Kicking the Diet Coke Addiction
1983 was a magical year for me. Not only was it the year I graduated from high school (yes, I realize I just dated myself) but it was also the year that I discovered Diet Coke. We started serving Diet Coke at the Del Taco that I worked at and it was a magical elixir from the Gods. I could now drink as much soda as I wanted and not suck in a single calorie. The Coca-Cola Company obviously had found some magical spring with bubbled forth this fizzy goodness and would forever change my life. Within about a month of replacing Coke with Diet Coke as my go-to drink, I could never drink “regular” Coke or Pepsi again, they just felt too “heavy”.
Fast forward almost 30 years, and Diet Coke or the newer Coke Zero have remained my drink of choice. Surprisingly enough, I am almost 40 pounds overweight, suffer regular migraines, have high blood pressure, and am entering the risk zone for a number of other issues. My options are to continue to have health problems, or make some serious lifestyle changes.
My overall diet isn’t THAT bad, nothing that can’t be adjusted a little without much hassle but my main vice are my drinks. I rarely drink alchohol, rarely drink plain water, if I need a drink, there are really four choices, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, or a Blue or Purple Monster Energy drink (they have 0 calories and very low carbs, so they are good for you right?) or a cup of coffee (black, no sugar, no cream).
So what’s the problem? Well, first off, I don’t want to be preachy or pretend that I am a nutritional expert, but I believe that “for me”, the root issue is Aspartame. Aspartame is the sweetener of choice for many diet drinks and while the FDA has approved it, I have researched it quite a bit and I feel that there are far more negatives than positives about it. Feel free to Google it for yourself if you are interested.
Now I am not crazy, I am not going to try to give up Aspartame AND Caffeine at the same time, plus I want to try to figure out if trying to just cut out Aspartame would have any effect or would I have to go all the way later and take Caffeine out completely as well.
So there is the background, so why am I writing this. Mostly to provide self-documentation on how it progressed but also to let other people know what I have gone through in trying to make this change and maybe help someone else that is trying to kick this habit as well.
A Few Big Surprises
Have you ever tried to kick the caffeine habit? I certainly have and have failed each time because of the withdrawal symptoms, mostly the headaches. Well..I haven’t given up caffeine, I am drinking a coffee as I am writing this, but since the day after my last Diet Coke, I have had the migraines I used to blame on caffeine deprivation. I am on day 5 as of right now and have not had one yet today, but I am keeping Excedine Migraine pills at arms reach just in case.
One of the more interesting side effects of Aspartame is that it messes with your brain and can actually stop you from feeling full after a meal, thus, many people who drink diet sodas often are overweight from overeating. This has always been an issue for me, I simply don’t feel full until I physically cannot fit any more food in my stomach. In the first 4 days of stopping my Aspartame-laced drinks, I have noticed that I am eating less, and getting that full feeling before I am even done with a meal. In fact, I lost four pounds in the first four days.
Some people have reported mood swings, depression, anxiety, and numerous other symptoms when giving up Aspartame. For me, the headaches have been an issue and although I can’t confirm that it is related, but since day 2, I have had horrible muscle pains in my neck requiring lots of deep tissue massaging to alleviate the pain. At day 7 I will do a few checks like blood pressure, heart rate, and weight and see where I am at. It may be a little harder than normal since I am also on day two of nine days on the road with only one day at home next week. It will be interesting to see where this takes me, maybe it was a great move, maybe it was just a placebo effect, or maybe it won’t matter at all. Only time will tell.