Two of the most popular search terms that direct people to my blog are “Diet Coke addiction” and “Diet Coke Stomachache.” Unlike some of the funnier search terms that lead readers my way, Diet Coke addiction (and stomachache) is something that I’ve actually written about and struggled with.
It’s been five months since I gave up Diet Coke. For full disclosure, I’ve probably had two during that time – one because I was really tired at a family function but wanted to stay awake and the second was in a mixed drink. But aside from those times, I have not had any soda at all, Diet Coke or otherwise.
I have a really sensitive stomach. Unfortunately, “My stomach hurts” is part of my day-to-day vocabulary. Artificial sweeteners and carbonation to do a number on me, in partiuclar. And what is Diet Coke? Carbonated artificial sweetener.
Despite my awful stomachaches, I continued to drink it. This is how I knew that I had a problem. It was really hurting my stomach, yet I couldn’t stop. One day, when the pain was especially bad, I said enough is enough and quit cold turkey. That was back in May and, aside from the two times that I mentioned, that was the end.
It’s been hard. I feel so silly saying that. This is soda, not hard drugs! But it’s true. Diet Coke was sort of my crutch. It was go-to when I wanted a pick me up or when I wanted a snack but I really wasn’t hungry. Sometimes I just craved it.
I have a few things that worked in my favor when it came to quitting though. One of which is the stomachaches, but the second is, like most soda drinkers, I prefer to drink it a certain way. I know a lot of people really like soda out of the fountain. My preference was always the 20 oz or 16.9 oz plastic bottles. It just tasted better to me out of a plastic bottle (but not the 2 liter bottle). I never really liked Diet Coke in the can. There is a soda machine in the break room of my office that sells cans, but that wasn’t quite as tempting as it would have been if there was a machine that sold bottles.
People told me that it would get easier. And in a way it has. I’m used to drinking water when I’m going out to lunch. I drink tea in the middle of the day now. I don’t think about getting a soda anymore. But there are still times when I want one. When I do, I just think about all those days when I was crouched over in the office bathroom feeling like my stomach was going to explode, all the Pepto-Bismol that I was popping and the craving subsides some.
Have my stomach problems gone away? Not entirely, but they are SO MUCH better. It’s been five months and soon it will be six, and then a year and then drinking soda will just be something that I used do a long time ago.
I’d love to say that I gave it up because it was bad for me, that I didn’t want to put chemicals in my body, but the reason I stopped drinking it was simply because it hurt my stomach. Whatever the reason was, I don’t drink soda anymore and consequently, I’m reaping the health benefits of not being a soda drinker, whatever they may be. While the jury is out to whether or not artificial sweeteners are harmful or not, there is no nutritional value in them whatsoever.