Anyone with a Diet Coke addiction understands criticism. I’m not a Diet Coke fan myself, but I have been known to drink between 1 and a million cans of Coke Zero in a day, so I feel comfortable saying that people need to stop telling me everything from “That stuff causes cancer,” to “That stuff rots your teeth,” to “That stuff is turning you into a super villain.” I’ve never actually heard the last one, but it’s just a matter of time before it happens, because the fact is, most of their arguments are outlandish and flat out bogus.
I’m not sure what is up with people’s preoccupation with judging me for drinking diet soda, but I must admit that ever since I made the sacrificial 30-something transition from real soda to diet soda, I’ve faced a surprising amount of criticism that I have a difficult time arguing against outside of offering up my middle finger.
I have to assume that those of you diet soda drinkers out there reading this are facing my same issue, and to you, I offer a collection of arguments for the consumption of Diet Coke compiled by Yvette d’Entremont and published on The Outline. It’s a pretty comprehensive list of diet soda arguments, and d’Entremont attempts to debunk them for the sake of getting Diet Coke naysayers off her back.
For example, she explains that there is only anecdotal evidence to support the theory that Diet Coke deadens your taste buds. This is an argument I’ve heard for years, and if it were true, I’d be eating ghost peppers like they’re Cap’n Crunch at this point. According to d’Entremont, “As for the claim that Diet Coke ‘deadens’ your tastebuds, only a handful of things actually kill your tastebuds or cause changes to your ability to taste. Oral diseases and certain types of medicines are known tastebud killers. But the main cause of tastebud demise is time.”
And of course, there’s the argument that Diet Coke causes cancer. According to d’Entremont, “[t]he sweetener in Diet Coke, aspartame (also marketed as Nutrasweet® and Equal®) is one of the most extensively studied chemicals that’s ever been approved for the food supply. No link has ever been established between aspartame and cancer.” You might be thinking these are alternative facts, but the National Cancer Institute is here to assuage your fears: “Questions about artificial sweeteners and cancer arose when early studies showed that cyclamate in combination with saccharin caused bladder cancer in laboratory animals. However, results from subsequent carcinogenicity studies (studies that examine whether a substance can cause cancer) of these sweeteners have not provided clear evidence of an association with cancer in humans. Similarly, studies of other FDA-approved sweeteners have not demonstrated clear evidence of an association with cancer in humans.”
D’Entremont goes on to debunk the purported links between depression and diet soda, tooth decay and diet soda, and diabetes and diet soda. And while I will admit that some of the sources in this article are not always 100% rock solid, she uses several government and university studies to build a pretty good case for those of you seeking fodder for the next time some judgmental assclown with a water bottle and organic deodorant tries to tell you all the dangers of your favorite beverage.
Because the fact is, you are an adult, and if you feel like consuming large amounts of artificial sweetener to get through the day, that’s up to you. Furthermore, if everything people have told me about diet soda were true, by now I’d be toothless, boneless, tasteless, depressed, and lumpy with cancer cells. However, I still have a full mouth of healthy teeth, strong bones, and good taste buds. And for the record, I’m also cancer-free. While writing this article I drank two cans of Coke Zero, and I’m actually happier now than when I started.
Frankly, I don’t need anyone’s passive-aggressive BS for indulging in a simple pleasure. As a working parent, Coke Zero tastes like I no longer want to park my minivan and run into the woods, and the last thing I need is judgment. I don’t really want to argue. I just want to drink my frosty zero-calorie beverage without someone telling me I’m killing myself. But that just never seems to happen, so now, at least, I have something to argue about if I feel up to it. I have a few facts in my back pocket that, if needed, I can shove in a co-worker’s smug face in the hope that they will go about their business, so I can go back to finishing that last sip of sweet, sweet Coke Zero.
And now watch as the comment section fills up with people telling me that soda will kill me and rot my teeth.