August 21, 2012

5 Tips for Quitting Diet Soda

Those who follow me on the PS Facebook page might have seen me mention a couple of weeks ago that I have finally decided to stop drinking Diet Coke.

I know. That’s crazy talk! I mean, I always used to say that if Diet Coke is my only vice, I’m doing pretty well, right?
Well, the problem is, I have started to see more and more articles and news stories recently debunking that entire theory. 
Let’s pause for a second so I can add a disclaimer here: I am no expert on the purported effects of artificial sweeteners like those found in diet soda, nor am I 100%, absolutely confident of the effect (negative or otherwise) that drinking Diet Coke might ultimately have on my overall health and well-being. That being said, why take any chances? After doing a fair amount of reading, I have found numerous studies that suggest how unhealthy this stuff is for me (there is documentation of artificial sweeteners being linked to conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s Disease and dimensia to obesity and diabetes), so I have opted to err on the side of caution and stop consuming it. 
At the start, I honestly discounted just how difficult quitting would be. I was only a self-described moderate Diet Coke drinker at my worst, consuming somewhere around three on the average day, or probably closer to four on the days when I indulged in fountain drinks while eating out. 
Somewhere in the midst of week one of quitting my habit, I was driving down the street, and there they stood: the famed Golden Arches, beckoning me to come in and indulge in my $1 Diet Coke fix. (Those were always my biggest downfall.)

At that moment, I caught myself thinking, “Really. It’s only Diet Coke. Calorie-free! Maybe it won’t hurt to just drink it every once in a while…”
Whoa, Amy. After I fought back the urge to throw caution to the wind and swing through the drive-though (go me!), it was then that I truly realized the scope of my Diet Coke habit, and just how hard it was going to be to kick it for good.
I assure you that my point in writing today isn’t to preach the evils of artificial sweeteners. You can read more about them on your own and form your own conclusions. What I want to focus on today is sharing some of the things I’ve done to make it through the challenges I’ve encountered during these initial weeks (two solid weeks, to be exact!) without Diet Coke, to help any of you wanting to kick your own diet soda habit.

Tip #1
Get rid of all of the diet soda in your immediate vicinity.
This might seem obvious, but the more access you have to Diet Coke, the more likely you are to succumb to your cravings. There are times when doing this just isn’t feasible, as when you work in an office setting where vending machines abound, or if someone else in your family is a diet soda drinker. Which leads to tip #2…
Tip #2
Enlist the support of family and friends.
If you and your significant other, roommate or best friend both have a diet soda habit, try to convince him or her to quit along with you. This will not only enable you to eliminate diet soda from your surroundings, ultimately greatly improving your chances of success, but it will also give you a great element of support to rely on when you inevitably experience a moment of weakness and want to give up. My hubby was very supportive from the get-go, as he had already stopped drinking any diet beverages well over a year ago and had been hounding me to follow suit ever since. (Smart guy!) 


Tip #3
Don’t cut out caffeine cold turkey.
Because many diet sodas contain caffeine, I highly recommend finding a beverage to enjoy that will help compensate for the caffeine you’ll be losing by not drinking them anymore. Once I stopped having my daily Diet Coke fix in the afternoon, I found myself literally cratering by about 4 pm. I’m not too proud to admit that as a busy mom of four kiddos, I do need a little caffeine pick-me-up in the afternoon! 
Suddenly decreasing caffeine consumption can cause all sorts of ugly side effects, ranging from irritability and fatigue to headaches. No fun at all! Now, instead of cracking open a can of Diet Coke when I hit the afternoon doldrums, I’ve started sipping on a cup of coffee or green tea.

Tip #4
Identify your diet soda triggers and do something to counter them. 
With just about any habit, there tend to be situations that trigger one to engage in the behavior. In the case of my Diet Coke habit, those triggers were riding in the car and fast food. I’ve always liked to grab a Diet Coke to take along to ball practices and appointments, and over time, I’ve gotten very used to always having something to sip while I’m on the road. I discovered naturally-flavored canned sparkling seltzer water from Kroger is a great alternative. It is still portable and convenient, and it still allows me the satisfaction of cracking open a can for something nice and fizzy.
When it comes to my fast food trigger, my solution is simple: I know eating fast food is one of my worst triggers, and I am trying to set myself up for success by avoiding it. Whereas I used to swing through the drive-through to pick up lunch (and a large Diet Coke!) once a week, we have started eating lunch prepared at home every day. Healthier eating is becoming an unintended consequence of quitting Diet Coke, which is absolutely fine by me!
Tip #5
Find new beverages to enjoy, and always have them on hand.
Quitting Diet Coke doesn’t mean you will only be able to drink water for the rest of your life. It is admittedly challenging to find low-calorie, all-natural alternatives, but it can be done! I mentioned earlier that I have been sipping on green tea and coffee, and also sparkling seltzer water. If seltzer water on its own isn’t palatable to you, liven it up with a healthy squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice, or try using it to dilute all-natural fruit juices to make a yummy spritzer.
Needing some more beverage inspiration?
My sweet friend Kellie over at Nest of Posies has some delicious spritzer-making ideas. That coconut water is on my list for something to pick up during my next Target run.

Or how about some Peach and Mint Iced Tea
…or some Tangerine Mint Green Tea? (This stuff is purported by none-other than Dr. Oz to have weight-loss benefits galore!)

Have you managed to kick a diet soda habit? Do you have any tips for success?
Thanks for stopping in!

23 Responses to 5 Tips for Quitting Diet Soda

  1. Laura August 21, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    It’s hard, right? I can do it for months at a time but then I fall back. I only have one a day, usually. Last spring I allowed myself two a week and I did fine. I need to try that again (something about never having diet coke again is hard for me psychologically, I guess. When I know I can have it occasionally, I am okay.) I guess I need to start liking iced tea. Good luck!

  2. I quit for a few weeks and always fall back too! I am a fan of seltzer water and usually substitute that when I stop. My greatest downfall is “rewarding” myself with diet soda after I haven’t had it for awhile (“You’ve been really good! You can buy just one bottle this week and then you’ll stop again, ok?”) But, I don’t stop again. It’s a slippery slope that leads me to drinking it everyday again! THanks for the tips and “support” 🙂 I’m going to try this for real this time!

  3. Karen August 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Amy – hang in there – pretty soon you won’t even miss it!! I kicked my diet coke habit almost 3 years ago and am so happy I did! I, too, did it for the reasons you did. My daughter had done a research project about artificial sweeteners and begged me for weeks after to stop drinking it. (that was my choice of beverage from morning to night – absolutely nothing else!!) so I did it for her and the health benefits. I am now an iced tea drinker (I HATE plain water so much!) but I drink my tea with very little sugar – just enough to taste! When we do eat out I never get the tea fully sweet. I ask the server (or if fast food do it myself) to make my glass half sweet, half unsweet! Even the beloved golden arches will do it for you!!!

    It was really hard at first (I was addicted to the fizz that I just can’t get with tea!!) and some days I still crave a big old fizzy drink – but at this point I don’t drink soda at all. You can do it and will be so happy you did!!
    Good Luck!!

  4. Sara August 21, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    I’m really enjoying the flavored green tea mixes from Lipton and Crystal Light. Crystal Light has an energy flavored drink mix too. I find I need caffeine around 4pm to get through the evening and those have been helping.
    Not having it around is big! I didn’t have any coke the other weekend because we were staying at the in laws and they didn’t have any. Out of sight out of mind.
    And yes McDonald’s is hard to pass up! Good job!!

  5. Ally August 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    I can’t do it. I’m hooked on coke zero and I’m ashamed to say, I’m something of a pusher and have gotten other people hopelessly hooked as well. Nothing satisfies like a cold, fizzy coke zero. And if I were to quit, the sugar in the “alternate” choices would make me gain weight immediately.

  6. Amanda @ Serenity Now August 21, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Good for you! I have 1 regular Coke a day for the same reasons you were drinking the Diet Coke. I need that caffeine boost in the afternoon. :s I’ve quit cold turkey when I was pregnant with the girls both times, and had major headaches. :s I’m not a fan of coffee or seltzer water, but I do like regular water…so maybe I just need to drink that! 🙂

    Thanks for being an inspiration!! It is SO tempting to drive by McDonalds and Chick-fil-a and not get a Coke. :s

  7. Jennifer @ Delightfully Noted August 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    I’m a one a day diet coke drinker and my hubby sends me every article under the moon about the affects of the artificial sweetners. I know sometimes I should care more about the risk but like you I always think this is my only vice,it could be worse!

  8. Jennifer @ Delightfully Noted August 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    Oops, submitted before I was done anyways I do need to find the willpower to quit! I am just not huge on water when I eat and never cared for seltzer water:) Thanks for this post though!

  9. Melanie@Crafty Cupboard August 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    While dating, my husband informed me he didnt’ drink caffeine- while I was drinking my beloved Dr Pepper. And that was the end of that habit! Years later, after a botched spinal for a c-section, I had an awful spinal headache. The Dr. suggested drinking lots of caffeine, since it effected the blood vessels to my brain. That confirmed my desire to avoid caffeine- no messing with my brain blood! I am, however, addicted to milk 🙂
    I’m excited for you that you could have a desire to stop, and actually do so! Congrats.

  10. Simple Simon & Co August 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Dude, you are a ninja. I drink Dr.Pepper everyday—one in the morning and one in the afternoon—but it’s not diet, it’s the real thing…
    Anyways, I’ve been trying to cut out the afternoon soda and it’s hard!
    Good luck and good tips!

  11. BonnieH August 21, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    I quit drinking soda…diet or otherwise, about 6.5 years ago. I made up my mind that cold turkey was the only way I could do it. I only drank one or two a day, so it was likely a bit easier to substitute just plain (purified) water than to sub other caffeine laden beverages. We installed a water purification system in our home, so I have reverse osmosis on tap, as well as the ice makers and hot water dispenser.
    I have my “to go” cups, so as I head out the door, I fill with purified ice and water!
    I would strongly suggest that you work toward making water your bev of choice for apparent health reasons.
    Good luck in your noble endeavor!

  12. Kim (TheMoney-Pit) August 21, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    I’m an addict too.. Especially in places like restaurants where fountain drinks are the only beverage choices, besides water. I always feel like if I am PAYING for a drink with my meal, I am not doing to substitute in water. I do think about trying to give it up, but often the substitutes people suggest (plain seltzer or iced tear) aren’t appealing/satisfying and things that hit the sweet craving (crystal light or diet teas) also have fake sugar. The final option (sweetened teas or fruit juice) are so calorie laden, that as someone who battles her weight, I would honestly rather have fake sugar than real sugar. So I end up back with diet soda. Some days I even add a little liquor to make it even better! 😉

  13. OLS August 22, 2012 at 3:09 am #

    I was addicted to Tab (an oldie time Coke product) and Diet Pepsi. When I decided to quit smoking 15 plus years ago I knew the soda had to go too because it was a smoking trigger for me….that was the first thing I had in the morning, a soda and cigarette! Yuck! I think quitting them at the same time diminished the importance of the soda since the cigarettes were much harder for me to quit. I found a really good book about kicking cigarettes at my local library (it was ancient) but it had great advice and I’ll never forget how it helped me. Changing my routine was key, including substituting water for soda, one drink at a time. Eventually I eliminated both from my life and now I’m a water addict! I still drink soda but on rare ocassions. You will be able to kick the diet soda habit too, it may take several tries to find what works best for you to make it permanent so don’t give up if you have a “slip”.

  14. MamaZ August 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    Good for you!

    We are lucky to have great tasting well water, but it can get a bit boring. I found some TrueLemon in the grocery store recently and tried that. Fabulous! It comes in little packets, like sweetners, and I can take it with me when I go out to eat. No more sugars, caffeine or bland drinks. It also comes in lime, orange and grapefruit. AND….I’ve lost some wait by staying away from the sugary drinks! (Not affiliated in anyway with TrueCitrus products, just passing on the info.)

    Keep up you good work, it gets better the longer you try.

  15. MamaZ August 22, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

    ~weight~ not wait. Proof reading is a good thing.

  16. Vicki August 23, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    Due to a recent diet I have been on, I too have been two weeks without DC. The biggest shock for me was how addicted to it I really was. I really didn’t think I had a problem with it until it was gone. I still have moments where I think I need one… but they pass. One thing I recently found out was that Aspertame (sp) aparently builds in your system and takes a long time to go away. I enjoyed reading your blog about it. Keep up the great work.

  17. Rustic Kitsch August 23, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    I will be using this post as my ecouragement while I try to kick the diet coke ………. oh man this is gonna suck

  18. Richella August 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    Honestly, we’d all probably be better off just having a regular Coke than a Diet Coke. But I kicked the regular Coke habit years ago when my teeth were suffering!! Ugh.

    I will say that I absolutely LOVE Pellegrino, especially with a slice of lemon or lime. I also love iced tea, and luckily for me I like it unsweetened. I grew up in the South, but my mother was from Kansas, and she did not make sweet tea!! So I like the unsweetened kind.

    Here’s a tip: keep a few Excedrin (or generic equivalent) in your purse. That way, if you’re ever really in need of a caffeine pick-me-up, you’ve got a source of caffeine right at hand. (Excedrin contains aspirin, acetaminophen {Tylenol}, and caffeine.) If you’re at afternoon sports practice, for instance, you can forego the sodas for water–but you might need a bit of caffeine. One Excedrin tablet would be good for that scenario. Or if you have a headache, two Excedrin tablets work wonders!

    I’m going to check out the Kroger sparkling waters. Thanks for the tip!

  19. Al@PolkaDotsandPaisley August 24, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    I also had a diet coke addiction. I was hospitalized about five years ago and, as part of the medical condition, I was told by the doc to give up caffeine. It was so hard that my boyfriend (now husband) actually snuck a can into the hospital for me one evening. It’s been years now and I don’t miss it any more. Stick with it!

  20. The Landfair Family August 30, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    Woohoo! I’m so proud of you, kiddo. I don’t have to tell you this, but I’ve been addicted to the stuff for many, many years. I used to say that in a flippant way but it’s really no joke: I bottomed out about six months ago when I stopped at a convenience store at 7:30 in the morning after dropping Andy off at school solely to buy Diet Coke because the thought of going without it for a few hours gave me a panic attack. Yeah.

    I can’t remember if I told you, but my friend Dana has discovered that her fibromyalgia is triggered by/made worse because of Aspertame. The doctors laughed at her when she brought it up, but I believe her 100%.

    I hope that Splenda is really a better alternative, because the Sodastream drinks have helped “bridge the gap.” I’m working on liking water, but I’m not sure it’s possible.

    I wonder if diet soda obsessions run in families? 🙂

  21. The Landfair Family August 30, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. Susan Waller July 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned adding fresh fruit to your water (lemon, lime, or orange slices, etc.).

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