I remember as a kid when I would see my mom drinking diet coke after school, I could not wait to try it. The first time I tried it, I remember falling in love with its crisp carbonated deliciousness and as I got older into my teen years, I would drink diet sodas, why you might ask? Well, because I knew, like EVERYONE knows, that if I drank diet soda I would not be consuming all of the calories in the regular stuff, so I could drink as many as I wanted without taking in all of those empty calories. Sounds too good to be true right? (that is because it is.)
I got to the point in my early teens that I would drink 5-6 cans a day, this went up when I was able to drive at 16 because I was then able to go to movies and drive throughs. Even though I was not drinking sugary sodas, I was consuming let’s be honest here, some days almost 60 ounces of diet coke a day! After getting diagnosed with type 1, I continued to drink about the same amount of diet soda. Interestingly I never once had a doctor tell me to stop drinking it, to limit how much of it I drank, or really question me about it because I said I didn’t drink regular soda, this meant no sugar no problem in their eyes sadly.
All through my undergrad, I took advantage of the refillable soda machines in the dining halls, and my Costco membership where I could 32 packs for cheap! When I graduated and started working, my energy would slump in the afternoons, so a friend of mine and I would go to 7-11 and get a big gulp of Diet Dr.Pepper, this paired with the 4 or 5 cans I would have that were supplied at the office, and the can or two I might have when I went home, or if I went out for dinner a few more glasses brought my consumption some days up to 100 or more ounces a day! To say I had an addiction to diet soda would be an understatement at this point.
While living in San Francisco, I would drink my diet soda and work on my homework in my master’s program. These long hours of homework fueled my need for more soda. In 2012 when I decided that I wanted to turn my life around and really get my health in order, I started walking longer and longer distances, and then by May decided that it was time to kick this diet soda habit once and for all. I had of course read all of the health reasons not to drink diet sodas, but really did not think I had a problem until I actually stopped drinking them.
May 17 2012 was the last time I had a diet soda. I gave it up cold turkey, and I really was alright with it, because I switched to drinking more water and propel. About three months into what I thought to be aspartame free life, I went into Safeway to stock up on yogurt for the week, and say that the Yoplait I had always had said on the front “now no aspartame”. I was so confused, I didn’t know that it was in my yogurt! I turned over an older package that did not say that and sure enough, there it was on the label! My first thought was that I could have been drinking diet coke this whole time, but really it was the point that I learned that if you are giving something up, you must read labels.
Previous packaging I was purchasing:
New packaging I noticed the message:
Once I started reading labels and really not consuming aspartame, I started to sleep more soundly through the night, I did not get as many headaches (I would get headaches 4-5 days a week previously) and the biggest change was the scale started to move again! I was finally starting to lose weight, even though I was not consuming all of these “sugar free” “low calorie” foods. I also noticed that my insulin sensitivity was improving!
The interesting thing about aspartame for me, was that when I tried a sip of my husband’s diet coke at a movie a few months ago, I almost spit out the drink! This sweet carbonated thing I found delicious that I could not get enough of is now undrinkable to me. Your tastebuds change when you are consuming these artificial sweeteners, so when you go without them and then go back to them later on, the taste will be different. By giving up aspartame, I also found that I was not craving sweets as much, which was plain crazy because I always had a huge sweet tooth!
Overall, giving up aspartame taught me three things:
- I feel better when I do not consume aspartame.
- I have to pay more attention to reading food labels and seeing what ingredients are put in pre made things.
- Just because it is sugar free does not mean it will not affect my blood sugar levels.
Have you ever had a food addiction that you gave up? Have you given up a soda habit yourself? I would love to hear what steps you took! Also if you are looking for tips and tricks on eliminating artificial sweeteners from your diet, I would be happy to help, just reach out to me by commenting on this post!