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My Diet Soda Addiction Was Ruining My Life

by Jeanne Sager on November 16, 2012 at 9:13 AM

diet sodaDo you ever look at those people in the supermarket with a cart full of soda and wonder if they're throwing a party or if they're really going to drink all of that? That used to be me. It was diet soda, but still, every week I'd pull up to the register with some 10 to 12 bottles of soda in my cart. I was a diet soda addict and caffeine addict, all in one little 5'4" body.

Yes, you can be addicted to diet soda, and I'm living proof. At one point I was drinking two a day. Two liters a day, that is. I did the math once, and that's about 193 gallons of diet soda a year.

I know!! Now that I don't drink any soda at all, I look at that number, and it makes me slightly sick.

If that doesn't prove people can be addicted to soda, how about this? For years (yes, this went on for years), I couldn't function without drinking that much. I would get headaches. I would get slightly desperate if I saw our soda stock was running low.

And all for some brown-colored caramel with bubbles. And the caffeine, of course. The wonderful, wake me up and help me function caffeine.

For years, I denied it was a problem. My favorite saying was, "Well, something's going to kill me. It might as well be something I enjoy."

Which makes the fact that I finally kicked the diet soda habit somewhat shocking. At least it is to people who know me. I've run into more than a few in the months since I cut out the carbonated beverage who did a double take when I broke the news.

So how did I do it?

Maybe the bigger question is why. Since I gave birth to my daughter seven years ago, I've had issues with acid reflux (long story, but take a bulimic, add a pregnancy condition known as hyperemisis gravidarum, and you've got a ravaged esophagus). But this past summer, the medicine for it suddenly stopped working.

No matter what I ate or how much I slept or how much medicine I popped, the awful pain wouldn't go away. I was desperate -- about as desperate as I used to be when I was in need of a diet soda fix.

So when I read that caffeinated products could cause heartburn, I didn't care anymore. I was DESPERATE.

So I stopped. Just like that. I didn't even switch to caffeine-free soda (I'd tried that in the past, but like a smoker thinking light cigarettes will help wean them off, it didn't help). I just went cold turkey. And yes, it sucked. I had awful withdrawal headaches, and I wanted to sleep for days.

I knew I had to slake my constant thirst, so I started making seltzer with my at-home SodaStream (there's something about buying water that just bothers my frugal sensibilities). It helped significantly -- both the action of drinking the way I always had and the fact that I had something bubbly so it was at least somewhat similar to what I had before.

In a few days, the headaches disappeared, along with the fatigue. I've kept it that way. I haven't replaced it with coffee or Red Bull or some other stimulant. The heartburn is gone. I'm sleeping better. And to add to all the health benefits, I'm not spending all that money on diet soda every week. You never realize quite how much you were spending until you quit!

How much soda do you drink? Have you ever really done the math?


Image via Dano/Flickr

Filed Under: bad habits, energy & fatigue


  • KAV1970


    November 16, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Congratulations! Your body is going to love you for it - especially since you're drinking water!

  • Foley...


    November 16, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    Oh my god, I am right there with you! I used to drink about a liter of caf-free diet coke a day... and it is STILL addicting, even without the caffeine! I'm down to one 20 oz every other day, and I'm trying to quit all together (but I slip up a lot). It's really hard!

  • Kzint...


    November 16, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    I used to drink a 12 pack of Diet Dr. Pepper per day, or three 2-liter bottles a day, depending on the form factor that I had with me at the time.  I literally had a Diet Dr. Pepper with me at all times.  When I decided to really go on a low-carb diet, I switched to Diet Rite, which has no sodium, no caffeine, no carbs and no aspartame.  Around that same time, I realized that aspartame has or becomes DLPA, which is a supplement that I also took to increase concentration.  Again, around the same time, I read that DLPA can cause anxiety in some people, and stopped taking DLPA while I stopped drinking aspartame.  That made a huge difference in my life - I had been scared of so many things that I can now do without a problem, such as high overpasses, etc.  It didn't remove all anxiety, but it helped tremendously.  

    When I switched to Diet Rite, though, I found that it was not easy to find in all places.  When I had a project in New York City, I researched and found that it was not sold in New York City, so I paid for an extra bag to haul four 12 packs on the plane with me each week.  

    Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with colon cancer, though, and pretty much swore off carbonated beverages altogether.  I still stay away from aspartame in anything, though.

  • SuzyB...


    November 16, 2012 at 10:50 AM
    I was definately not drinking as much as some of the other posters but when my 2nd baby was about 6 months old I found I was drinking coffee in the am and then diet coke the rest of the day and by 3pm I would be dead to the world and have a serious headache and super thirsty as well. I felt like I was on a hamster wheel and never felt energized. Finally one day I quit and drank water all day after my coffee in the morning. I also stopped all artificial sweetener and stopped eating things that were super fake. For example I stopped eating baked chips and ate the real thing instead. Now if I ever faulter and give in to a diet coke I get an intense stomach and back pain and have only drank like half of it. Once my hubby bought baked Cheetos and I hadn't had them in so long that I caved and had a handful. Well I ended up throwing up for 6 hours. About 6 days later I had another handful of baked Cheetos and the same thing happened! Something about fake shit that just doesn't agree with the human body!
  • bills...


    November 16, 2012 at 10:53 AM
    I am trying. Like you, I can pound down 2-2liter diet pepsi. I am getting better. But I cant shake it.
  • Chalo...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Chalon King

    November 16, 2012 at 11:58 AM
    OMG Diet Soda is one of the worst things for your is a nuerotoxin and causes cancer.
  • Chalo...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Chalon King

    November 16, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Opps posted before I finished and spell checked.....Please Please Please stay away from diet sodas and sugar free gum.....especially the gum for the kids.  No wonder so many people are getting cancer and sick.  That amazes me so many people have a diet soda addiction, it tastes so gross to me.  I switched to unsweetened iced tea years ago for my caffeine fix...and coffee.  I can't give that up, but least coffee is more or less good for you and actually used as a natural cancer treatment (gertzen diet)

  • Keira
    -- Nonmember comment from


    November 16, 2012 at 12:11 PM
    Buying all that soda didn't bother your frugal sensibilities? It took all those health issues to get you to quit? If you hadn't read about the link between caffeine and heartburn you would still be guzzling diet soda? Just look at the ingredients in it, doesn't take even a somewhat informed person to realize that it's bad for you. There have been numerous articles published on the health risks of drinking both soda and diet soda.
  • peach...


    November 19, 2012 at 7:20 PM
    Working full time and in school full time plus kids. I drink about 4-6 20oz sodas a day:(
  • Miche...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Michelle Carrigan

    November 19, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    Why does it have to be diet soda that is addicting.  Sure its not just the caffiene in it?  I'm not addicted but I drink lots of pop but none with caffiene

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