Deferred gratification, the ability to forgo a small reward now to obtain a larger reward later, is an important element of self-control and, to some degree, this is an important mindset to have for anyone with Type 2 diabetes. Scientists at the University of North Dakota have found that drinking diet soda undermines self-control, and ironically, may predispose Type 2 diabetics and dieters to eating too much and gaining weight… which they then try to take off later, again with diet sodas.
The North Dakota research team recruited students and offered them seven payouts, a smaller amount of money at the time of the experiment, or a larger amount of money at a later date. (Students, of course, tend to need money now rather than later, but this reality may have been considered in the research protocol). They took the students’ blood sugar levels before and after the study, and then they offered the students either a diet drink, flavored with aspartame, or a regular soda, flavored with sugar.
Research showed: The scientists found that the students who drank diet soda tended to want to take the money and run. Students who drank the sugar-sweetened soft drink… more often opted for more money at a later time. The researchers believe that a combination of sweet taste and nil calories sends a signal to the brain of the possibility of a future calorie crisis, that somehow food is not providing the nutrients the body needs and it is essential to eat more.
This anxiety about the future may spill over to decisions regarding self-control and deferred gratification. The North Dakota scientific team believes that these findings may be relevant to understanding anxiety, depression, and gambling addiction. Type 2 diabetics who rely on artificially sweetened drinks may keep these findings in mind, especially if they know they have issues with impulse control.
Diet soda: As you know regular sodas and sugary drinks are connected to obesity… but what about diet sodas. Sugar substitutes such as Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet and more, are certainly marketed as weight-loss aids, but the research into their effectiveness is mixed. A small number of studies show switching to diet drinks can help you lose some weight but drinkers of diet soda are typically heavier than the general population. That could be due to the fact they were:
- overweight to begin with and began drinking diet soda to held them lose weight, or
- as some researchers have suggested, because they taste sweeter than sugar, artificial sweeteners actually train your taste buds to prefer very sweet foods.
This in turn drives you to eat more sweets… and calories or kilojoules.
So what can you drink:
- sparkling water (plain or calorie-free flavored)
- unsweetened ice tea
- hot tea
Caffeine can raise the blood sugar level in some people, so if your blood sugar level rises consistently after tea or coffee, changing to decaffeinated tea or coffee will help with lower blood sugar levels.