Cold, Bubbly, Caffeinated Evil

If the first step is admitting you have a problem, I took the first step about 15 years ago. I haven’t made much progress since.

I know the Diet Coke addiction isn’t a novel one: I share it with plenty of co-workers, my husband and, I’m sure, hundreds of thousands of PWDs. What I don’t know is what to do about it.

We go way back, Diet Coke and I. I’ve found pictures of myself at 5 or 6, wearing a swimming suit and a big yellow life jacket, clutching a koozie-d diet soda in my tiny hands. I’m on the bow of our family boat, the sun is shining, and life is good. During the diabetes camp years, I can remember waiting anxiously for my parents to pick me up; it wasn’t that I wanted to leave camp, it was that camp was a water-and-Kool-Aid kind of place, and I knew my Mom and Dad would have a Diet Coke in the car. When I trudged to my college classes through the arctic landscapes of Northeast Missouri, it wasn’t coffee I carried in my hand — it was a can of Diet Coke.

As diabetics, we’re constantly being reminded of what we shouldn’t have or do. Everything comes with a consequence: that muffin will make your blood sugar spike; too much insulin will make it hard to lose weight; the cute sandals you bought last week will cut into your foot and give you a wound that won’t heal, ultimately leading to amputation. Even if they’re not credible threats, they’re always in the back of our minds.

For so long, Diet Coke was the exception. Diet Coke doesn’t ask for a bolus. Diet Coke doesn’t surprise you with a high blood sugar 4 hours after you’ve consumed it. No one will walk up to a Diet Coke-drinking PWD and insist, “You shouldn’t be drinking that.” Diet Coke is always there when you’re tired, or sad, or really thirsty, or hungover. As far as vices go, one could do a lot worse.

But I found myself drinking so much Diet Coke that I was jittery and anxious by the end of the work day. Instead of keeping me going, that mix of caffeine and bubbles and phenylalaline was getting me so jacked up that I couldn’t even focus on a single task. And the more I paid attention, the more it seemed like that steady stream of D.C. was actually keeping my blood sugar levels slightly elevated. If I followed up a bolus with a tall glass of water, I’d see a satisfying drop in my blood sugar. If I did the same with a can of Diet Coke, the high blood sugar would usually stick.

So, I’m trying — again — to stop cut down on my Diet Coke consumption. So far, I’ve relied on caffeine-free substitutes to make the transition a little easier. Fresca, Sprite Zero and Diet Barq’s are my favorite stand-ins.

In a perfect world, I’d spend my days sipping on water and fancy pants varieties of hot tea throughout the day. But for now, I feel like I’ll always be a little bit chained to the Coke machine in the office kitchen, the convenience store on the corner, and the 12-pack in the fridge.

Has anyone else successfully — and completely — kicked the habit?

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13 comments on “Cold, Bubbly, Caffeinated Evil

  1. Jasmine says:

    I have a DC a day habit, but I’ve been slowly getting rid of it this summer with Arizona Diet Decaf Green Tea.

    And I went to college in arctic Northeast Missouri too! I bet it was the same one 🙂

  2. Layne says:

    Sadly I was have a furious addiction to Diet Coke. Love the stuff. Diet Dr. Pepper is also a vice of mine. I’m talking 4-5 cans per day!! Fortunately I’ve never felt any real pull toward the caffinated stuff and drink caffeine free (both DC and DDP). But since everyone says artificial sweetners and carbonation are the devil I’ve always wanted to try to curb the habit.

    I’ve actually found a drink I love that has DRASTICALLY reduced the amount of diet soda I drink. It’s Lipton Diet Green Tea with Citrus. it’s VERY low-caff (10 mg per serving versus 30-40 mg in a diet soda) and tastes great. I still don’t have to bolus for it since it’s zero carb and it’s not boring (like water which I hate!)

    I’m done to around 1-2 cans of soda per day, sometimes NONE! Personally, I think it’s all about finding a replacement beverage that you like as much as diet soda and has the same pros (no insulin, carb free, tastes good, etc). For the longest time, I couldn’t. Nothing tasted as good as diet soda. As soon as I foudn something that did, I didn’t really have trouble drinking less soda.

    Hope that helps!
    ~Layne

  3. FatCatAnna says:

    LOL – for me it wasn’t Diet Coke (remember I was diagnosed in ’68) – it was Fresca! In Canada we had limited choice of sugar free soda compared to USA (Tab/Fresca) – so when we went for our yearly holiday at Higgins Beach, Maine – my treat would be one of the fruit flavoured sugar free sodas Americans had. That was the only time I ever had sugar free soda as it wasn’t in my Mum’s food budget. It was water when I got back to Canada for another year.

    Hmmm, maybe if you’d lived further North in the land of ice/snow all year round (only kidding) – you’d be like me – not hooked to the Diet Coke 😉

  4. Olivejooice says:

    I don’t think I can kick the habit 😦 I will not drink it for days simply because I am too lazy to get to the store…but I always, always WANT one. Food tastes better when you’re washing it down with diet coke. Good luck!!!

  5. diane says:

    i have successfully kicked the habit…and all i had to do was move to a country where it doesn’t exist. at best we used to be able to get a “coke light” in bigger cities (if you’ve never had it, it’s a less taste, less sweet, more european version of the diet coke we love). now the only thing availble is coke zero and that just doesn’t do it for me….so i substitute with large quanitites of coffee. maybe this wasn’t so helpful. but there you have it. 🙂

  6. saucyredhead says:

    Good luck! I don’t think I could do it. I too have always loved Diet Coke – even before my diagnosis. I try to limit my consumption and sometimes I’ll make it days without one. My best suggestion? Buy some Crystal Lite single serve packets and keep a water bottle at your desk. Experiment until you find one you like. You can still have a tasty DC once in a while but I know this has helped me with my goal of consuming 64oz of water a day.

  7. Jacquie says:

    Thanks, y’all! I did pretty good today . . . and right now I’m drinking a big ol’ glass of water.

    One day at a time, right?

  8. Amanda S. says:

    My husband used to drink 2-3 diet cokes a day (and I’m the diabetic, go figure)and now…..he only drinks it when we go out and even then, I am proud to say that he sometimes doesn’t even have a diet coke then!

  9. Ckoei says:

    Sip on, undaunted – both caffeine and theophylline (in tea, my weakness) are supposed to make you more hypo-aware; your addiction thus has medicinal value ;)(thanks, Diabetes!)

  10. Earlier this year I decided to stop my (Diet Dr. Pepper) habit because it had gotten so extreme. I added a cup of coffee each day to make it easier, but then got snowed in (2 feet) and my coffee maker quit! So, for about 2 months, I stopped any consumption. One of the bad things that happened was I would be more likely to drink alcohol then instead of water. Not the right trade off! So now I’m having 3-4 a day again.

  11. Melissa says:

    I googled “aspartame toxicity” one day back in February and quit cold turkey. I went 90 days without diet coke, but the past few weeks it has slipped back into my life. When I stopped drinking it I noticed some positive changes – no longer dehydrated, no more dry skin, better dental health. I think being off of it changed my body because when I started drinking it again it made me feel nauseous and kinda light headed. So I’ve quit diet coke, again…today is day 4 without the diet coke…

  12. Nici says:

    My secret: Morning sickness. I was addicted to Diet Coke until I had morning sickness for THREE MONTHS. I quit cold turkey because I was too sick to drink it. Even now, though, I crave an ice cold Diet Coke, or a Latte from Dunkin Donuts. I’m proud to say I’ve steered clear of DC and other caffeinated beverages for 10 months now.

    I substituted ice water with lemon and those individual-serving Crystal Light (or generic) drink mixes. It helps if they are ice cold.. It’s not the same, but it’s better than nothing.

  13. Sharon says:

    Just a bit more incentive:

    Researchers at Tufts University, studying several thousand men and women, found that women who regularly drank cola-based sodas — three or more a day — had almost 4% lower bone mineral density in the hip, even though researchers controlled for calcium and vitamin D intake. But women who drank non-cola soft drinks, like Sprite or Mountain Dew, didn’t appear to have lower bone density

    I did manage to kick a diet coke habit years ago – though on hot hot days I’ll still indulge. Oddly now they really taste awful – but nothing is better when I’ve worked up a real sweat.

    The solution for me – moving to a farm – the well water is awesome!

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