It’s been four days now since my last bit of diet coke. The headaches are gone and, while I can’t say that I feel like a whole new person, I certainly feel some improvement in my overall health. As a bit of background, I used to consume huge amounts of diet coke. 3 to 4 cans at work and 2 to 3 glasses at dinner or lunch. That means around a gallon per day. Essentially, all my liquid intake would be through diet coke and very little through water. Doesn’t sound very healthy does it?
I drank diet coke because I kept telling myself that it was the least of all evils. It allowed me to get some sweet like flavors without any calories. However, my experimentation with the 4 hour body diet showed me that drinking soda, even diet soda, led straight into a carb binge. Apparently, my taste buds really can’t tell artificial from natural sweetener. All they knew was “SUGAR!!! MORE!!!” and after drinking even one diet coke I was much more likely to binge on candy, sweets or more diet coke. So my “I’ll stay away from the candy and just drink one diet coke instead” would turn into “three diet cokes, a few candy bars and a piece of cake!”
So last week I went through a little exercise and tried to figure out what would change in my life if I wasn’t drinking so much diet coke. The results were overwhelming:
- Money – For someone who’s trying to save money, I was spending a lot of it on chemical water. My rough calculation showed that I was essentially spending about $1000 a year on diet coke. That’s right, a THOUSAND dollars on something that makes my health worse. I can find much better ways to spend this money.
- Environment – I care about the world around me. Julie and I are talking about kids at some point and I would like to leave those kids a better world than the one I live in. So when I look at the amount of waste my diet coke habit generates (3 to 4 aluminum cans plus 1 or 2 plastic bottles per day) compared to the amount of waste I will generate if I drink water (ZERO!), it’s really a no brainer.
- Health – Forget sugar binges, just look at the effects of Aspartame. First they tell me it’s safe, then they tell me it causes cancer, then they tell me it’s safe and now it seems like the government believes it’s the best thing out there. Personally, I trust our government and especially the FDA about as much as I trust breakfast cereals with “HEALTHY!” on the box. To me it seems like if you can avoid putting chemicals into your body, that’s a win for your health and aspartame is just one of multiple chemicals in diet coke. So this is yet another reason to avoid diet coke.
It’s funny, but I never actually looked at the facts this way. When I write down these facts it seems like a no brainer. In fact, writing down pros and cons is one of the exercises I recommend to folks on my self-improvement blog and I suppose I should have taken my own advice a long time ago. There are zero benefits to drinking diet coke and quite a lot of disadvantages.
So, Decision Made
Ok, now that I have decided to quit, the question was, how to quit? I’ve tried the gradual approach before and it didn’t work. I would always slip back into my bad habit. So this time I tried the cold turkey approach. I stopped drinking diet coke altogether on Thursday of last week.
The first day was miserable. I had headaches, I was irritable and I’m pretty sure I was an all-around jerk at work. By the second day, those side effects had disappeared but I was having really strong cravings. I could feel the cold, fizzy taste of diet coke in my mouth after meals and I really, REALLY wanted just one can. A few things helped.
- No eating at restaurants that have bottomless cups of soda. It’s really easy to drink too much at those places.
- Cold water with meals and after them. I find that cold water, without ice, did a lot to quench the craving for soda. In fact, I just reached for a cup and drank some after typing that last sentence.
- No diet coke at home. I used to have a bottle of diet coke or a 12 pack of Coke zero as permanent fixtures in my fridge. No more. If they’re not around, it’s much harder to be tempted.
- I shared my goal with my coworkers and with my fiancé. By letting them know I was doing this I was making it socially painful to fail. That reinforces my need to succeed. Shallow? Maybe, but it works!
Four days later and I’m doing great.
- Less sugar cravings – In fact, significantly less. I’m no longer descending into those really bad sugar binges which used to follow a can of coke.
- Better sleep – I don’t wake up during the night as often as I did before. Even Julie commented on this yesterday morning and said that I had been sleeping much better the last couple of nights.
- Better energy levels throughout the day – I haven’t found myself dosing off at any meetings today (and I’ve had 7 so far!)
Now it’s only been 4 days so I’ve set next Saturday as a goal. If I can make it to that point then I will consider this a victory.
Thank you to A Lighter Me for adding my “when did I get fat” post to their recent carnival.