Before I begin, this isn’t going to be a post telling everyone why they should give up Diet Coke and how bad it is for you. I’ve been subjected to that rant on a number of occasions and think the delivery of that message is probably why I’ve almost defended my Diet Coke addiction so many times to family and friends.
This is more a story of what my experience of giving up aspartame has been like so far and why I decided to sack it off in the first place.
I used to drink a lot of Diet Coke, which started when I was around 16 / 17. I was only allowed fizzy drinks as a child for special occasions, we never had them in the house and I was always repulsed by the taste and furry teeth feeling of normal Coke. I worked near a corner shop which always sold multi-packs for cheap and struggling with the whole ‘having to get out of bed at 8am every day and do a day’s work’ thing I would ply myself with caffeine. I used to drink several cans of Red Bull a day which is horrifying in retrospect but thankfully that weird habit stopped pretty soon and the smell of the stuff now turns my stomach.
Fast forward a decade and I’ve consistently carried on drinking it pretty much every day, often several cans a day and at least once a week 6 or so cans a day. My love of aspartame drinks has extended to Dr Pepper Zero, Fanta Zero, anything with Zero on the end which fizzes.
Throughout the years it’s prevented me from sleeping, which I combat by drinking more caffeine / Diet Coke the next day. It makes me shaky on some days, have a weird washed out nauseous feeling and gives me a feeling akin to low blood sugar at about 3pm most days, yet I’ve continued drinking it.
When you crave food and think how much you would love a slice of pizza for example, you imagine the way the food looks and tastes. Diet Coke is brown water with chemicals in, there’s nothing natural near it and it comes in a metal tin, when I think about it I can’t even imagine how it tastes which is strange given how much of it I’ve drank. It doesn’t look or taste particularly crave worthy and yet anyone who drinks it regularly will know you crave it all the time; Signal one that there’s something very wrong here.
I’ve become far more aware of what we put in our bodies in the past year. I’ve cut right back on sugar and cook from scratch each day so I know full well what I’m consuming. Breaking some old habits has had a huge impact on my weight loss (far more than dieting ever did, although that’s another post for another time), both in terms of what I’m eating and regaining control back over the situation.
Diet Coke is the obvious missing link here, as it’s known to make you crave food. I’ve used it a lot as an appetite suppressant although ironically it’s probably had the opposite effect. It’s chemically, horrible and I knew I wanted to stop drinking it, but I’ve tried several times in the past to no avail.
I’ve always seen it as the lesser evil when compared to over eating, but now everything is more in it’s place, Diet Coke is the last thing to tackle which means there are no more excuses and no reason to keep doing this.
About 8 days ago I decided abruptly I would try it again, almost expecting myself to fail too. What’s happened since though has cemented my opinion firmly and helped make sure that I really stick to this longterm. I’ve had aspartame / caffeine withdrawal symptoms which are just plain horrible. I’ve had a banging headache all day, every day and even at night since I stopped drinking it. A quick Google informs me that this could last for 30 days … Joy!
Realising how it’s effected my brain and that it has the power to cause physical symptoms is frightening to me. It felt completely innocent, as it was just a drink I enjoyed, it’s not as though I was sniffing glue or drinking vodka throughout the working day but yet I’m having withdrawals from it. I’ve also noticed I can’t get my words out properly and feel sluggish, which I’ve since found out are all of symptoms of aspartame withdrawal.
The connection is completely broken now, I don’t look at it and think how much I would love to drink it, or even remember what it tastes or felt like. The headaches and weird feelings alone are enough to put me off for life, although I hope they go away soon.
I’m sure that this will have a positive effect on food cravings, my resting heart rate, sleep and anxiety but I’ll check in at the end of the year as at the moment all I can really offer are my first impressions.
I’m really curious if anyone reading this has experienced something similar? Or drinks a lot of Diet Coke and has considered stopping?