For about a full decade of my life, I was a full fledged Diet Coke addict.
It was a part of who I was — I cracked open a can first thing in the morning, friends sent me Buzzfeed articles about things only Diet Coke addicts could understand, I had a little Diet Coke keychain and a Diet Coke mousepad, and my family I would send each other level red, full blown SOS texts when the fridge was running low. I was drinking 2-3 cans a day, plus fountain (my preferred delivery of choice) whenever I could get my hands on it, and I really had no true interest in stopping.
And then, suddenly, I did.
On March 1st of 2016 I started a one month Diet Coke free month while in Thailand, and on April 1st I decided what the heck — I extended another two weeks until I flew through the USA. After six weeks, the spell was broken, and I no longer feel powerless over the pull of the silver can.
So why cut the cord? I admit, of the many reasons people kick Diet Coke habits, I did so for pretty superficial reasons. I wasn’t getting headaches, or staining my teeth, or having any negative health repercussions — yet, anyway. But I was trying desperately to lose ten pounds that had creeped on slowly, and the connection between diet sodas and out-of-whack metabolisms and insulin production are hard to ignore. The more I learned the more convinced I became that a trial period without it was something I needed to try.
But in addition to hoping to drop some weight, it was also at times a very inconvenient addiction and I hated feeling so beholden to a particular can of fizz. When I woke up in the morning, it was the first thing I drank, and I was cranky and irritable all day when I couldn’t source it — which was fairly often, considering I often travel to remote areas, and diet sodas are still rare in many corners of the world.
At the time, I searched pretty desperately for first-hand accounts those who were also trying to kick a soda habit, and came up surprisingly empty. So, my carbonation loving friends, here is mine.
My uncle — who once ran a Coca Cola museum! It runs in the fam!
How I Did It
I never intended to cut Diet Coke out of my life entirely. Drinking Diet Coke was so much a part of both my daily routine and my identity I don’t think I ever could have started had that been my intention. Yet after years of trying to casually “cut back,” I knew I had to do something drastic if I ever wanted to make it a reality.
Today, I am no longer addicted to Diet Coke and that is all thanks to the initial six week cleanse in which I did not consume a single sip (more about my current consumption later.) In fact, it started as just a month long challenge which I extended for two weeks based on how good I felt! That cleanse was completely necessary to sever my dependence to the stuff and allow me to start living with a normal, non-crazy person’s relationship with soda after it ended.
I should probably note that Diet Coke was the only soda I ever really drank — I think Coca Cola tastes repulsive and outside of the rare diet root beer or craft soda on some sort of special occasion (hello, artisanal sodas at a county fair!), Diet Coke and I had a pretty monogamous relationship.
Everyone warned me about the withdrawal symptoms I’d have. Aside from a few terrible headaches the first few days, I actually didn’t find the physical side-effects to be too dramatic. I attribute the ease with which this cleanse went to these steps:
1. I did a ton of research
Once I decided to do the cleanse, it was actually pretty easy in practice. And that steely resolve was inspired by research I did as part of my DIY Health Retreat.
Documentaries like Fed Up and books like What Are You Hungry For? really spoke to the specific reasons I was personally looking to cut back — vanity, duh. They dove into how aspartame disrupts the body’s metabolism and craving systems and leads to unintentional weight gain, despite being zero calories. I was also recently recommended the documentary Sweet Misery, which I plan to watch on the plane back to the US to strengthen my resolve for another addiction-free summer.
Also, I read several interviews with skinny people — LOL — who said that they never drink diet sodas, and message board accounts from those who dropped pounds doing so. In the spirit of full disclosure I also read a ton of comments and message board posts from those who quit and never lost a pound, but everyone who did so seemed to feel it had a positive impact on their life.
Now look, it’s not like until last year I was walking around thinking Diet Coke was this super healthy product that I was treating my body like a temple by consuming. Not in the slightest — I knew Diet Coke was bad for me and I literally did not care, at least not enough to make me change. Thankfully, in this case, my desperation to lose a few pounds led me down an unlikely path that has had a holistic and positive effect on my life.
2. I told my friends
So strong was my resolve that the only serious cravings I had in those first six weeks were the two times I was tragically hungover. And because I had already told my friends what I was doing and they knew how important it was to me, they stopped me from giving in, reminding me how proud I’d feel when I hit the four — and then six — week mark.
3. I replaced it with something else
One of my primary concerns going into this cleanse was that Diet Coke made up the vast majority of my beverage consumption. Like literally, what was I going to drink?! Because in those days the only water I consumed was what I had while I was working out. Well, I now drink tea like it’s going out of style, as well as one or two carbonated waters per day and a TON more straight up tap water than I’ve ever drank in my life. Let’s get into each of those:
I have never been a tea drinker and so I did a bunch of research to find out which teas had caffeine — which I wanted — and which I would actually like. I absolutely loathe black tea, still to this day (sorry, Brits) but found green tea sort of tolerable, so I started out by putting one green tea bag into a mug with another herbal flavor that I enjoyed more, like lemongrass. For the first week or two of my cleanse, I sweetened my tea with local honey, though I quickly phased that out and I now drink my tea straight up, no sweetener.
A year later, I am a complete and total tea fiend and start every day with a mug of green tea rather than a Diet Coke, and usually go for an herbal tea over ice in the afternoon. I love trying new flavors — this brand from Hawaii is a recent obsession.
I have struggled my entire life to drink water. My cleanse kick started a new habit in which I drink more than ever. I generally try to drink a full 17 oz. bottle between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and dinner, and whenever I work out. Combined with my carbonated water at meals and my morning and afternoon tea, I now easily exceed the recommended 64 oz. per day without too much trouble.
My recommendation? Get a fun, easy-to-drink stainless steel bottle that you love and will want to take everywhere, and have a jug or filter in your fridge so you have easy access to cold, ready-to-go tap water anytime. If you live somewhere with great water you can literally just use a nice pitcher, if you live somewhere where drinking tap water isn’t advisable — like I do — I highly recommend this Clearly Filtered Pitcher, which filters all bacteria, viruses, and other no-nos.
Or seltzer, or if you’re here in Thailand, soda water. To this day I can’t stand to drink straight up tap water with meals, it just doesn’t feel right. Seltzer is literally just regular water infused with air, and is just as safe and hydrating to drink as regular water (though studies do show it can be slightly more filling, and does have some extremely mild effect on dental health.)
So I now have unflavored seltzer with pretty much every single lunch and dinner. When I’m in the US, I sometimes go wild with the naturally flavored ones. I drink so much of the stuff I’m thinking of getting a seltzer machine like my mom has at home, and bringing it with me back to Thailand.
4. I did it somewhere away from the USA
I know this probably isn’t exactly replicable for most people, but it was a huge factor towards my success. Doing the Diet Coke cleanse in Thailand, where I’m not a fan of the local formula, made it so much easier than had I tried it stateside. If you can find some way — any way! — to shake up your routine, I think that will make all the difference in helping you to snap out of deeply ingrained habits.
While you may not want to mar a trip or vacation with withdrawal symptoms, starting a few days before you leave and your enthusiasm is still strong and arriving in a new destination just as your willpower might be wearing off could be the perfect way to distract yourself. (And ya know, now that I added this, it’s totally relevant fodder for a travel blog! Nailed it!)
5. Make a calendar
I actually didn’t do this, but if I started to struggle or stumble I would have bought or printed out a calendar, and marked off each day I made it without Diet Coke. I always find tracking and visual aids to be incredibly effective in helping me meet goals and stay strong through a challenge.
What I Learned
I have always considered myself to have an insane sweet tooth and ravenously consumed candy, desserts and all kinds of sugary goodness on a near-daily bases. Very quickly after giving up Diet Coke, those cravings all but disappeared. I still loved my sweet treats but I noticed that I didn’t HAVE to have them, and so throughout the course of my cleanse they were more of an actual occasional treat instead of a daily obsession. I even noticed my cravings for/consumption of things like bread and pasta subsided.
It was somewhat disorienting to realize that this thing I thought was just a core part of who I was was actually induced by a chemical I’ve been consuming daily for the last decade and a half. Some researchers believe artificial sweeteners like the aspartame in Diet Coke actually fuel the brain’s desire for the real thing, and after six weeks, I agreed with them.
Today, recognizing that my cravings are at least partially a result of choices I’ve made has actually been incredibly empowering. When I’m perusing 711 for snacks before a late night work session, I can no longer grab a bag of M&M’s with the excuse that, “Well I’m just a sweet-tooth having, sugar-loving fiend and there’s nothing I can do to change it!” Instead I think, “Well, I’m craving candy right now because I made the choice to have Diet Coke with my lunch. I can choose to go for it, or I can choose to have a banana instead.” It actually feels really good.
No, I didn’t drop a dress size. But I did find a new awareness of what was fueling my cravings. And as someone who considers herself to have like, zero willpower, it was kind of cool to set such a lofty goal and not just meet but exceed it.
One Year Later
Like I said earlier, I never intended to give up Diet Coke entirely — and I didn’t. Some warned that after six weeks I wouldn’t be able to stand a sip of the stuff, and I can assure you that did not happen. But I do feel like I have a normal, non-psycho person’s relationship with Diet Coke now, and that is a beautiful thing.
For the most part, I probably average about a can a week. When I’m extremely stressed and sleep deprived, I definitely fall back into a can a day. But that has only happened a couple times and within a few days I actually now see it as a big red flag I’m waving at myself — whoa girl, pull in the reigns on your life. Something isn’t right.
I split my year between Thailand and the US, and I admit that it’s much easier to go without here in Thailand, where I never even really liked the local formula but drank it out of pure dependence. In the US, I still love the taste of the stuff, especially the fountain version, and so it is much harder to avoid — especially because when I’m stateside I bounce between staying with various family members who are all still hardcore hooked.
What I tried experimenting with last summer was not allowing myself to drink cans at home, and instead only treating myself to fountain Diet Cokes when I was out and about running errands. Therefore it felt more like a special treat that I savored every second of, and less like something I was mindlessly downing out of habit. If I’m staying in a house where I have any input over what’s in the fridge, I keep it Diet Coke-free to avoid the temptation.
While there are definitely certain locations that tempt me to spiral out of control again (hello, my mom and dad’s houses!), overall I feel incredibly free from my old aluminum shackles. It kind of grosses me out now to think that in the past I would drink Diet Coke out of a plastic bottle, or even, heaven forbid, the occasional fountain Diet Pepsi at a restaurant — thing I literally don’t even like — just because I was so hooked.
It feel so good to go to a four day festival where there’s no diet version of Coke and not lose my shit. It feels so nice to stay at a resort that stocks Pepsi (gross) and not freak the flip out. It feels very freeing to no longer wake up in the morning, bug out that the fridge is empty, and disrupt my day by sprinting to the closest minimart to stock up before my dang morning can start.
While breaking my Diet Coke addiction didn’t make me the size zero supermodel I had hoped — just kidding, there are no catwalks in the future of this 5’2″-er — it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. It made me feel empowered, it removed a frequent hassle from my life, and it was a major game-changer in the healthier lifestyle I am always trying to cultivate.
Are you a current or reformed diet soda addict? Tell all in the comments!
Please note I know there are a lot of different opinions out there about food and addiction and if you happen to disagree with what I write here, please know it isn’t meant to offend you — I’m just sharing my own personal experiences and thoughts, and I respect that other people’s will be different! Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments.
Want to learn more about the science behind Diet Coke addiction? This article is a good place to start.
Hey – good for you! I am not a diet soda addict, I’m a regular soda addict – Mt Dew, which is possibly the worst. When I’ve tried quitting in the past (usually before a big backcountry trip) I have taken Green Tea pills for the caffeine and also Water Joe…caffeinated water! Alas, I think it’s more about the sugar than the caffeine for me. Not even ridiculous dental bills seem to deter me!
Whoa, I’ve never heard of Water Joe! Yeah, giving up caffeine wasn’t a priority for me so teaching myself to like green tea was the perfect solution. And now I really do love it — but mostly the hybrid kinds, like spearmint green tea or jasmine green tea. Or if I can’t find those, I blend them myself by using two bags! I feel like for me it was a combo of caffeine (I don’t drink coffee so it was my only source), sugar, and just the ritual of it.
And I FEEL YOU on the dental bills. I’ve had an embarrassing amount of cavities.
Congratulations on kicking a bad habit! I know soda isn’t very expensive to buy, but with the amount you were drinking, it had to add up to a decent amount each month. Nice to get on a healthy track and save some money. I rarely drink soda, but I’ve always HATED all things diet, I feel like they taste so artificial. I’d go regular Coke any day, but the only time I ever have a soda craving is when I’m hung over; and agree that fountain sodas are the way to go! Keep up the good work!! 🙂
Absolutely, that is a factor. Considering I now buy a ton of tea and soda water, I still do spend money on beverages, but it’s certainly much cheaper! (Soda water is about half the price of Diet Coke here in Thailand.) It’s funny that hangovers seems to kick off cravings in so many of us, why is that?!
Thanks for this post! I’m always struggling with my Diet Coke habit and am taking this as motivation. I’ve been trying to limit myself to one a day, but it’s a hard craving to kick. Congrats and thanks for the encouragement!
Thank you! I know how hard a habit it is to kick, clearly — good luck!
Hi Alex, Thought you might be interested in a green tea I have been drinking. I’m not a soda drinker but I am trying to lose 10 lbs as well. The country of origin is Thailand, too. It really helps tame cravings and aids in weight loss. It’s called “Integra Tea”. The company is Immortalitea. It is one of their Wellness Collection teas. Check out their website. I drink it iced. I think you would really like it. It is light and refreshing and very satisfying. congratulations on kicking the Diet Coke addiction! 🙂
Thanks Patrice! I’ll check that one out! Now that I drink tea I love checking out new types 🙂
Congratulations! well it’s going to be hard to keep my fridge Diet Coke free when you come for a visit but I will do my best. Weaning my self down on the volume I consume but not intending to ever go Diet Coke free….I mean really. Love Dad
Well we can’t deny ourselves all joy in life 😉 I will tell you I think I enjoy and savor them more now that they are a more rare treat. And I still have my Diet Coke keychain! When I was dogsitting Tucker last summer I just never put the Diet Coke in your fridge and that was enough deterrent, since I feel like it goes flat if I put it over ice from a can. But I DEFINITELY got some every time I went through the Chipotle drive-through!
Kudos to you!! That takes a lot of hard work and willpower, and I know that first hand. Years ago, I noticed I was eating a LOT of chocolate (far more than necessary), so I gave it up for a year… for one, to prove I could break my addiction of it, and two, to complete another New Years Resolution (‘stick to at least one New Years resolution for at least one year’). I managed it, broke my addiction to it, and eat far less than I once did. It was a very empowering feeling to last the year and prove to myself I was strong enough to do it.
Nice, kudos to you too Marni! It’s really nice to still enjoy the treats we love and not feel powerless over them.
What an interesting read. My name is Gemma and I am a sugar addict. I’ve never been one for fizzy juice but man alive I make up for it in jelly sweets, chocolate and biscuits. Every now and then I get a grip and have a week off then gain control again but it’s tough. I like your view about the m+ms, it really is just (bad) habit. Can I recommend liquorice tea! Also for hangovers, I’m loving these hrydrarion tablets you drop into water, got me through Snowbombing.
Girl I feel you! That will be another post I hope someday because I too am a sugar addict 🙂 Cutting down on Diet Coke definitely helped curb the compulsion, but I still LOVE sweets. I try to go for coconut water instead of Diet Coke these days for a hangover but… sometimes it ends up being both 😉
OK, since Dad is going to keep his fridge DC free, I guess I will, too. Thanks a lot, JB!
Really, this topic hits home. Today I was out of DC and it was messing with my day…Not good! Having a seltzer maker does help. I realize that the carbonation is part of what I itch for.
Keep up the healthy focus, great work!
That is the worst! Honestly, I was so sick of my days being ruined because of a can of soda (or lack thereof). It shouldn’t be a make or break-er!
Good for you for quitting! I’m not really addicted to any drink, although I do love Chai Tea a few times a week. I actually recently read an article that Diet Coke in excess could cause dementia and brain defects later in life- good thing you are diet free now! I admit that I love coming home from school on a friday and grabbing an ice cold Diet Coke to enjoy.
Ha yeah I’ve seen all those articles and how sad that it was the thought of dropping a size that actually got me to cut down so drastically. Lol. Well, whatever gets you past the finish line!
You did good, took me a while way back when to stop drinking Coke
It can be quite the habit to kick! I’m grateful that I pretty much snapped out of my addiction in one try, though like I said I occasionally backslide, it hasn’t been anything I can’t snap back out of again.
I wasn’t a tea drinker until I did a cleanse too! Now I like to buy fruity flavoured teas and leave them in the fridge overnight and drink them. Some are so sweet already they taste like juice and no sugar! ?
Me too! I always make my morning cup and then immediately make my afternoon one and stick it in the fridge so it’s ready to go for the mid-day Thailand heat 🙂 Two-years-ago me would DIE OF SHOCK to hear that today-me drinks tea straight up, no sweetener!
I never realized you were so addicted to it. I cannot stand Coke- regular or diet – only have it after an endurance event like a half marathon or 100km cycle race or if severely hungover and have a hockey match in Hong Kong summer. Then I can’t usually finish it.
Well done on kicking the addiction ! Not to mention no longer tossing away a bunch of cans or plastic bottles into the bin every single day!!! That’s my biggest driver for drinking tap water. I have no waste after
Indeed, that was always nagging on my mind (I used to joke that my future home would have a soda fountain installed in the kitchen). Of course, I do everything possible to recycle but you can never be 100% sure where things end up, and it’s wasteful to produce in the first place. The soda water I drink here in Thailand comes in glass bottles that are re-bottled, so I feel a little less guilty about that. The packaging on some of the tea I buy here though is really ridiculous and wasteful.
Your article on Diet Coke hit close to home. I was also addicted to it (one can a day). I hate Pepsi, Coke etc. but love Diet Coke. I’ve managed to drop down to 3 cans a week. Being in Asia has made it easier as many restaurants and vending machines are Pepsi only. But I’m on my way back to the States – let’s see if I can still maintain the pace of 3 servings a week.
Good luck to you! I agree it’s easier in Asia… I literally can’t believe that even McDonald’s in Bangkok doesn’t have fountain Diet Coke! (Can you feel my indignation?! Ha ha.)
I just love how many diet coke/coke photos you seem to have amassed over the years 🙂 And congrats on making this healthy change, isn’t it the best feeling when we set our minds to something and then achieve it?
Lol — the funny thing is when I was putting this post together I was like, this doesn’t seem like NEARLY ENOUGH Diet Coke pictures considering all my years of loyal fandom!
Great job Alex, that’s a huge thing to do!! Improving your nutrition is always hard, and as someone who has the exact same attitude towards sugar and carbs as you say you do, I completely understand xD I’ve noticed that you quite often dive into challenges that you consider yourself “not good at” or “not who you are,” and I think that’s really awesome, you’re doing the hard work to make yourself better and not just accepting that you’re a certain way. That’s a good ethic to have!
Hey Ijana, thank you for saying that about me challenging myself to things I don’t consider myself good at — I hadn’t thought of that pattern before and I think it’s a great compliment, so thank you for pointing it out to me!
I can’t imagine it being easy, I’m impressed! Good job! I consider myself lucky because I never liked sodas (or pop), my parents had a glass every night for dinner so it was always around but it made my nose tickle haha!
Ha, my parents are TOTALLY hooked on the stuff and that’s where my love came from… I remember as a little kid begging to drink “just the foam!” whenever they poured a glass. It’s our family vice!
Currently trying to kick a food-related addiction and it is proving to be much more difficult than suspected. Every day is a new day and a new chance, so that is always a motivating thought for whenever I cave. It is never too late to jump back on the wagon. Congratulations on your success!
So true! And while weight loss and some results can be really painfully slow to achieve, I find that when I make positive diet changes I do FEEL IT almost immediately. Instant gratification for good choices 🙂
Great article. Very funny too.
I can imagine that in Thailand it is much easier to drink water instead of diet coke.
The heat alone is definitely quite motivating!
Long time reader, first time commenting. I kicked a Diet Coke habit last fall because I didn’t like feeling like I had to have a Diet Coke everyday… and I feel so much better not craving it anymore! Thanks for writing such inspiring posts – I’m constantly adding destinations to my bucket list because of you!
Hey Lindsay! Thanks for saying hi! I agree that for me the worst “effect” of being hooked on Diet Coke was the craving itself. I hated feeling so beholden to something! Kudos to you for doing the same 🙂
Love this – so many things I can relate to! The comment about a resort only stocking Pepsi (seriously, can’t drink the stuff) made me laugh because I definitely had a moment like that at the resort I stayed at in Mexico this year. Thanks for all of the tips! 🙂
It’s like… why?!? I absolutely love the righteous indignation of soda addicts when a destination stocks the wrong drink. Lol!
Congratulations on becoming more independent now! I have never been into sodas, so I never realized how serious this addiction could be until I read this.
Count yourself lucky, Rekha 🙂 As you can see from the comments, it’s not an easy habit to kick!
Good for you Alex! And props on waiting a long time to share… sometimes one wants to make sure it sticks.
I did a holistic wellness diet in 2009 to figure out my food issues (all I knew was that I felt sick to my stomach multiple times a week, and often brain foggy) and it is hard.
Sugar and wheat have never come back into my life in the same way. In the US there’s so much sugar in everything… My current Modus Operandi is “The closer it is to the sun, the better”. This actually helps me when I travel.. keeps me away from overly processed stuff that ultimately makes me feel crappy later. Mind you… I eat bread in Paris, but it’s Good Bread. Which apparently makes a difference…
I’m rambling. Short of it is: little changes lead to bigger ones. Good for you, lady!
Thank you! And yup, I was so excited about this I wanted to write about it the minute those six weeks were over but in retrospect I’m so glad I waited; I had so much more to share about the journey a year later.
Kudos on quitting! Any advice on quitting sugar in general – I’m a total addict!!! Also — be honest, is this the reason Coca Cola just laid off a few thousand people 😉
Ha! Oh my gosh — I actually didn’t know about that. Though yeah, I probably drank enough to keep at least a few people employed… hope they find new work soon.
The juxtaposition of your quitting journey and your many (many!) Diet Coke-lovin’ pics had me laughing out loud. Good for you, girl. I fear I’m shackled to Red Bull for life…
Red Bull makes me feel like I’m having a heart attack! I used to drink it with vodka frequently… but it really doesn’t feel nice on the ‘ol ticker, lol.
As a raging Coca-Cola addict myself, you inspire me. Thanks … might have to try to kick my habit again now!
Good luck Chad! It’s nice not to feel shackled to any sort of habit!
I relate to your post as I gave up Coke Zero cold turkey two months ago. I had a serious addiction of 2-3 litres A DAY and have drunk Diet Coke or Coke Zero for 20 years. Anyone who knew me knew I loved the stuff! I tried cutting down several times but this time I gave up completely. I now drink soda water with a dash of Robinsons sugar-free concentrate to flavour it (I live in Bangkok). It’s good to not be addicted anymore….I think!
Kudos to your girl! I cannot BELIEVE how my taste buds have changed, to go from honestly kind of loathing green tea and tolerating plain soda water to craving and loving both. It makes me wonder what other changes my body and taste buds are capable of. By the way, I LOVE the crazy carbonation in Singha soda water! It’s like, the most carbonated beverage I’ve ever had anywhere in the world, ha ha. Oh, Thailand!
Congrats on kicking the habit Alex! I’m not a diet soda drinker but I am an insane seltzer water drinker. Back in California I had my own seltzer machine, and it was literally my favorite thing I owned. I drank copious amounts of it all day long. And could even make it extra fizzy! I loved that machine. I miss it dearly here in Asia. I even considered moving it out here with me, but I’m not sure I how would refill the canisters. And I didn’t have room to pack a ton of them with me… But at least there’s canned carbonated water at my local corner store here in Beijing 🙂
Ah, good point about the canisters. I didn’t think about that when considering bringing one back here with me in the fall, ha ha. I guess I’ll just have to enjoy one while I can this summer!
My fellow recovered addict!! I have always admired your ability to run at challenges so BRAVO for doing it once again.
It sounds like you’re well aware of a lot of the issues with diet coke. There is so much scary information out there about artificial sweeteners and processed food in general that I am personally only comfortable staying as close to nature as possible these days. Our food system looks nothing like it did 50 years ago & is unrecognisable from our diet 100 years ago. I think it’s pretty clear the health issues that have risen to epidemic levels — cancer, autism, alzheimer’s, ADHD, food intolerance, type 2 diabetes, auto immune diseases, obesity — many of which were extremely rare just a generation ago, show us our lifestyles and all we’re exposed to in modern industrial life are having disastrous consequences. That said, my dad is a lifelong diehard diet coke drinker (guess where I got it from) who thinks nothing of swigging at a 2 liter plastic bottle right before bed & is the literally the healthiest, most energetic 70 year old I have ever met!
We’re all different with varying abilities to cope with the potentially toxic agents we consume. I think it’s easy to shrug off an article about potential health risks when we’ve never been sick ourselves. I was that way for much of my life. Then I got hit with a mysterious chronic health condition that made me examine everything. Did diet coke contribute to my predicament? Who knows! Because our food system is so new, we’re just in the beginning stages of understanding how all of these chemicals, additives, excess sugar, excess omega 6 fats etc. are affecting us. Plus, causality when it comes to illness is such a complicated thing. You read an article that says “Aspartame linked to Alzheimer’s” & think well, aspartame must cause alzheimer’s, I’ll just avoid that and be good. But from what I understand, the recipe for illness has many, many ingredients including your own genetic and bacterial makeup and lifestyle along with everything we – and the world – add to our systems. So in light of this, going back to my original point, what seems like the safest route – FOR ME, at this present time, because we’re always evolving – is to stick with a whole foods, plant-based diet that’s low on the pesticides & high in healthy fats (coco oil, olive, oil, avocados etc)…
PLUS the odd pint of course! God, what kind of a puritan do you think I am? Basically, we do what we think is best with the information we have at the time! It’s such a complex world, in some ways more so than ever before. Good luck out there Alex. Beware of slipping into those DC binges during times of stress. Reading this reminded me of my many relapses during stressful periods before actually quitting FOR GOOD. And I look forward to more health-related posts! x
One more thing! (let’s be honest, I have 20 more things but trying to restrain myself here) Like you, I also started replacing the fizz with way more water AND while you took up tea, I took up coffee though not at all as a conscious replacement. In retrospect, I guess it was. While coffee has its own controversies, it also has a ton of health benefits which one cannot say for our naughty friend!
Girl, I agree with you on so many points. There is no way to look at our health crisis and health care crisis in North America and not link it with what is clearly a deeply broken food system.
Also, you make a good point about our abilities to process and cope with various toxins. I never, ever had any negative side effects from drinking Diet Coke — no headaches, no sore stomach, nada — which made it easy to shrug off for so many years. Unfortunately/fortunately, I have the same reaction to sugar: none. I could eat a piece of cake and go to the gym. I almost wish I had some immediate consequences… it’s harder to correlate the longer term ones like weight gain the next time you see a delicious slice.
I do admit though, that while my doctors VEHEMENTLY denied it, I always wondered if there might be some correlation between my fibroadenomas and my Diet Coke consumption. I guess I at least have one less thing to blame myself for if another one appears.
I could’ve written this post myself…up to the quitting part. The worst is waking up in the morning and feeling like you have to run to the nearest store for a cold can. The weird thing is, if I’m out of town, I rarely drink it because I’m either drinking water or wine since I’m on vacation. So it seems like a “home” thing, and I could still drink it at a restaurant or special occasion if I wanted to. I have a few more left in the fridge but think this could be the push I need, so thanks for writing about it!
Haha, I love that on vacation you’re drinking “water or wine.” Yup, the early morning run to the corner store is the worst. Became such a hassle so many times in my life, I swear that was one of my biggest motivations to quit. Laziness. Ha ha. Well, whatever gets your to the finish line I guess!
I also decided to stop drinking soda as a “preventive measure”, and can proudly say that I haven’t had one for over a year (the last one I drank was in Vietnam while traveling, and only because it was included on the menu).
I’m no longer tempted to drink soda but the sound of an opening can *PSSSST ACK* still triggers me. lol
Now, more than craving to drink a coke again, I want to see how far can I get by without touching one.
Kudos, Mario! I’m not interested in giving it up long term, but it’s so nice not to be addicted any more. Very impressed by all of you who have given it up totally.
OMG Thanks for writing this and sharing It. Im in the verge of wanting to quit too, but don’t even know how to start and reading on the web I found your article it is so true all you said. My addiction is so bad that last year the worst hurricane hit where I live Puerto Rico and I thought that well no power, no ice its time to quit “yea right” easier said than done. Because of the water shortage Coca Cola here in PR stoped producing diet coke so they can produce more water, so I couldn’t find diet coke no where I even drank coke Zero ????. My family members even sent some from Miami it was impossible for me to quit I even paid $24 for a case when ever I could find it. I made all the excuses I could think off for not stopping. One day without power they was no ice so I drank one from the can I said to my self wow this taste terrible because I like it with alot of ice and a squeeze of lemon and even there I couldn’t stop. So Im tired I want to STOP. But I need HELP.
That’s a crazy story Iris! I can only imagine that before I kicked the habit I would easily have paid anything for a case. Good luck with your journey, I hope you find these suggestions helpful!
I am currently sitting on the couch at 5:55am downing my 4th can of DC just out of habit. I’m doing this knowing it is unhealthy and ultimately will make me more tired and groggy later today. Quitting, I feel is going to be a white knuckle, headache pounding, exhaustion inducing nightmare. Ironically I am an alcoholic in recovery and 5 years ago I spent the 5 most physically and mentally traumatic days of my life in a detox facility and got through that, yet the idea of quitting DC seems so insurmountable, but this article has helped me realize it is not.
Thank you for your story!
Wow Graham, what you wrote is really powerful and says a lot about how addictive Diet Coke can be! I love being in a place where I can have a Diet Coke one or twice or three times a week and enjoy it and that’s it. I don’t know how physically different I feel but being free of the shackles of being obsessed with something is, well, freeing. I wish you all the best on this road!
Quitting DC is something i’ve considered many times. I think with your suggestion of tea and a soda stream, it may be possible.
Good luck Matthew! Sipping on some delicious morning tea right now and haven’t even thought about soda till I started replying to comments. How time changes us!
Found your article on day 2 of me quitting diet coke and googling ‘diet coke withdrawal symptoms’ as I sat at my desk with a crippling headache!
Reading your article has inspired me to keep going, but try and find something to help with the headaches. I don’t drink tea or coffee so DC was my only source of caffeine, I guess I’ll just have to start trying alternatives and see what is the best option.
Thanks for your story!
I was the same Debi! I feel for you. Best of luck with your journey 🙂 If I can go from loathing tea as much as I did to being as obsessed with it as I am now, I feel like anyone can, ha ha!
I could have written this article. I am a Diet Coke addict. I love the sound of the can opening and will only drink from a can. Will never add ice because as you said, it waters it down. I will not go to a restaurant if it doesn’t serve Diet Coke. My kids will say, “mark this restaurant off our list” or “this is a Daddy only restaurant.” It is so bad. Your article gives me hope- thanks for writing it!
You’re so welcome Michele. I LOVE not being addicted to Diet Coke. I have maybe two a week now and I cherish them but don’t obsess over them. It’s the best!
I have been drinking many diet cokes per day and I ran out 2 days ago. For the past few days, I have been so depressed and tired with a feeling of hopelessness. Nothing hormonal is going on, so I realized, it is possibly diet coke withdrawal. Soda stream is a great idea and I am sure I’ll feel better. Thank You so much for your article! You’ve inspired me to quit.
I’ve been there! Stay strong, the first few days are the hardest.
Read your post with interest, I am in the middle (about 2 weeks) of another attempt to stop drinking artificially sweetened drinks (and was a “chain chewer” of aspartame sweetened gum). Withdrawal symptoms are minimal but one that is peculiar is a mild itching that moves around with no rash or any other visible sign. Did you (or any of your followers, that you know of) experience this? This is it, I’m done with aspartame for good.
Interesting — I personally never experienced the itching, though it doesn’t sound that crazy to me knowing all we do about aspartame. Good luck!
Hi Alex Thank you fpr the interesting article.
I have become aware that I am becoming or am addicted to Coke Zero. And yes I have been aware that if there id none in the house I will rush out to buy and I can drink a whole 1.5 litres without too much trouble in a short time.
So was happy to come across your article. It is the inspitation I need to tackle getting rid ofvthe habit.
I do definitely also have a very sweet tooth and coke and chocolate cake etc do seem to go hand in hand. Have also read that drinking alcohol fuels the crqving for sugary treats and one leads to the other.
Thank you again. I will try the fruit tree alternative which I am able to drink without sugar. Starting now as a Jewish New Year resolution.
Sounds like you are having a very similar experience to mine. How is it going so far? I have to tell you, it feels SO GOOD to be free of the addiction!
I have been drinking diet coke for almost 30 years, a habitual drink throughout the day kind of drinker. Pretty sure I’ve been dehydrated for a long time, although I do drink water, tea and coffee, too. I gave up diet coke fully for few weeks recently and noticed during that time I wasn’t feeling as well, and didn’t feel too much of a change, so I decided maybe moderation would work for me. So far it has and it doesn’t have the pull on me like it previously did. I’m loving sparkling waters now, especially Spindrift and Bubly. Only problem is I have ‘gained’ weight… if that continues to happen and I don’t feel any better I’m not sure I’ll be too motivated to continue. I want to adopt a healthy lifestyle, including eating a more plant based diet and giving up the soda in hopes I can lose weight. I wasn’t sure if I’d lose weight but gaining is stressing me out. I was told possibly my body is holding on to all the water it’s getting bc it is used to being dehydrated… not sure if that is true or not…good job giving it up, though. It has been a hard struggle and I’ve tried many times to give it up.
Interesting Kerrie. I heard so many accounts of losing weight from those who gave up diet sodas I was hoping to see similar results, but mine definitely stayed stable. I do feel significantly healthier and more hydrated than I did in my full addict days, though when I’m in the USA I definitely drink Diet Coke in moderation. (When I’m abroad, I don’t like the formulas and give it a miss.) Good luck making the transition if you decide to stick with it!
So much in common with you.Ive been addicted to Diet Coke for 30 years.Love thailand -who doesnt – and I met you in your cornflour blue dress over there – tho you thai at the time
Not sure what you mean by that Tony, ha. We met in Thailand before?
I think my local Wendy’s might go out of business if I quit diet coke…HA funny but not! It was the beginning of 9th grade and my hormones had kicked in and my Diet Coke love began. Now 34 years later….. I don’t know how to stop. I have kicked cigs, drugs, alcohol and after all that hard hard work over the years I have just told myself at least I can have diet coke. It has to go it is affecting my health and I truly don’t think I can do it. Do you mind telling me again what has helped….Soda Stream?? Tea? Is there a carbonated tea type drink without sugar? I am going to start gathering info and a plan.. I am scared and that is crazy.
Thank you for sharing your experience!
Hey! Yes, flavored seltzer for the carbonation and tea for the caffeine has been my saving grace. I’m so grateful to have broken my addiction — but still do love to occasionally indulge!
Hi Alex, thank you so much for writing this article. I found it truly inspirational and it has helped me break my Coke Zero addiction. Today I am 10 weeks clean from drinking any drinks with artifical sweeteners (literally I have been drinking coffee, tea and sparkling water) and have used Ordinary Ginger ale as a mixer with gin. I used to drink huge quantities of Coke Zero – litres a day and this started when I was about 12 (I’m 34 now).
I hear you about it changing your taste buds – it is so much easier to say no to sweet things when you don’t drink the stuff. I’ve had a massive bar of Dairy Milk in my fridge for over a week and haven’t been even remotely tempted to touch it. It completely changes your palate!
That’s amazing Helena, brava! I am soooo happy for you and years later I can tell you it is still a huge relief to be free of what was a major addiction for me! As I’ve gotten older and my body has gotten less forgiving I can only imagine if I was still chugging Diet Coke like I did in my teens and early twenties, ha.
Great post! I literally could relate to most of it. I’m a regular Coca Cola Addict- 2-4 cans a day and I am currently on day 2 of stopping it. I have some headaches and nausea but I just keep drinking water. Thanks to your post I’ll look into some tea options too!
Good luck, Dior! Stick with it, it’s life changing!
Came across this while googling how to quit drinking Diet Pepsi lol. I’ve tried a few times but always fall back into the habit after a few weeks, think I might try the tea idea though. Great job on quitting.
Good luck Aaron! Just had my third tea of the day, ha. A great healthy habit to have picked up, nice and cheap and hydrating, and warms you up in the winter!
Thank you for this article, it makes me feel like less of an anomaly of a human being! Like, the only person I ever told about it shamed me something terrible and I’ve been so embarrassed about it that the only people who know now are my parents – even my little brother doesn’t know.
I managed a little while ago – I used Skinny Syrups in fruit and flower flavours to make up water based drinks and loved it. But suddenly the water in our building started coming in cloudy and tasted foul. I fell straight back into my old habit after buying a couple of small bottles “until they fixed it”. Well its two and a half months later and the water is still cloudy and I’m drinking two litres a day again 🙁
BUT seeing this has made me resolve to buy some water and to raise the issue with our building. I can’t be the only one who’s bothered by this. Thank you 🙂
Good luck Jennifer! I definitely recommend litres of seltzer as a possible fix… I’m now obsessed with bubbly water 🙂 Definitely sounds like something to bring up with your building regardless, though.
Thanks for this article. I’m on day 5 of quitting my 3-5 cans of coke zero per day habit. Today, I was crawling out of my skin and wondering who I am anymore. I wondered if it could be a physical withdrawal, so Google led me to you. I needed to hear what you had to say. Thank you!
I’m so glad to hear that this was a little boost of confidence, Brenda! Stay strong, you got this. Life is so much better free from needing to constantly have that fix!