Hi. My name is Bethany, and I’m a Diet Coke-aholic.
Seriously though. It’s bad. In our house growing up, we never had soft drinks. We only got drinks in our happy meals, or when we had company over, my mom would buy a two-liter…which we were only allowed one cup a day from that 2-liter. Once I went off to college though, I was never without diet cokes in the refrigerator and ordering one every time we went out to eat. Basically, everyday for the past 14 years, I’ve had multiple cokes a day. I’ve given half-hearted attempts here and there to stop my addiction, and a few years ago, I actually did go about four months without a single drop of diet coke. When I had that first drink following the four month sabbatical, I could taste the chemicals, and I was shocked that I had been drinking something so chemical laden. However, they slowly made their way back into my life, and I’ve been downing them by the case full ever since.
Recently, I’ve started doing some research on diet cokes, and research is tricky because studies can be all over the place. One study says this, while another study says that. But the research on non-nutritive sweeteners (aka the stuff that flavors diet coke with no calories) is pretty conclusive: it’s not good for you. Here’s just a very short list of the havoc these sweeteners may cause if consumed in large amounts (which my daily diet coke consumption would definitely be considered a large amount…so *embarrassing*)
- Diet coke can lead to increased inflammation. Because of my PCOS, my body is always in a constant state of inflammation. Therefore, I’m always trying to lower that inflammatory response. Because of diet coke’s acidic nature, it raises inflammation in the gut lining, therefore totally derailing all the other positive efforts I take to fight that inflamed state.
- Diet coke may raise your risk of dementia and memory loss. This is information that’s been going around for years, and this past week, I took a deep dive into this topic by listening to all the podcasts and reading everything I could about it. I won’t get into all the science-y details here of how it affects the brain, but it’s fascinating, and I’m now convinced more than ever that I need to get off the Diet Cokes. Dementia and Alzheimer’s run on both sides of my family, so it’s very important that I protect my brain and memory as much as possible to prevent these diseases from affecting me when I’m older.
- Diet coke may cause weight gain. Now, this is one that teeters between science and fiction…some believe it, others say it’s totally bogus. Again, I won’t go all nutrition nerd on you giving you the background, but here’s where my opinion has landed: If artificial sweeteners causing weight gain is something at least worth debating, should we really be consuming it? Kinda like playing with fire and hoping you won’t get burned, right?
Anyway, these are just a few of the many possible damaging health effects of a steady stream of diet coke. I’ve implemented a few changes over the past few months and ways to get over roadblocks to decreasing this bad habit. I’m definitely not cured and still enjoy too many diet cokes, but it’s getting better and after a while I feel confident I will have kicked the habit for good.
1. Don’t go cold turkey! This goes against almost all wisdom when it comes to quitting addicting substances (which caffeine is absolutely an addicting drug!) I’ve learned that if I cut it out cold turkey, the headache would hit, and I would go running for a drink. I’ve found that it’s best to slowly wean yourself off of it. Since I was drinking multiple 20 oz bottles a day (*facepalm*I know, so bad!) I started slowly cutting it back to one per day, then a 12 oz can a day. Now, I’m to a point where I keep a stash in the pantry for days when I feel like I NEED one.
2. Make it less accessible. So, if something is easy and always available, we’re going to jump all over it, right? If there is always a nice, cold, diet coke sitting in the fridge waiting for me, of course I’m going to grab that before I reach for a glass of water. So, like I said above, I’ve gotten to where I keep a stash of cans in the pantry. That makes is less available and takes away the instant gratification.
3. Replace with a healthier option. There are so many healthy drink options out there. Zevia, La Croix, and Waterloo are all great carbonated beverages, but without the chemicals so you can still get the bubbly sensation. There are also drinks out there that jazz up plain old water like Hint or Vital Protein Collagen water. When that Diet Coke craving hits, try one of these options first and see if that doesn’t knock out the craving.
Do you have a favorite beverage that’s a constant in your life? Let me know in the comments!