How To Stop Drinking Diet Soda
The Early Years
The first time I remember hearing of diet soda was in the early eighties. I was 13 years old and in the hospital. I had just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. My doctor told me there is this new type of soda, it’s called diet soda. It has no sugar – you can drink all of that you want he said!
I grew up drinking and loving diet sodas – especially one popular brand. And, I mean LOVED them. It didn’t take long before that carbonated caramel devil had a hold on me.
Through my teen years into adulthood I drank them regularly. They were my morning coffee (I had never been much of a coffee drinker) and my afternoon pick me up at work. I could have a bad day, but just popping open an ice cold can and hearing that friendly, consoling phisssh would make everything in life better. Headache? No problem, crack open a cold can of diet red and silver, problem solved!
The years passed on and then my preferred brand released a new diet soda – soda zero. It was the same zero sugar as diet soda, but with little or no aftertaste. I was in diet soda heaven again!! It was my daily fix and I loved it. I got so tired of the soda machine at work running out of my favorite, that I made it a habit to pick up a 24 or 30 pack at Sam’s every couple of weeks. That way, I had them at work and at home – jackpot!!
Time to Try Quitting
In my life, I have never had serious problems with addiction. Thankfully, I have never been one to try habit forming drugs. But, I was in my mid 40’s when I realized I might have a little problem with diet sodas being a habit in my life. No – not me?
The cravings had become a little too much. Both dopamine and glutamate (two neurotransmitters in the brain’s reward center)
are released when caffeine and aspartame are drunk in the diet soda. This is very similar to a chemical addiction in that your brain is being tricked into craving that same “good” feeling you have every time you drink a diet cola.
Headaches ensued if I didn’t have my morning and daily fix. Carrying enough diet sodas with me when I went on trips became too ridiculous.
I knew from a past work experience about all the bad “stuff” in diet sodas. Aspartame, phosphoric acid (which btw, has skull and crossbone labels on the concentrate containers), artificial coloring and flavorings. Diet soda is bad for your kidneys, diet soda drinkers have lower bone density and it is bad for your teeth, etc, etc. There seemed to be plenty of reasons to stop – but only one reason to not. Did I really want to know how to stop drinking diet soda?
First Failed Attempt
The first time I tried to stop drinking diet soda cold turkey didn’t last long, maybe a couple days. Stopping cold turkey was too hard when you have been dependent on it for years. The chemicals and caffeine have their meat hooks in you. I was able to last a few days, but by the end, the headaches and the sadness weren’t worth it. I quickly ran back to my carbonated caramel elixir.
Second Failed Attempt
Some years had passed when I mustered up enough guts to try quitting again. My second attempt lasted about two weeks. I remember it was tough. The cravings were real and so were the headaches. It didn’t help that the co-worker in the cube next to me would pop open a can of soda every morning. Listening to that phisssh, would make me want to kick the cubicle wall down! The cravings were so bad that I would have to get up and go for a walk when he opened that forsaken can!
Third Time – Success!
Somehow the topic got brought up with another guy I worked with. He said he had drank colas for years and had finally stopped. He told me he had not had one in 2 years at that point. That totally blew my mind! Hearing him talk about it really inspired me to try again I thought, surely if he can do it, then I can quit too.
I didn’t try to quit cold turkey again. My goal each day was to not drink a diet cola for that day. If I did break down and have one, that was ok. But I tried really hard not to. The first week, I may have drank 2 or 3. The next week, I tried really hard to continue to reduce the quantity that I drank.
If you are a heavy consumer of multiple cans per day, you should definitely consider trying to reduce the amount you drink. For example, if you drink six cans a day, try to reduce that to maybe three cans a day. Then after some time, reduce that even to 1 or 2 cans.
At the same time, I also decided that I needed to find a replacement fix. That replacement fix in my case ended up being coffee. It took some adjusting to since I had never really drunk coffee, but it definitely helped with the caffeine withdrawals during those first days and weeks.
I would also plan to have your replacement fix available whenever you used to drink your diet sodas. If you drank your diet soda at 10 in the morning, if possible, have your coffee (or whatever your replacement fix is) then to take the place of your forsaken friend the diet soda.
Try to make it through one day without drinking a diet soda. Reducing the quantity of diet sodas consumed along with drinking coffee helped me to make it through the first day of not drinking diet sodas. Then, I was able to make it through multiple days of the week.
Next, try to make it a few days without drinking any. If you can do that successfully, then try going one week. In my case, before long, one week had passed without drinking a can of diet soda. Then two weeks!
Once you are able to not drink any diet sodas for one or more weeks, put your sights on the one month mark! For me, one day I realized that it had been a month since I had drunk a can. At that point, the cravings had really slowed. I wasn’t having headaches anymore. It was just more the aggravation of seeing someone with one or hearing a canned being opened that made me want one. But, I didn’t cave as I had come too far – yippee!!
Because of the chemicals in diet sodas and how they trick our brains, they can be quite addictive if drunk over time. There are different methods to learn how to stop drinking diet soda. Depending on the quantity and length of time you have drunk diet sodas, it might take more than one attempt to stop drinking them. But, don’t be disheartened by that!
Below are 5 tips on how to stop drinking diet soda:
- If you are a heavy drinker, don’t go cold turkey. It will be too hard. First work on reducing the quantity that you consume in a day for a while.
- Find a drink to replace the diet sodas. It could be coffee or tea or anything that helps with the caffeine cravings.
- When you are ready to give it a go, try to make it through one day without drinking a soda.
- Then try to make it a few days. If successful, try one week without drinking any. If you do drink one, don’t beat yourself up, just keep trying to quit.
- Eventually, once you can make it a week or more without drinking any, try to make it one month. What an achievement!!
I am not going to lie, you will need to fight the cravings. Stay strong and don’t cave. Again, if you fail, don’t beat yourself up. Just dust yourself off and try again. Remember to make small achievable goals and celebrate them!!