A few weeks ago a colleague and I were chatting over beers. At some point in the conversation about him spending time with his brother while traveling, he mentioned how he couldn't believe how much Diet Mountain Dew his brother drank. He said he often looked like hell, was tired all the time and seemed to generally feel poorly. He also said that his brother threw back diet soda like it was water ... all day long.
The "ping" of a light bulb turning on sounded in my head. I knew that fate was giving me an obvious clue: You've been feeling the same way, fate was saying.
I discovered Diet Coke in high school in the early '90s. I've never had much of a sweet tooth so the sugary tastes of Dr. Pepper and regular Coke didn't appeal to me. But that weirdly sweet flavor of Diet Coke just tickled my fancy. I've been drinking it on a daily basis ever since. Every day: a can in the morning, one for lunch and one in the afternoon or on my way home from work.
I stopped drinking Diet Coke once when I was dating a guy who was trying to lose weight, but it didn't stick. And that was many years ago when my body was still young enough to take a beating and still feel OK. I also stopped drinking Diet Coke while I was pregnant. But that only lasted 10 months.
Now my body is beginning to feel just a tad more fragile when I eat and drink stuff I shouldn't. Sleep has always been a very important health issue for me, and for several months I've felt sluggish, droopy and dreary all day until about 8 p.m., when I suddenly zinged to life when I should be winding down. Also, my digestive tract seems to have more specific requirements for regularity and feeling healthy; the more Diet Coke I drank the more bloated I was and it would last for several days. Clearly the sodium intake was a factor.
Almost two weeks ago I quit cold turkey. The first day was fine. The second day was rough; I had headaches and used ibuprofen to relieve the pain. The third and fourth days were heinous: headaches, severe fatigue, crankiness, insomnia and cravings. I didn't think I could make it through that first week.
Detox was hard and I still crave it every day, though I hope the cravings will subside in time. I'm not quite sure if my sleep has changed for the better yet, but my energy valleys and peaks have certainly flatlined and the bloating seems to have subsided after two weeks of drinking only water all day. My pants fit me better too; a tangible benefit that feels a little like a reward.
I don't know that I will never have a Diet Coke again on occasion, but that's not what it's really all about. It's about listening to my body and making better choices, more healthy choices, because it's the right thing to do. And I can't forget the impact on my pocket book either. I'll be saving a fair amount of coin by not buying bulk Diet Coke at the Costco.