Diet Soda Killed My Root Beer Habit

I’ve thought about writing this for one of posts for my “Becoming Healthy” blog project, and thanks to reading a related news article, I decided to finally do it!

Why Diet Soda Will Never Top the Real Thing

The above article was on the Real Clear Science Newton Blog this morning, and it hit on something I’ve totally noticed within myself and my eating habits.

Confession: I LOVE root beer.

I like going to specialty soda stores and trying out the various flavors. I get in discussions about the best bottled vs the best canned root beers.  I am adamant that sarsaparilla is NOT root beer.  I can tell the difference between a cane sugar and a corn syrup root beer.  I love root beer sweetened with honey.  My least favorite root beers are those that incorporate a black licorice flavor into the taste and bouquet of the soda.  I’m very particular about the quality of ice cream I will use for floats (No soft serve or vanilla bean for me!). Yeah, I love root beer.

My favorite can-buy-anywhere root beer:  A&W

My favorite dessert root beer: Henry Weinhard’s

My favorite overall root beer: Abita

My favorite float root beer: Stewart’s

And yet, if you’ve been following my blog, you know that in early May of this year I started a diet and exercise regime to get my body fat percentage back in control, and to feel better about myself and my appearance.  What room is there in my daily calorie budget for the occasional root beer?  Zero.

Delicious, foamy root beer

That doesn’t change the fact that I love root beer.  I’ve tried diet root beers in the past and without exception they were all terrible. Nothing redeemable about them whatsoever.  They all had a harsh chemically aftertaste that completely overpowers the flavors of the sassafras, vanilla, molasses, nutmeg & whatever else the brewer chooses to include.  I did find one exception though, and that is A&W 10.  It has a bit of that chemical taste, but overall the root beer flavor comes through pleasantly.  With my coach’s permission, and her assurance that all those rumors about artificial sweeteners messing with metabolism are not supported by scientific study, I bought a 12 pack for the occasional indulgence.

The last time I bought a 12-pack of root beer to keep in my office was back in February or March.  I noticed a funny thing happened.  I would crave a root beer around 2:00 or 3:00 pm, during the afternoon drowsys, and since there were plenty of cold root beers in my mini-fridge I’d have one.  The next day around the same time, I’d want a pick-me-up and the root beer craving would hit me bad, so I’d have one.  Then on the third day, I’d grab a root beer without even thinking about it.  Before I’d know it, my 12-pack was gone.

With the 12-pack of A&W 10, I let myself have one, but then the next day the craving never hit.  Three or four days went by and there were still 11 can in my fridge.  I’d have one with my lunch, but then the next day I was happy with a glass of water.  I find myself satisfied with the flavor, but indulging in one can leads to zero craving for a second root beer the next day. I think that speaks to the addictive nature of sugar.

Since there is no caffeine in most root beers the only addictive element in the soda is the sugar itself.  I occasionally drink Dr. Pepper, but since I’m not a coffee or tea drinker (obviously) and I’ve never had a period in my life when I had a daily indulgence in caffeinated soda I can drink caffeine for a pick-me-up, headache relief, or an overnight drive without developing a caffeine craving.  So I guess for me, at this point in my life, sugar is potentially more addictive than even caffeine is.

Well, I’ve been “sober” from refined sugar in both root beer and my favorite candies for almost 8 weeks now.  In a few months, when I finally get to a point that I’m satisfied with my body-fat percentage and overall health, I’ll need to be very careful about reintroducing full-sugared root beers and other sugar-heavy snacks into my diet so that they don’t become habit forming again.