may not be a big issue with one soda a day ... but in my mind it is another strike against having a daily cola.
Plus, there are alternatives. I have rediscovered how enjoyable a nice cup of green or herbal tea is during the refresh as their were options to have it three times a day! It can be a good pick-me-up or an enjoyable drink to wind down with after the little ones go to bed. Hibiscus has been one of my favorites. Plus, many teas have been reported to have added health benefits.
I've also heard a lot about La Croix sparkling water drinks. They aren't artificially sweetened or flavored! I may actually try some. I checked out their website and the frequently asked questions about their ingredients and I don't see any red flags at this point. Plus its made in the USA!
In the end, if you are following clean eating to a T, this isn't even an issue - it isn't allowed. For me it falls under 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 1 Corinthians 10:23... to me, there just aren't enough benefits for me to continue to drink it. But it isn't easy for me to give it up despite my good reasons for doing so.