I was addicted to Diet Coke. Until November 2017 I would routinely drink about two litres of the stuff a day, served fridge cold in a glass stacked with ice. Beads of icy condensation would form on my refreshing glass after glass after glass of Diet Coke. But I gave it up, and here’s how and why I did it.
I don’t really remember when I started drinking Diet Coke. I think it was in the early 2000’s and my first few cans were from the vending machine in the college I worked in. From memory, I’d found regular Coke too sweet and I wanted something like Coke but not as tooth-tinglingly sweet. It wasn’t so much the diet aspect I enjoyed, but the cold refreshing, thirst quenching nature of the drink. I was soon hooked and drinking one or two cans a day.
As the years went by I started drinking Diet Coke at home too. It probably started as a cold one after work and developed into the several litres a day habit I ended up with. I knew that regardless of the minimal calories I was ingesting, Diet Coke probably wasn’t that healthy for me. When I was pregnant I shifted to caffeine free Diet Coke, but soon shifted back. I’ve flirted with the odd month or two without caffeinated drinks over the years, but I always went back to Diet Coke.
Whenever the concerned voice inside my head mentioned that Diet Coke probably wasn’t that great, another voice would remind me that the school nurse encouraged me to drink lots of fizzy drinks as they would fill me up so I wouldn’t eat (who gives that kind of advice to a teenage girl?). I would also tell myself that there were so few calories in it I was doing myself a favour by drinking it. Of course now we know different.
In 2017 I’d spent several months being under the weather or just plain poorly. I knew I needed to make some changes, so in November I undertook a serious detox plan. It was pretty horrible but it did work and I felt better for it. During the detox I gave up pretty much everything except fruit, vegetables and water. When I came out the other side I was no longer craving Diet Coke.
Caffeine is a drug and it’s highly addictive. Where I can I try and opt of caffeine free options in all kinds of things. There are even caffeine free pre-workout supplements (click for source) which if you’re a gym goer can help improve your performance and energy levels.
I’ve probably had 15 years of drinking Diet Coke under my belt. Did stopping make me feel any different? Well, yes. Once I’d gone through the caffeine withdrawal headache, I felt much better. I have gone from having under three hours sleep a night to getting almost double that on average. More sleep also makes me a nicer, more humany human.
Tips for giving up Diet Coke
Mentally prepare yourself. Giving up isn’t easy and you will probably get a headache and a raging thirst for Diet Coke.
Find a few alternative drinks that you can drink instead. I’ve started drinking more water and I mostly drink very weak sugar-free cordial with ice. My current tipple is no added sugar Vimto and I also like an orange squash. I make mine very weak so it’s more like a flavoured water than anything.
Keep a note about when you stopped and what is different for you. You will probably find you’re sleeping better. If you’ve got a Fitbit this can help monitor your sleep. Seeing an improvement in this area was a big motivation for me.
Reward yourself. For me giving up fizzy drinks entirely is fairly unrealistic. Every week I choose a few interesting cans of fizzy pop and put them in the fridge, my current favourite is San Pellegrino. When I feel like a treat I will crack open a can. A little of something nice is good for you, two litres a day, probably not so much.
That’s how I gave up Diet Coke. I’ve been Diet Coke free for over two months now and I feel happier and healthier for it. I’m very pleased that I’ve managed to step away from my Diet Coke addiction.