Meet the Female Charlie Sheen


diet pepsiYou know your relationship has reached "official" status when your special someone starts being tagged in your Facebook pictures. And there she is. My Diet Pepsi bottle. She's on the floor beside me, still in my pajamas, on Christmas morning. There, in my hand at a kid's birthday party. And there, a giant cup full of the wet devil in front of me at a restaurant outing with the fam.

This week, as I reached for my 2-liter bottle, nestled on the floor right beside my desk so my dog can't knock it over, it hit me. I'm the female Charlie Sheen. I'm 100 percent addicted to something, and I'm not in the least bit sorry about it. In fact, to borrow some phrasing from old Charlie: "I have banged back seven 20-ounce bottles and finished them because that's how I roll."

I wasn't one of those women raised on diet soda as a regular mom-to-daughter/woman-to-woman secret. Soda was forbidden in my childhood home in favor of the more wholesome milks and juices. My childhood obesity was caused by a mess of other factors: complete lack of coordination that kept me out of sports, a household where dessert was served with every meal, a childhood depression that went undiagnosed for many years.

Fast-forward to bulimia. And years of binging. Followed by purging. Followed by binging. And you're getting the picture. I started drinking diet soda about the time I stopped purging for one simple reason: It kept me from binging.

It wasn't about losing weight. It was about a flavor running across my tongue, about something sloshing around in my stomach to give me that feeling of fullness. Today I am about 20 pounds overweight and working to get that back off. But I haven't thrown up in years. I don't throw up for my daughter. But I can keep from throwing up because of the diet soda. The diet soda that has held me back so many times from chewing through a bag of Twizzlers or a pound block of cheese.

These days I start with a 2-liter bottle after my morning visit to the bathroom. One fresh bottle, pulled straight from the fridge. As the bubbly brown mixture washes over my lips, I can feel my shoulders drop, my breath slow. It is at once my caffeine injection (ahem, coffee drinkers) and that bit of sweetness that dulls the bright lights of morning just enough for my night owl habits. It's therapy in a long, slightly unwieldy bottle.

Throughout the morning, I'll draw that same 2-liter bottle to my lips again and again, until finally it's drained completely, and I debate. Is there another one in the fridge? Do I really have to switch to water? On my good days, I make the switch, and it will be the straight-from-the-ground clear stuff for the rest of the day (with maybe a glass of wine around dinnertime ... maybe). Then there are the bad days. The "I can't concentrate without another hit of caffeine to keep my mind fresh" days, the days when I'm so hungry that I could eat through the cabinets in my kitchen. It's time for another 2-liter.

We're not as rare a breed as you might think, the diet soda addicts. According to a recent CNN report, "people who drink diet beverages average more than 26 ounces per day (some drink far more) and that 3 percent of diet-soda drinkers have at least four daily." (Four what, I'm not sure -- four 20-ounce bottles? Four 2-liter bottles? Oh, I've been there.) But that same report warns of all the terrors of diet soda, the horrors that should leave me ashamed, apologetic, fighting to kick the habit, to save myself from my taste for carbonated brown syrup in plastic bottles. But I'm not apologizing.

Maybe I'm worse than Charlie Sheen. He claims he's sober. I'm never kicking the habit. And I'm betting everyone's got their own habit they'll cling to until the day they die. So come on, spill, what's your dirty little addiction?


Image via Marcin Wichary/Flickr

eating healthy, diets, drinking


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bills... billsfan1104

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHH. I love this. I am a diet Pepsi addict. I can drink the 4 2-liter bottles a day. That part made me laugh. But since I joined weight watchers, to get this 70lbs off, that I gained from chemo, I am down to a paltry 1-20oz bottle a day. And then come Ash Wednesday, I am done with soda for Lent. Can you drink a bottle for me, Ms Sager??? I am so going to miss my friend. She was a familiar and great friend to me, during chemo and group therapy. I am soooooo going to miss her.

mommix4 mommix4

Mine was diet coke oh how I miss it. I was up to 2 12 packs a day. Then I was diagnosed with 15 ulcers. I had to stop and that was 5 yrs ago. Every once in awhile ill have a sip but then my stomach starts twisting and I have to stop. Its really sad :(

PonyC... PonyChaser

Mine was Mt. Dew.  I scared myself when I went through a case in about three days.  When the "Throwback" variety came out, I switched because it really was the Mt. Dew I remembered from my childhood, and voila! The addiction was gone.  That need to have one can after another after another just disappeared.  One can satisfied my cravings for something sweet.  I swear it's the real sugar vs the hfcs.  I have no scientific proof to back this up, only my own experience, but there you go.

Now I drink water, mostly.  But every now and again, I give in to the Dew Monster, and if it's the "new" stuff, I can feel the addiction building with the first sip.


I don't have any addictions... there really isn't anything I can't go for a day or week or whatever without.  Oh wait,  I lie.  Sleep.  I am addicted to sleep.   I hope you can get your soda addiction kicked!!

Amyin... AmyinMotown

NO shame in that....I used t be majorly hooked on Diet Coke in my younger days. Now, I cannot judge because the idea of getting through a busy day without coffee gives me the shakes.

ladys... ladysylpher

Im addicted to Coca Cola  (not the diet stuff eeewww)  but  for right now Ive given it up while Im pregnant.  And like my last pregnancy I say I wont go back............. but I will and I know its TERRIBLY bad for me and Im wracked with guilt but I will probably be drinking it up until the day I die.   *sigh* 

Ataem... Ataemommy

I find it disturbing that you're hooked on a substance known to cause tumors, and make no apologies, despite what sort of impact it may have on your family should you suffer negative health benefits. We would call any heroin addict a total asshole for having this mindset. Why are you different? Because it's socially acceptable, tasty and cheap?


Chris Crawford

Oh I have found my friend. I never purged, but I did binge. Diet soda replaced the binging. You can tell me how disgusting I am, but show me the evidence that my diet soda addiction is worse than obesity. We all have our issues, diet coke is mine.

nonmember avatar ElizabethTX

I can't believe someone equated a Diet Pepsi addiction to heroin! Wow! For one thing, Diet Pepsi isn't illegal and she's not risking jail time to drink it. For another, I'm pretty sure it costs waaay less. Also, last time I checked drinking Diet Pepsi doesn't keep people from going about their daily lives like an addiction to heroin would. Lay off!

sodapple sodapple

at this point no addiction, but hubby loves LOVES fanta, orange soda.

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