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preventative health, weight loss

Thoughts on giving up Diet Coke. Again.

My name is Dr. Jennifer Gunter and I am a Diet Coke addict. I had my last drink on Sunday, June 17th, around 6 pm. The photo is the Diet Coke that I drank that day. The last addition to the graveyard of my addiction.

Now many of you might think my use of addiction in describing my 30 year love affair with Diet Coke as hyperbole, but allow me to apply the CAGE questionnaire (an addiction screening tool) to my habit:

Have you ever felt you should Cut down on your drinking? Why, yes. Yes I have. For 30 years I sustained a 4-5 can per day (at least that’s what I’m admitting to) habit. You don’t need to have a medical degree to know that’s too much Diet Coke. For the last 5 or so years I’ve really thought that I needed to do something about it (I was in full denial before).

Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking? Yes, yes they have. My best friend Cara and my partner Jen. They make little comments from time to time. It annoys me because deep down I know they are right, but I still haven’t been able to stop.

Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about your drinking? Yes. I feel bad drinking Diet Coke in front of my kids (here I am telling them soda is bad…yes, I am a hypocrite. I walk the walk everywhere else in my life, why not here?). I also feel bad when I get excited that Safeway has a special and I leave the store with 4 cases knowing that will probably get me through the week. Just. I feel bad because I need it.

Have you every have a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover (Eye opener?). Well, the hangover thing doesn’t really apply, but for many, many years I drank a Diet Coke first thing in the morning. Hated coffee, so in med school while everyone else was drinking coffee in class and on rounds I had a Diet Coke (it also made me different as I think I was the only non coffee drinker in my class, so I admit to liking that it got me a little extra attention). Over time it became both my schtick and my needed caffeine kick-start to the day. Maybe not an eye opener in the classic sense, but I couldn’t have imagined starting my day any other way.

Continuing to do something even though you know it is bad for you, another sign of addiction, certainly applies to my case as well. While sugar sweetened soda is definitely associated with obesity and diabetes, more and more research is emerging that indicates artificial sweeteners not only screw with your satiety center (making you crave food/sweets when you don’t need them), but also stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin, much like sugar does. Paradoxically, artificially sweetened soda may increase the risk of obesity and diabetes, much like sugar sweetened beverages. Never mind the excessive sodium, potassium, association with osteoporosis etc. etc.

I stopped drinking Diet Coke twice before. The first time during my pregnancy, a good motivation for change. However, after my premature delivery and inability to produce breast milk I quickly started consoling myself with Diet Coke (as well as 7-11’s brief flirtation with the Diet Pepsi Slurpee).

The second time was about 3 years ago when my kids starting asking for soda. However, after a few weeks of mom giving up Diet Coke to set an example, I started drinking at night after they went to bed (boy, did that make me feel awesome) and then, of course, I gradually started drinking more and more in plain sight.

So what is different this time? Well, I finally decided I needed to do it for me. I’m also in a good place. I am the healthiest I’ve ever been and this seems to be as stress free as my life is going to be for a while. Basically, I’m trying to set myself of for success, for example trying to quit the weekend I visit my parents would not be the wisest choice. My boyfriend also doesn’t share my habit, so it’s not stocked in his fridge. Once I found myself going a couple of days here and there without it, I thought the time is really now.

So, I upped my coffee and tea consumption to compensate for the missed Diet Coke caffeine and I turned to Twitter and found a virtual DCA (Diet Cokes Anonymous) for support. In lamenting my lost love (after only 48 hours) I was buoyed by @ProfSpiker and his very encouraging 300+ days dry. And I thought, if he can do it, so can I.

Do I feel better? Not in some global, life affirming, earth shattering way, but I have noticed that it is much easier to stick to my maintenance 2,000 calories/day (I am an obsessive calorie counter). Typically, I’m fighting hunger between meals and jonesing around for something sweet mid morning and around 5 pm and those feelings have gone away. I also feel a little less bloated. Whether it’s placebo or a real effect, I don’t know, but it is very interesting positive reinforcement.

So here’s to kicking a 6 can a day habit. One day at a time.

 

 

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Discussion

23 thoughts on “Thoughts on giving up Diet Coke. Again.

  1. Hope it goes well for you. I’d quit smoking before I’d give up Diet Coke.

    Posted by supperonsunday | June 23, 2012, 3:23 pm
  2. Good for you! I did the same a few months ago. You’re probably over the worst of it already.

    Posted by Lisa R. | June 23, 2012, 3:38 pm
  3. Ooh, same problem. Did you go cold turkey or cut back gradually?

    Posted by Escaperoad | June 23, 2012, 3:43 pm
  4. Good luck! I gave up all soda January 5 and still going strong, although the sight of a Dr. Pepper can does still make me quiver. Flavored sparkling water is now my best friend.

    Posted by SP | June 23, 2012, 4:52 pm
  5. As a healthcare provider, I feel your pain, for I, too, use diet soda as my caffeine source (though my preference is Diet Dew). I’m trying to substitute the diet soda with green tea. Some days are better than others. Nice application of the CAGE questions–definitely seems to apply.

    Posted by crubin | June 23, 2012, 5:08 pm
  6. So, if you go out to eat, are you just going to drink water instead, then? I could see giving it up at home, but I like my Diet Coke, when I’m out!

    Posted by dawnk777 | June 23, 2012, 5:49 pm
  7. This sounds like me with Dr Pepper. Diet, Regular, Ten, doesn’t matter. Since cutting out corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and artificial colors about four months ago, a Dr Pepper or a Diet Sunkist is a special treat maybe once per month. I save it for when I’m having either a really great day or a really terrible day. Otherwise, I drink a ton of La Croix flavored soda waters. THOSE are my new crack.

    Posted by gop360 | June 23, 2012, 6:03 pm
  8. Good for you. I haven’t been able to dissuade my family from drinking diet anythng. Jenny

    Posted by Jennifer Krieger | June 23, 2012, 6:44 pm
  9. I went cold turkey almost 1 year ago, I was a 12 pack a day drinker for 25 years. quitting was the hardest thing i have ever done, but It get’s easier every day… Good luck…

    Posted by john | June 23, 2012, 6:49 pm
  10. Congratulations on giving up the chemical cocktail. You will find that after a while your palate changes and if you try to drink one your will find it to be utterly disgusting.

    Posted by Kay L. Van Wey | June 23, 2012, 7:07 pm
  11. Great post I love Cokeacola or PEPSI and I use to drink a lot. when I usualy drink 1 liter of it whenever I eat out. I use to approx 2 liters of it every day when I was in US because I use to eat out three time a day but I was never addicted to it as I ccould give it up whenever I want to give up. Now I live in Lahore Pakistan and usualy eat out twice a week so I must drink Coke Pepsi or Sprite because the meal is just incomplete without it. My question is why some people get addicted to it? is it a gene? I love it but not adicted to it as I can go for months without have a single coke if I want to. as these days I am trying to lose weight(follow me if you like at haad’s weight loss journal at wordpress) so I have limited my eating out habbit to just once a month so not I drink COke, Pepsi, Sprite or 7up just once a month.

    DITE COKE or anythink Diet I hate I don’t drink Diet coke at all. Never have and never will I preffer not to drink at all than to drink any thing DIET.

    Posted by bajwa007 | June 23, 2012, 11:40 pm
  12. Note:
    Great post I love Coke or PEPSI and I use to drink a lot. I usualy drink 1 liter of it whenever I eat out. When I was in US I use to eat out three time a day and drink approx 3 liters of coke every day but I was never addicted to it as I could give it up whenever I want to give up. Now I live in Lahore Pakistan and usualy eat out twice a week and must drink Coke Pepsi or Sprite because the meal is just incomplete without it. My question is why some people get addicted to it? is it a gene? I love it but not adicted to it as I can go for months without have a single coke if I want to. as these days I am trying to lose weight(follow me if you like at haad’s weight loss journal at wordpress) so I have limited my eating out habbit to just once a month so I just drink Coke, Pepsi, Sprite or 7up once a month now and I love it.

    DITE COKE or anythink Diet I hate I don’t drink Diet coke at all. Never have and never will I preffer not to drink at all than to drink any thing DIET.

    Posted by bajwa007 | June 23, 2012, 11:45 pm
  13. I gave up coke for a month but then gave up my attempt to give it up. I have two toddlers and just needed the caffeine. I also thought the desire for it would be replaced by disgust (happened another time I gave it up). Instead my desire just seemed stable if not greater. I read somewhere that positive goals (eg, drink more water) were more successful than negative ones (eg, no coke). So I considered trying that. but Coke just makes me feel gross and I should just go cold turkey (esp after applying CAGE). I think if I tried replacing the caffeine with coke and tea, that would help (don’t really enjoy either).

    Posted by laura g (@laurabeth57) | June 24, 2012, 2:56 am
  14. Good for you!! I gave up all soda in 2008 and maintained that (aside from soda in mixed drinks – and I rarely drink) until I worked nights in the hospital earlier this year. I just couldn’t drink coffee all night because it’d have me running to the bathroom way more often than I had time for. I am no longer working nights though, and am back off the soda kick. I find tea is a great compromise, but I also was never a huge soda drinker. I mean, I never had it in the house, even. It was still difficult to quit so I can’t imagine what you are going through. Stay strong!!!

    Posted by Kari | June 24, 2012, 7:29 am
  15. Well done! I had no choice in the matter – about four months ago flavored sodas – all, regular or diet – suddenly started giving me terrible heartburn. Since I’m a singer, this is a Very Bad Thing in addition to being very uncomfortable, so I quit cold turkey and went to sparkling water. Haven’t looked back. (sparkling water + a splash of fresh-squeezed orange juice is delicious, too). I have my two cups of café con leche in the morning and am good to go.

    Posted by Kathy | June 24, 2012, 7:52 am
  16. Good luck! I’ve given up caffeine for the last 3 1/2 years after threats from my wife about the 2 a.m. conversations that interfered with her job/life/sanity. The temptation to use caffeine on driving trips, exhaustion, etc., and celebrations has lost it’s appeal when someone occasionally switches the decaf for the caffeine and I get wired for about 18 hours;).

    Posted by eric dillon | June 24, 2012, 8:56 am
  17. I feel like a heel, I thought you were out, I didn’t know you were trying to stop, please except my apologize, and stay strong, I need to do this too.

    Posted by Skiking226 | June 24, 2012, 12:55 pm
  18. Maybe diet coke has a different recipe down here in NZ because I think it tastes pretty bad ever since I was a kid (my nana has diabetes so constantly stocks diet coke in her fridge). The closest i’ve come with soda would be a coke 5-6 times a week on average while I was in my early teens and more recently a large energy drink 5-6 times a week. I’m not going cold turkey, I just want to reduce that number to 1-2 energy drinks a week maximum. I’d love to be able to drink a large energy drink three times a day but I just could never bring myself to do that.

    Posted by Cam | July 1, 2012, 4:53 pm
  19. My love affair is with Diet Pepsi. I’ve quit multiple times, for months, but I always seem to go back to drinking it. Much of it is psychological. I only drink 1-2 per day, but I know even that is bad for me. I can tell a physical difference when I quit drinking it. But I have many happy memories associated with it and it is a go-to when I’m stressed, like a comfort food. I think to be successful at giving it up, you must find a replacement. If you are smart about it, you make the replacement something healthier for you (like not being tricked by carbonated flavored waters which are still full of artificial sweeteners.)

    Posted by Linda | October 2, 2012, 1:16 pm

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  1. Pingback: » Get Rid of a Hangover – OK So you’re Hungover, Now What do you Do About it? - July 7, 2012

  2. Pingback: » Get Rid of a Hangover – OK So you’re Hungover, Now What do you Do About it? - July 7, 2012

  3. Pingback: Giving Up Diet Coke Weight Loss | Best Weight Loss Coaching - September 26, 2014

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