You pull into the drive-thru. As the voice crackles through the loud speaker, you scan the picture menu. The double cheeseburger catches your eye, leaves your mouth watering. Before logic, reason and health can beat down your craving, you find yourself ordering it and tacking on an extra-large fry for good measure. It’s wrong. You know this; you know that you will regret it later unless . . . unless you get a diet soda rather than a regular. Because then, you will have saved calories; you will have made up for the extra patty by drinking a zero-calorie, zero-fat and zero-sugar beverage. Health crisis averted!!
Or did you mean created?
The rationalizing that accompanies a full-fat meal with a diet coke on the side is not . . . rational, yet most people use it to assuage their guilt. They figure that a calorie-free drink will allow them to eat more. Polishing off the monstrous steak is okay, because the beer was forgone in favor of the dark, bubbly taste of artificial sweetener. That liquid sacrifice, it is theorized, will prevent health problems, but the truth is much different. The truth is that it’s actually adding to them.
A study of more than 9,000 middle-aged Americans found that diet soda significantly increased the risk of developing metabolic syndrome in a way that regular soda did not. It’s likely that this is the case because of the diet-soda rationalization. When individuals order a regular coke, they experience a little bit of remorse and so cut back on the other foods that lead to metabolic syndrome: red meat and fried fat. They don’t have the double cheeseburger or the French fries, both of which significantly increase your risk by 25 and 10 percent respectively.
If you truly want to remain healthy, don’t do so by ordering a diet coke with your Value Meal. Do it by not ordering the Value Meal, or pick a more health-conscious option. Try the grilled chicken, the salad, a different side or, at the very least, the one-patty burger. You don’t need both, just as you don’t need metabolic syndrome.