I thought it only appropriate to publish this post a few days after my four year anniversary (December 11th) of not drinking Diet Coke. Even the fact that I know the exact date that I stopped drinking that foul beverage should be indicative of how truly addicted I was to it. I’m not going to get into all of the nitty gritty health details, because there are studies upon studies upon studies that show just how horrendous diet sodas are for the human body. I’m not here to convince anyone to give up anything, but simply to explain my own experience with Diet Coke.
This was basically me for 10 years.
For as long as I can remember, I would have Diet Coke every single day, multiple times a day. From my first attempt at dieting in high school and ordering an XL fountain Diet Coke from Burger King while friends got burgers and fries, to going back for second and third glasses at the dining hall in college, I was beyond hooked. I’d even keep my mini fridge in my dorm room stocked with ice cold frosty cans in case the craving should strike. And for any Diet Coke addicts, or former addicts, out there, you know what I’m talking about — when that first sip hits your lips, there’s nothing like it in the world!
And therein lies the problem. Reminiscing about my habit feels borderline drug-addict-esque…and when you research the kind of garbage that they use to make the product, it’s no wonder. I’d encourage everyone to read Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss for an eye-opening look into the inner workings of the food industry, and how products are engineered to make them addictive, and to encourage consumers to keep coming back for more, more, MORE. If you stop and think about it, you should be pissed off! If you ever have the feeling that you’re addicted to a food or drink, get mad as hell that food companies are rolling in the dough because you’re so hooked that you can’t help but purchase what they’re selling. Let that sink in for a minute.
So how did I kick my addiction once and for all? A few weeks prior to my last sip, I lost my mother to a protracted battle with cancer. Growing up, she wasn’t the healthiest role model and I saw firsthand so many habits, choices, and actions or inactions of hers that have stuck with me through life. And both she and my dad were serious Diet Coke addicts, too. [Actually as of writing this, my 73 year old father is over one year Diet Coke-free and I couldn’t be more proud and overjoyed.] In the wake of her death, as a 25 year old only-child going through the hardest time of my life, I promised myself then and there that I would do everything in my power to live a long, and more importantly healthy, life. So I knew then and there that the Diet Coke habit had to go.
I remember the very last Diet Coke I had. Kristian and I were on vacation in Puerto Rico, and on our last day there we made a run out to a bodega down the street for a snack. Naturally, I grabbed a bottle of Diet Coke to wash the snack down, but when I cracked open the bottle and had my first sip, it didn’t really do it for me. And something told me that once I set foot back in New York, I was going to go cold turkey and rid myself of Diet Coke’s grasp forever. Once home, I threw away the remaining cans that we had in the fridge (Oh yeah, I used to wait for a good deal on 12-packs and stock up so we always had a fresh supply. GROSS.)
The first month was pretty rough — I’d see a fountain beverage station and my mouth would water, thinking of a nice cold Diet Coke. But after about two months, I totally stopped craving it, and started to get disgusted when I’d see others drinking it. And even now, the smell of it is nauseating to me.
Some people will argue that everything is fine in moderation…and if you believe that, more power to you! But with an ingredient as controversial as aspartame, why the hell would I allow myself to moderately drink something that could do serious damage to my body?
So today I’m raising a glass (of seltzer water) to four years Diet-Coke free. Life has never tasted so sweet.