The Task Tamer

A Diet Wrecking Ball

Teri 06/23/2014 Comments

If you are drinking a diet soda right now please put it down until after you read this blog. 


I have said before that a calorie in should be a calorie out. That means if you are trying to maintain your weight, calories in should equal calories out. To lose weight you have to burn more calories than you consume. This is pretty basic, so to make it a bit more challenging you have to know that not all calories are created equal. I could eat 1800 calories worth of Twinkies and that would fulfill my daily quota. However my body would be sending signals to my brain saying it is starving because the calories I consumed had no nutrients or vitamins. Empty calories leave you feeling empty. 


So you think having a diet soda with no calories is the perfect way to quench your thirst and not up your calorie intake. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition diet soda consumption has increased 25 percent over the last ten years. Coincidentally, waistlines have also increased. There are many reasons Americans are getting heavier and a study from Purdue University looked at why choosing food and drink sweetened with artificial additives could be contributing to this:


Research also shows that non-caloric or reduced-calorie food and beverages interfere with a body's learned responses. The assumption is that fewer calories means less weight gain. Research, including studies from Swithers and colleagues, shows that frequent consumption of high-intensity sweeteners may have the opposite effect by confusing the body's natural ability to manage calories based on tasting something sweet. 


In essence, when you drink a diet soda your brain sends signals to your body saying sugar is on the way! Produce insulin! So your body waits for the sugar to show up and it doesn't because artificial sweeteners are not metabolized the same as “real” sugar. So now your body sends a signal to your brain that says “Hey! No sugar showed up! We are all excited to process sugar! Send sugar!” So your brain tells you to eat more. In fact, a University of Texas Health Science Center study reported the following:


Diet soft drink users, as a group, experienced 70 percent greater increases in waist circumference compared with non-users. Frequent users, who said they consumed two or more diet sodas a day, experienced waist circumference increases that were 500 percent greater than those of non-users.


Hmmm, so perhaps “diet” soda needs a new name. Perhaps pudge pop? Think it will catch on? It shows once again that Mother Nature is still the best source for food. We need some sugar to maintain a healthy diet. Using man-made substitutes is not a good choice. Put away the pink and blue packets, put the “no sugar added” products back on the shelf and put down the diet soda. Stick to whole fruit and other natural sources and keep the amount low. Your body will be happy and no more signals to the brain to keep eating!


Here is another salad recipe that is awesome for warm weather (and no added sugar). It is a new take on Tabbouleh, that yummy dish made with lots of parsley and mint. It normally is made with bulgur, but this recipe uses quinoa so it is gluten-free. I did not have enough quinoa so I used a little Israeli couscous as well. Add whatever veggies you have on hand that you enjoy!



Toasted Quinoa Tabbouleh

adapted from Vegetarian Times


1 1/2 cups quinoa (any color), rinsed and drained

3/4 tsp. sea salt, divided

1/3 cup olive oil

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 small lemons)


2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

3 cups sugar snap peas, ends snipped and deveined

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups parsley, chopped

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup snipped chives

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

4 oz feta, crumbled

1 bunch arugula, washed and dried, divided among 4 plates



Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add quinoa and toast for 10 minutes, or until moisture evaporates and quinoa is fragrant, stirring constantly. (I toasted quinoa while waiting for the water to boil in next step).

Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil, add 1/4 tsp salt and then quinoa. Return to boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender and liquid absorbed. Fluff quinoa with fork and transfer to a bowl to cool.

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and remaining 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl.

Stir tomatoes and peas into cooled quinoa. Pour dressing over top and mix in well. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your preference.

Serve warm, at room temperature or cold over arugula and top each serving with 1 oz feta


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