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

A. That’s right. I don’t. 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. Artificial sweeteners can contribute to compulsive eating, an increased craving for sweets and fatty foods, and an increase in weight.

Aspartame’s ingredients compete with Tryptophan and can block its conversion into serotonin; saccharin can cause an increase in one’s consumption of sweets.

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.