There Are Winged Pigs Guarding The Frozen Tundras Of Hell Right Now

When I quit smoking 10’ish years ago, I already drank a lot of Diet Coke. I think it started in high school when some friends and I would get Diet Cokes before school started and drink them while walking around the school before the first bell. The habit continued as I started smoking a short time later. I couldn’t ever smoke a cigarette without having something to drink as well, so I was drinking a Diet Coke for most of the 20 cigarettes I smoked a day. When I quit smoking and started vaping using the healthier salt vape juice? I kept the Diet Cokes.

I gave them up a bit through some of my attempts to get pregnant through Nikki. However, when we started trying again after her, I don’t think I did more than cut down. Even throughout my entire pregnancy with Wes.

So…as best as I can figure, I’ve been drinking Diet Coke regularly for 20+ years. The longest I’ve gone without Diet Cokes in 7 years is the one day I tried to give up caffeine entirely and went 12 hours before I succumbed to the worlds worst tunnel-vision headache due to caffeine withdrawal. I have never had such a severe headache before, and I used to get migraines. It was AWFUL. I wanted to DIE. I couldn’t SEE. I couldn’t HEAR. 12 hours. That’s all it took. Before I wanted to kill myself.

As of this moment, it’s been about 36 hours since I had my last Diet Coke and I haven’t had any suicidal urges!

I’ve wanted to give up Diet Coke for a very long time. The smart and logical part of my brain knew it was something I needed to break from in my life. The Aspartame! It’s so toxic! And I drink SO MUCH. I’d say that – on any given day – I drink at least 6 cans of Diet Coke… but some days probably at least 10 cans of Diet Coke.

Let me let that sink in for a moment.

The thing is, I’ve made so many changes in my life in the last two years, giving up my Diet Cokes was very last on the list. I had been putting it off until it felt right. And since I’ve been trying to do more whole foods these last two months, it started to feel wrong to partner my nutritious whole food meals with a chemical-filled Diet Coke. So, yesterday was the first day of this session of boot camp and I thought: PERFECT TIME. Let’s do this thing.

I’ve been trying various low-calorie (but naturally sweetened!) iced coffees to balance out the caffeine withdrawals. I had what is essentially four cups of coffee spanned over the day that I would have had 6-10 Diet Cokes. So, obviously, the caffeine was still getting into my system. I want to figure out the minimum amount of caffeine I can have before I get headaches and then gradually cut back from there. If yesterday I did four cups of coffee in various iced coffee forms with not even one flicker of a headache, then I can probably spread out three cups of coffee in iced coffee form throughout today and escape the headaches.

I also kept water around me through most of the day to fulfill that hand-to-mouth dependency.

36 hours without a Diet Coke. I just can’t even begin to tell you guys how miraculous this is.

I’ve not been doing that great on the eating front the last three depressing weeks, because I cope with depression by cramming waffle fries in my mouth. But this achievement, this seemingly successful step towards breaking my Diet Coke addiction? Makes my guilt over the bad eating subside because I AM SO DAMN PROUD OF MYSELF.

I mean, it’s hard. Don’t get me wrong. Every time I open the fridge I want to grab one of those delicious looking Diet Cokes. BUT – it’s so counter-productive to all of the whole-food-eating and running and boot camp. I’m turning my body into an efficient machine and yet…YET…I’m pouring a potentially toxic chemical into it constantly throughout my days.

So…YAY KIM!

Now – anyone else got any low-cal (But naturally sweetened! No Splenda or Sweet-n-Low!) Iced Coffee recipes? Ideally I’d like to keep it down to 100-150 calories per 20 ounces. (My iced coffee cup holds about 20 ounces.) I’m also thinking about trying to mix sweet tea with unsweetened tea to see if that’s a viable caffeine source. I love Sweet Tea but the calories would kill me…so I’m thinking that balancing it out with a little unsweetened Tea may help. I basically still need my caffeine for awhile, as I slowly wean myself off that too. (Not entirely, I just would like to drink it when I want to and not just to keep the skull-crushing headaches away.)

Here’s to another day of breaking my longest-running addiction.

29 Comments

  • Han

    I gave up diet coke for like two weeks and then wasn’t concentrating one day and my friend got a round in, in the pub and that was it – I was back on it. But I am going to do it too – I’m going to finish the can that I have on my desk and then give it up!

    Let’s do this thing!!!

    You might even find that once you’re not relying on the caffeine to help you get going in the morning that you don’t need as much iced coffee/tea either.

  • Kim

    I can’t help much with iced coffee.. I’m not a big coffee fan. But I’ve slowly been working on giving up diet pepsi – I’m down to 1 can a day right now, in the mornings. sometimes I slip up and have a 2nd one in the afternoon for the extra caffine. What I’ve been doing as far as tea, though – I’ve been making mint iced tea. I found that doesn’t need any sweetener, and I *think* it’s all natural. It’s nice and refreshing and has that caffine. 🙂

    Good luck!

  • Ashley K

    Look into sugar-free syrups! If you can find a sugar free almond syrup for iced coffee, your taste buds will sing with the deliciousness. (That could just be me, though.) Sugar free raspberry tastes really good in iced teas and a couple drops (literally, drops!) into ice water makes water a lot less bland.

  • Karen

    Most. Awesome. Title. Ever. Good for you, giving up the caffeine and the sweetener. I gave up diet Mountain Dew for an entire month once and felt no different. Such a disappointment for me, as I had heard so many people talk about how great they felt after giving up sweeteners, caffeine, and soda in general.

    My oldest boy loves the Snapple Half and Half (half lemonade, half iced tea). They have a diet version that is sweetened with sucralose. Does that fit the bill?

  • Mir

    Have you tried stevia as a sweetener? It’s all-natural (plant-derived) and zero calories. It’s marketed under various names, but Truvia seems to be the biggest one. If you must have sweet, that’s probably your least-toxic bet until they decide that’s bad for you, too. 😉

    Of course, there’s a whole science of how “sweet” triggers a variety of appetite/insulin responses, regardless of the source. When I’m really trying to be uber-healthy, I just cut down the sweet in my coffee gradually until I’m just drinking it with a splash of almond milk or whatever. Theoretically “no sweet” should be the goal. But if you must have sweet, I’d say try the stevia.

    Congrats on kicking the Diet Coke!!

  • Katy

    You’re doing amazingly well. I like Diet Coke but I only have a couple a week. I’m still trying to quit smoking and as much as I tell myself that a runner should not be smoking, I still haven’t got the willpower to quit. Things haven’t been good recently and I can’t put that added pressure on myself too. I need to find that right time too. And also stop with the depression eating. We have so much in common! Not good things but still, things!

    • zoot

      I smoked as a runner before, I know how weird it is but I used to always say my favorite cigarette was one after a run, so I get it 😉 And theres a girl in my group right now who still smokes when she drinks and she runs marathons. So, yeah, it’s insane but I get it! Good luck to both of us!!! 🙂

  • Heather@YSP

    I finally gave up on soda entirely. I do still have one every now and then, but for a while this winter I was having 4-5 just during the work day. Now I have one about twice a month, when I just don’t feel like water or I want to settle my stomach.

    I like my coffee with just a little milk and sugar… it works for me! Of course my favorite iced coffee is the Pioneer Woman’s recipe made with sweetened condensed milk. I use the fat free kind, but I imagine it’s still not great for you. Here’s the recipe, which I did without the half & half: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/drinks/perfect-iced-coffee/

    You know… I just looked it up, and if you use the fat free, it’s 93 calories for 1/12 of the recipe. So maybe it’s not so bad…

    • Charlene

      I love PW’s iced coffee, too. The only change I make is to freeze some of the coffee into cubes so that the regular ice doesn’t water down your drink. Yum!

  • Kate

    Yay for you! I too am an addict. I love my Diet Cokes something fierce. I know I want to cut back or stop but I can’t! My problem is I don’t even like tea or coffee so I have no idea what I could try as a supplement. I pretty much only drink DC, water and beer!

  • Heather

    You can do it!! It’s hard, especially the first couple weeks. But you can do it. You can walk down the sides of buildings so you definitely can resist Diet Coke! I gave up Diet Coke mid-December. I figured that would be my New Year’s resolution anyway (for something like the third year in a row) and by the time January was half over, i.e., when I usually ditch my resolutions, I would already have a month of diet soda free living under my belt. And, truthfully, by the middle of January I didn’t miss it very much. Now I’m 8 months free of the chemicals! These days I enjoy some Pellegrino bubbly water when I need a bit of carbonation on my tongue.

  • Lisa

    i gave up all sodas over 20 years ago. I don’t drink coffee, can’t stand the smell of it…during the week when I have to get up early for work I have one can of Red Bull. But only one and never on weekends or vacations. I’m with heather on the carbonated water. Just flavored seltzer water, not any of the ones with artificial sweeteners. I can’t tolerate any kind of artificial sweetener- give me horrendous stomach problems. Even a stick of sugar free gum sends me running to the bathroom for hours!

    If the diet coke is tempting you don’t keep it in the house!

  • melaniek

    I have given up DC several times in the past, often for a year or more and then go right back to it… its so frustrating… the last time I gave it up I was pregnant with my daughter (she turned 4) and I had weaned myself off caffeine, but I had a lot of reflux issues during that pregnancy and when my daughter was born she had pretty severe reflux herself, and without any sleep for 7-9 months, I turned to caffeine to help but my normal unsweetened ice tea no longer worked, because for whatever reason it really REALLY aggravates my reflux… why diet coke doesnt mess with it I dont know.. but I have never been a coffee drinker unless I load it up with creamer or sugars and it seems counter-productive when I am 1lb away from 30lbs lost to start drinking my calories. I still drink a lot of water too, but yeah I am sure I am 4-6 cans of DC a day 🙁

  • Jenn D

    I gave up Coke Zero and that was awful, then I gave up dairy and that was just terrible. Worse than when I quit smoking.

    For iced coffee….

    I cold brew coffee, I use about 3 cups of ground coffee to one gallon of water then let it sit in the fridge or on the counter all night long.

    I use a cloth strainer with a handle in order to strain the coffee grounds from the coffee then I just keep it in the fridge.

    Before I gave up dairy I’d just mix a couple tablespoons of heavy cream with the cold brewed coffee. But, now I use full fat coconut milk and sometimes blend it with cocoa powder and a touch of vanilla.

    No sweeteners. I just went cold turkey on sweeteners of any kind and slowly got used to it.

  • Becky

    Hey Kim, I also had a minimum 4 cans of Diet Coke (or Diet Mt. Dew on occasion), usually closer to 6 a day habit until about a month ago. My caffeine has been one coffee in the morning (I still put one packet of Splenda in it), and then throughout the day I drink Arnold Palmers. Simply Lemonade is like 120 calories per serving, but I’m mixing mine about more 3 to 1 than half and half, at 16oz of unsweetened tea to 4oz of lemonade, so that would still be well in your range. Using a flavored lemonade it really quite yummy and refreshing as well – I really like the raspberry!

  • Mommyattorney

    I had a very similar addiction. I love the LaCroix waters. They are no calorie, not sweetened (no artificial stuff either) carbonated water. I like that they’re in a can (just like diet coke!) I like that they are carbonated! They take a little getting used to, but the lemon and lime are the best as far as I can tell.

  • Susan

    I might just join you in kicking that habit, Kim. I usually only have one Coke Zero per day, but it’s one more than I need. And, I will truly miss it. After all, I sit around thinking longingly of that Coke Zero until it’s “time” to drink it. I’m such a weirdo. But, I have recently been making lots of other healthy changes because I’m planning to try for another baby, and now’s a good time to quit … instead of the day after I see two lines on a stick. Right? Ha!

  • Dawn K.

    Congrats on such a challenging process! I go back and forth on my soda consumption, but now being a coffee drinker, it makes it much easier. I really enjoy using Toriani syrups for hot coffee. Lots of different flavors, and it doesn’t take much. I imagine youc oudl find some cold recipes that use it as well.

    I also don’t know where the orignal recipe came from, but I found a really yummy blended coffee drink that you can make that has minimal processed ingredients. I’ll email it to you because I’m paranoid about randomly sharing uncredited links from Pinterest all over the internet. 🙂

  • Other Heather

    First of all, KUDOS on kicking the habit. That is awesome and amazing and I hope you are thrilled with yourself. The sugar-free syrups are not your friend–just more aspertame , sweet n low, spenda (sucralose)–no matter what you call them, they are crazy toxic. So my ideas: Stevia if you like it, 0 calories. Also low-glycemic, low calorie sweetners that actually taste delicious like: agave nectar or Coconut Secret nectar (love the Coconut Secret which tastes nothing like coconut by the way which is good to me because I hate coconut.) Also, Yacon (find it at Whole Foods or the like) tastes sweet and kind of like caramel which sounds like it would be yummy in coffee.

  • Melissa

    I have never been a coffee drinker so I don’t have any recipes for you. I had a nasty Diet Pepsi habit for years. I managed to kick it every time I was pregnant and nursing but I would pick it right up again and it would be worse then it was before. In March 2011 I wound up in the hospital with appendicitis and I decided to take advantage of being without the caffeine for several days already and kick the habit. I did great at first but picked up drinking these carbonated fruit juice things. I decided I didn’t want to have anything that I felt the need to make special trips to the grocery store for so I gave those up as well. I will occasionally have a sprite but I don’t feel the need to have one every day or to keep them in the house.

  • Shawna

    I’ve been drinking a mint-lime tea that seems sweet but has no calories and no sweeteners, artificial or otherwise. I believe it’s Tetley Mojito – you might have it in the US.

    It won’t help with the caffeine withdrawl, but once you don’t need the caffeine anymore it’s a fun change from water and it’s great iced!

  • Courtney

    I gave up caffeine when I found out I was pregnant, so I instantly dropped my Diet Mountain Dew addiction and switched to decaf coffee. MY HEAD ALMOST EXPLODED from the lack of caffeine. Long story short – I’m fine now. It took a few days but I’m good now. Joel and I, throughout our own journey to get better about whole foods, have cut out carbonation (although I drink the Sierra Mist Natural when I’m craving a soft drink) and artificial sweeteners. We drink Coffee Mate Natural Bliss (he LOVES vanilla and I prefer sweet cream http://naturalbliss.coffee-mate.com/). It only has 4 ingredients which is great. I can barely drink other flavored creamers now. Also, when I need a pick me up, I go for the Milo’s. YES the calories are crazy in it, BUT (honestly – and this is SO anti-Southern of me) it’s really strong straight up. I do a half and half mixture of water and tea whereas Joel wants like 80% water and 20% tea. And when we go out to restaurants, we do half and half of sweet/unsweet tea because the sugar content is SO HIGH. I hope this helps! Good luck!!

  • Laural

    So, I’m not reading all the comments, but here’s the thing.
    This year I gave up both smoking and diet coke. Giving up diet coke was worse. By far. I try not to think about it. Plus side – I feel way healthier. I had to go cold turkey.
    So, the way I did it was that at first I only got it if I was at a restaurant or in a meeting (except all the meetings at my office have diet coke and I was scheduling meetings for the diet coke). Then I went totally off of it.
    I replaced it with Club Soda (not tonic water) and perrier, etc. And, I tried to do sodium free club soda when I bought cases, but at restaurants I didn’t care.
    I drink hot coffee – but then I was drinking so much more and adding a lot of calories in my day because I take coffee with cream. So … I switched to skim milk in my coffee (which was hard) and so I was just honestly miserable for a few days.
    But it’s soooo worth it!
    SO. my recommendation. Club Soda for the pop hit and hot coffee.

  • EmilysHollow

    You can buy the syrups from Starbucks, and they do have a lot of sugar free options. It’s not a sugar free choice, but we also like Agave Syrup in coffee. The glycemic index is much lower, and you can get organic ones from any health store (even, sometimes, the healthy aisle of a regular chain). Or, if you’re willing to try it, vanilla almond milk is yummy, too. And that helps take care of the calories from milk or cream or whatever.

  • suz

    Years ago, I was addicted to Starbucks’ caramel macchiatos. Then I decided to lose weight, so started getting them with non-fat milk. Then I looked up the calories, and it was something like 10,000, because of the sweetener and the caramel. So I started getting plain old lattes, with non fat milk, and NO SUGAR. It didn’t take long to get used to the unsweetened coffee.

    I think that iced coffee needs sweetener even less than hot coffee.

    I would suggest trying unsweetened coffee. Just for a bit, see if you can acclimate. Then you don’t have to worry about calories or nasty fake sugar.