It’s true. I’m a recovering diet soda addict, (Diet Coke specifically) but I’m two years clean and I refuse to ever go back!
In my adult life, it has taken quite a few years for me to truly accept what healthy eating means. I, like many others, fell into many of the fad diets and believed all the popular healthy eating myths. One of those being diet soda (or here in Minnesota, we call it pop).
As a kid, (and still as an adult) I had a prominent dairy sensitivity (along with eggs and wheat). My poor mother did the best she could feeding me. There were not NEARLY the amount of dairy free options available in the mid 80’s like there are now and many of them were crazy expensive. I didn’t really like drinking water and I couldn’t drink milk so as a result, I ended up drinking quite a bit of juice.
Regular everyday people (especially back then) might not realize how addicting sugar can be or that fruit juice has very concentrated amounts of sugar. Yes, fruit juice has “natural” sugar, but truthfully your body processes sugar in that high concentration that is void of any fiber the same way as if you ate a handful of candy and once you develop that pallet for sweet beverages it can curse you for the rest of your life! Trust me I know.
Sugar is addicting – Fake sugar is no exception
In my opinion, sugar might as well be considered a drug. There really is such a thing as a “sugar high” and fake sugar is NOT an exception. (Ready for another good documentary? Check out FED UP available on Netflix. You will never look at sugar the same!)
As I grew up, I made the natural transition from juice to soda. The real thing, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, flavors and all. When I entered my 20’s I started falling into the dieting trends and decided I needed to switch to diet soda. I thought I was being healthy! It was zero points on weight watchers so it had to be OK, right? I had SUCH a sweet tooth and didn’t want the calories of actual sweet drinks or foods so I binged on diet soda and ate processed “diet” foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
Some people wake up and start their day with coffee, I would start my day with a Diet Coke (or two or three) Once I entered my 30’s eating a real food diet started to be a priority, but I couldn’t shake my Diet Coke addiction. I KNEW it was bad for me, but I truly felt like I COULD NOT make it through the day without it. Pretty sure that is a clear sign of addiction. I was drinking close to a 12 pack a day, NO LIE!
Ready to be a quitter
December of 2014 I’d had enough. I was sick of the almost daily headaches I had developed. I was always tired and every time I felt fatigued (which was almost constantly) I would pop open another can of soda. My thinking was cloudy and even my vision was affected.
This wasn’t my first rodeo. I’d attempted to quit MULTIPLE times over the years. Sometimes doing well (especially during my pregnancies), but I always seemed to fall off the wagon. This time just HAD to be different. My mistake in the past was thinking I could still have one on occasion. “Oh, I’ll just have one” I’d say and end up giving in to the craving. That slope is WAY too slippery for me. I needed to say goodbye for good.
I knew it was really time to quit, but I was scared of the withdrawals. How the heck would I make it through the day?!
Well, my mind and my body must have known it was time. January 1st, 2015 was D-Day, but a few weeks before that I was noticing that every time I drank a Diet Coke I was enjoying it less and less. I was still very much craving it, but I could feel the headaches starting before I would even finish the can and it didn’t even taste good anymore. My body was finally rejecting the chemical that had controlled me for SO many years!
By the first of January, I said, “NO MORE”. I still was tired and fatigued and I still had cravings, but it was an incredible gift to be able to fight through it and finally be truly done.
Why is Diet Soda Bad?
Soda, in general, is not healthy in any way because of the sugar and artificial flavors and colors. It is NOT real food. Diet soda is far from an improvement. It is sweetened with calorie-free chemical sweeteners. Aspartame is the most common. Check out this crazy informative article about all the side effects and health risks of consuming this chemical HERE.
After I read this article and saw many of my own side effects including headaches, fatigue, vision problems, and memory problems on the list I couldn’t believe that I had been putting this toxic poison in my body! This stuff was literally killing my brain cells.
The really sad thing is that this chemical is not only in diet soda, but it is also in many processed foods labeled “sugar-free” and “sugar-free” non-soda beverages. Many of which are being fed to children, including:
- Fruit cups
- Chrystal Light
- Ice Cream
- Sports drinks
One of my favorite real food rules (From Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollen) is to avoid eating food that is pretending to be something it’s not. If there is ANY type of artificial sweetener in a food of any kind, it would be best to avoid it all together so READ ALL THE INGREDIENTS.
What do I drink now?
- Carbonated water -I still get a hankering for something fizzy now and again. Many times I satisfy this with a carbonated water. The grapefruit flavored water from LaCroix is probably my favorite.
- Coffee – I have become a pretty big coffee drinker. I like Cameron’s organic whole bean coffee from Costco with a splash of coconut milk. YUM!
- Water – Lots of water. I like a splash of real lemon or lime juice for a bit of flavor.
- Tea – Hot or iced. I don’t drink a lot of tea, but I do love unsweetened iced tea in the summer and an occasional hot green tea with ginger and a dab of real raw honey to warm up in the cooler months.
- Mean Green Juice – A blend of cucumber, apple, celery, lemon, ginger, and kale made fresh in a juicer.
So, are you someone who wants to make the same big change I made? That’s FANTASTIC! Here are my top tips for you to finally ditch the diet soda demon. I know you can do it!
My top 6 tips for quitters:
- RESEARCH – Use the heck out of google and read read read about all the horrible things that are associated with artificial sweeteners like aspartame. It is HUGELY motivational.
- DOCUMENT – Start documenting your side effects. You might not even realize how many you actually have unless you see it on paper.
- REPLACEMENT – Try out healthy alternatives that will work for you to curb cravings. (Try to avoid anything with high amounts of sugar and/or artificial ingredients)
- D-DAY – Give yourself an official cut-off date. Try to slowly cut back until then and then on D-DAY say goodbye for good and never look back.
- TAKE A DAY OFF- That first day is tough. Keep your schedule clear so you can really focus on getting lots of rest and detoxing.
- CELEBRATE – At first celebrate every day with no soda, then every week, month and eventually a year. Don’t sell yourself short this is a very commendable achievement.
Now that I’ve been free of diet soda for over two years, I feel SO much healthier. I hardly EVER get headaches anymore. That right there was enough to prove to me that I made the right choice. My only regret is that I didn’t achieve it sooner.
Are you a diet soda addict? If you have any questions about kicking the habit feel free to comment below! I’d love to help in any way I can.
Are you someone who has already kicked the habit? I’d love to hear your story in the comments and give you a cyber high five because I know it is not an easy feat!