Quitting Diet Soda

Lauren Rogulski

HOUSTON, TX – To say that I loved Diet Coke is an understatement. It was a staple of my diet and practically an accessory I carried around. I cringe now when I admit I drank at least two to four cans of Diet Coke every day for years.

I completely ignored the warnings from friends and family and rolled my eyes. I’d heard that it could wreck my blood sugar control, boost my risk of prediabetes by 20 percent and trigger weight gain. I’d also heard that it could damage my teeth and cause mood swings, chronic headaches and even bone thinning. I didn’t care.

I loved it, I craved it, and I had no intention of giving it up. No calories! No sugar! But all the deliciousness, refreshment, and caffeine!

Towards the end of 2018, I realized my consumption was getting particularly high, and I was purchasing the 35 can case from Sam’s Club more frequently.

I became annoyed that my daily consumption was becoming a dependence and an inconvenience. I decided I needed to quit.

It took two weeks to shake the worst of the withdrawal symptoms and at least two months before my daily Diet Coke cravings eased. My daily headaches disappeared when I went cold turkey, but I still wince when I think back to how miserable I was during those first long weeks.

Turns out cutting down—or even quitting—Diet Coke doesn’t need to be that traumatic. Here, the tricks that can make this task a whole lot easier.

Why exactly is diet soda bad for you?

When taken at face value, diet soda seems like a health-conscious choice. It saves you the 140-plus calories you’d find in a sugary soft drink while still satisfying your urge for something sweet with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose. But there’s more to this chemical cocktail than meets the eye.

Artificial sweeteners have more intense flavor than real sugar, so over time products like diet soda dull our senses to naturally sweet foods like fruit Even more troubling, these sugar stand-ins have been shown to have the same effect on your body as sugar. Artificial sweeteners trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat storage mode and leads to weight gain.

When you drink diet soda, you’re not taking in any calories—but you’re also not swallowing anything that does your body any good, either. The best no-calorie beverage? Plain old water.

Excessive soda drinking could leave you looking like a Breaking Bad extra, according to a case study published in the journal General Dentistry. The research compared the mouths of a cocaine-user, a methamphetamine-user, and a habitual diet-soda drinker, and found the same level of tooth erosion in each of them. The culprit here is citric acid, which weakens and destroys tooth enamel over time.

Tufts University researchers found that drinking soda, including diet soda, compounds the problem. They discovered that female cola drinkers had nearly 4% lower bone mineral density in their hips than women who didn’t drink soda.

Ways you can quit drinking diet soda:

  • Start slowly

I thought going cold turkey would be the best way to get Diet Coke out of my diet, but UCLA researchers say making small changes, like cutting out one glass or can of soda weekly) can double your odds of long-term success. Small diet tweaks are easier to adjust to, and they can turn this health goal into a permanent, lasting lifestyle change.

  • Add protein to your breakfast

Just starting your day with a high-protein breakfast can cut your withdrawal symptoms in half within 48 hours, say University of Cincinnati researchers. Protein slows carb absorption and improves your ability to convert blood sugar into fuel, and that helps reduce cravings, brain fog, fatigue and other symptoms,

  • Don’t be a hero

Ditching Diet Coke can cause brutal caffeine withdrawal, but with a little preplanning, you can skip that misery altogether. According to researchers at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, substituting four ounces of coffee for every 12-ounce can or glass of Diet Coke that you cut out of your diet can prevent those nasty symptoms entirely. The experts recommend to start cutting back your diet soda intake with a goal of quitting it altogether. Take small steps to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Start with simply drinking more water, including flavored seltzers as long as they contain no additional sweeteners.

  • Sweeten with real sugar

If you’ve been chugging Diet Coke to kill your sugar cravings, that could be the reason you have such a yen for sweets in the first place! According to Stanford University researchers, artificial sweeteners often prompt people to keep refilling their glass, because fake sugar actually fuels your brain’s desire for the real thing.

 

This took time for me to accomplish. To all the other diet soda fiends out there I can say, it gets better. I don’t need Diet Coke to get me through an afternoon now.