Q. I was told you don’t use diet drinks or sugar substitutes. I’m sure they can help me lose weight!

A. They may not in the long term. According to Dr. Appleton, author of the book Lick the Sugar Habit, the average American consumes 20 pounds of artificial sweeteners per year. Originally designed for weight loss, research shows that these substances actually increase appetite by stimulating the salivary glands, thus defeating their original purpose. Dietary consultants have told me that one of the first things they recommend to people who want to lose or maintain their weight is to stop using all soft drinks—especially those that are labeled as “diet” drinks.