The Diet Coke Break Hunk, the sexy gardener, Taylor Swift and the case of magically appearing kittens the pill box red, the promise of no sugar, no calories, no regret. Let’s face it Diet Coke is the 20th century marvel of marketing. Yet step away from the clever advertising and stylish packaging, the dangers of the diet soda are far too publicised to ignore. Ignore is exactly what I did though, for almost two decades.
Aspartame may be linked to cancer… Who cares? Sweeteners confuse your brain making it think you’ve had sugar leading to fat storage… Whatever… Diet soda consumption can lead to type 2 diabetes and even heart disease… Yeah yeah… It wasn’t as if I hadn’t heard of all the danger of drinking Diet Coke, it’s just that, I simply couldn’t care less.
For me, Diet Coke wasn’t even a ‘no calorie’ make-do option to the real thing either; having grown up in a home which forbade any fizzy drinks, my introduction to soda wasn’t until the age of 12 through high school friends who were guzzling Diet Coke for fear the real thing and piling on the pounds. Hence, without a taste of Coca Cola, I was already down the slippery slope to Diet Coke addiction. An addiction that was so firmly rooted that in my twenties breakfast consisted of a can of the good stuff and a pack of cheese biscuits.
Fast forward 17 years, and finally, in a bid to embrace the #cleaneating lifestyle, I decided to cut out all food that did not contribute to my wellbeing; out went the mindless post-midnight snacks, thoughtlessly digging into a pack of crisps on the evening commute to stave off hunger, the Grande latte in the morning with 300+ mg of caffeine and 300+ calories; and high on the list was Diet Coke. Yes, perhaps it didn’t contribute any calories or sugar to my daily intake but neither did it add any nutritional value, so it had to go.
Go cold turkey
Like any addict weaning of their poison of choice, I knew the only way was to go cold turkey. No half measures there, if this was going to work, I had to give up once and for all. So out went all the cans of coke where I had start with a clean slate, ie. fridge.
Replace with healthier alternatives
Nutribullet came into my life around this time, initially to crack on morning coffee habit. Tired of spending £2-3 every day and feeding myself empty calories in return, I decided that the only way was to replace the morning take-away coffee with a home-made smoothie. Soon enough I was carrying an extra flask to work to fight off mid-afternoon Diet Coke cravings. Likewise out shopping, if I was ever tempted to reach for the Diet Coke can I would consciously redirect my hand towards healthier drinks.
Get the timing right
Admittedly, your journey to crack diet soda addiction will be a lot smoother if you don’t start summertime when the living is easy, the weather is hot, and all you want is an ice cold Diet Coke. I started in early spring and found the first 21-28 days it takes to break a habit easier for it was still hot drinks season with temptations few and far between.
Five months on, my biggest challenge came in the shape of the all-inclusive seaside summer getaway with instant access to fizzy drinks on tap. Previous holidays I would mindlessly fill up my cup drinking up to probably 2lt Diet Coke a day, with the excuse that it was hot and I was on holiday. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted. Oh hell, I was, especially in the company of an 18-year-old who drank her weight in Coca Cola. I had to be resolute, remind myself of how far I had come and reach for the bottle of water each time I craved a cold drink.
Remind yourself your body is your temple
As cliché as it sounds, our bodies are ur temples, and we only realise much later than good for us in life, we should treat them with care and kindness. I think of all the bad eating and drinking habits and how much damage they may have already had on my body and my life expectancy and feel glad that better late than never I have given up on something that is essentially not beneficial or nutritious in any way. And every time I am tempted by the sight of that silver and red can, I remind myself this cliché.