Last year, I quit drinking soda. All soda. I didn’t really care about giving up any of them except for diet coke. That one was hard. Since that time, I’ve been meaning to write this post and I finally did!
I still can’t really believe I haven’t had a diet coke in over 9 months, because I used to have one every single day. Here’s a post about how to quit drinking diet coke and some of the science behind artificial sweeteners.
Along with my coffee addiction, I used to be a big diet coke addict. I would drink diet coke any time I was out at a restaurant, almost every day at lunch at the hospital, and often when I was driving, studying, or doing anything else throughout the day that gave me a reason to buy diet coke.
Luckily, I tried to avoid buying diet coke at home because I knew that if I had it at home, I would drink it even more! I just love the bubbly, sweet taste, plus the caffeine- it’s basically the perfect drink. But, more and more I have learned of the negative health effects of diet sodas, and so I really wanted to quit drinking it.
I found this great article from the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. It gives a fantastic overview of all the different artificial sweeteners and the effect they have on weight. Here are some of the important parts:
- Several large scale prospective cohort studies found positive correlation between artificial sweetener use and weight gain. The San Antonio Heart Study examined 3,682 adults over a seven- to eight-year period in the 1980s . When matched for initial body mass index (BMI), gender, ethnicity, and diet, drinkers of artificially sweetened beverages consistently had higher BMIs at the follow-up, with dose dependence on the amount of consumption.
- Multiple studies looking at soda consumption (both diet and regular) in children show correlation with increased BMI. These studies aren’t as strong as the adult studies.
- Artificial sweeteners do not help reduce weight when used alone [2,25]. BMI did not decrease after 25 weeks of substituting diet beverages for sugar-sweetened beverages in 103 adolescents in a randomized controlled trial, except among the heaviest participants .
- Preload experiments generally have found that sweet taste, whether delivered by sugar or artificial sweeteners, enhanced human appetite. Aspartame-sweetened water, but not aspartame capsule, increased subjective appetite rating in normal weight adult males 
- Several studies have led to the following hypothesis: Inconsistent coupling between sweet taste and caloric content can lead to compensatory overeating and positive energy balance.
- Artificial sweeteners, precisely because they are sweet, encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence.
This study states pretty definitively that there is no increased risk of cancer or neurotoxicity with consumption of aspartame at the level of even “high users” in the US.
But even if diet coke isn’t causing cancer, I still think it’s a substance best avoided. I mean, look at the ingredients:
CARBONATED WATER, CARAMEL COLOR, ASPARTAME, PHOSPHORIC ACID, POTASSIUM BENZOATE (TO PROTECT TASTE), NATURAL FLAVORS, CITRIC ACID, CAFFEINE.
So how did I finally stop drinking diet coke?
Here’s the real answer: I did the Whole 30.
Last September, I did the Whole 30 challenge, a 30 day eating plan that eliminates sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, and any processed or artificial food product. I had to go 30 days without diet coke.
When I finished my whole 30, I immediately ran back to my beloved sugar, grains, and legumes, but I decided to continue avoiding diet coke. Soon, one month turned into 2 months, then 3, and now here we are, almost 10 months later.
I’m not going to lie. I still crave diet coke. When I’m out to dinner or every now and then at lunch, I think “a diet coke would taste so good right now!” but since I’ve gone this long without it, it’s not too hard to just keep saying no.
And I intend to keep saying no indefinitely.
So here are my best tips for quitting diet coke if you are an addict like I was:
- Cut it out for a certain amount of time- taking a 30 day break was doable for me because I knew it was only 30 days. But after getting it out of my system, it was easier to keep avoiding it.
- Replace it with something else- I LOVE sparkling water and now will order Pellegrino or Perrier at a restaurant. I also keep sparkling water at home and it kills a diet coke craving really well!
- Read up on the literature- the more I learn about all the processed food and drinks I consume, the less I want to eat or drink them. Knowledge is power!
- Partner up- Quitting with a friend or spouse makes it easier too. Luckily, Kyle doesn’t really drink diet coke, so that made it easy on me.
- Just say no- Tell yourself you don’t drink it anymore. Tell your friends you don’t drink diet coke any more. If you make it known publicly, you will be more accountable.
Hope this helps!!
Have you quit something that was hard to avoid? How did you do it?