Happy Monday, y’all!
If you were to meet me in real life six or so weeks ago and we went out to breakfast—yes, breakfast—or lunch, I definitely would be ordering a Diet Coke. If you were to come over to my house to hang, it’s likely I would have been sipping on a Diet Mountain Dew. No matter how many times I tried to kick my diet soda addiction, it never stuck.
Yet at the beginning of the year, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to work on my fitness and overall wellness, and I knew that drinking at least a can or two of diet soda very day was not helping me with my health goals. So I decided to commit to giving up diet soda for Lent, figuring if it went really poorly, I could have my beloved bubbles back after six weeks. Since Ash Wednesday (March 1), I’ve only had one Diet Coke (this is huge for me!) and have no plans to become a regular soda drinker once Lent is over this Sunday on Easter.
I wanted to share a little bit about what I did to finally finally eliminate diet soda from my diet and what the process of giving it up was like for me. I don’t drink coffee, so you can only imagine what the withdrawals were like!
THE PREPARATION /
I had one last ceremonial diet soda on Mardi Gras, and made sure to eliminate the rest of my diet soda reserves from my apartment. I knew that if it was within reach, I would eventually cave, so I wanted to make sure I had to go out of my way to get a diet soda. I honestly don’t think I would have been as successful if I had soda around—it would have been too tempting!
I also knew that in order to be successful, I had to replace diet soda with something else other than plain water—something I’ve always drank a lot of—at least to start. I generally had a can of diet soda with breakfast or soon thereafter and one with lunch. While I love water, I think what I realized—especially in hindsight—is that I really just liked having something other than water every now and then to mix things up. Luckily, lemon water is one of my favorite things, so I swapped out my morning diet soda for a lemon water from day one. I honestly just did this because I liked the taste, but lemon water is also great for kick starting your metabolism and is a great alkalizing agent (#addedbonus).
Lastly, I told everyone I know that I was giving up diet soda so it was much harder for me to cheat. I knew if I drank a can of bubbly in front of them, they’d call me out, which was extremely helpful!
WEEK ONE /
I woke up on the first day of my diet soda free life, drank my lemon water, and went about my day. The first three days were really rough—I had really bad headaches, I was really tired even though I was sleeping a ton, and I was still adjusting to not having diet soda. And honestly, it may sound a bit hokey, but I missed the companionship I had with diet soda a lot—what was I supposed to drink with breakfast and lunch? What did I treat myself with after a stressful afternoon? But I forged ahead because in previous attempts to quit, I could never get past the first three days, so I was extra determined to prove to myself that I could do it.
By day four, my headaches were subsiding some, but I began to consider looking for an alternative form of caffeine so I wasn’t miserable. I took myself down to CVS one lunch break thinking I’d pick up some green tea or some other non-chemical-laden beverage. There’s no point in giving up diet soda if you’re just going to replace it with something equally bad!
It was on this trip I discovered the Bai Antioxidant Infused beverages that have as much caffeine as a green tea but also come in a variety of flavors. (I’m not a huge tea person to begin with, so their fruity options are much more up my alley!) Added bonus, there’s only 5 calories per bottle and there’s no artificial sweaters—in fact, there’s only one gram of sugar in the whole thing. Obviously, nothing is as great as water, but at this point, I was dying to taste something other than water. I also thought that by substituting Bai for diet soda at breakfast and/or lunch might help me stay off the diet soda train for the long haul—those reward stimuli were seriously missing their bubbly beverages!
WEEK TWO /
By the second week my headaches had pretty much stopped—partly because I was over the withdrawal hump and partly because I was getting some caffeine again. But, I was exhausted. Everything about the second week was pretty standard—I didn’t have any major stressors and was getting the normal amount of sleep I usually do—yet I found myself wanting to crawl in bed at 8:30 pm every night. I had kind of expected this period of fatigue as several blogs I read to mentally prep for quitting diet soda cold turkey had mentioned the extreme tiredness, but it really was no joke. As someone who likes to go, go, go all the time, it was definitely frustrating.
I was still grabbing a Bai on my way to work every morning to get that morning caffeine boost, but I wasn’t stockpiling them at home. I didn’t want to substitute one vice for another, so I wanted to try and stick mainly to water as much as possible. Plus, at $2 a pop, those things aren’t cheap.
One morning, my CVS was out of the regular Bai beverages, but had just restocked their Bai Bubbles flavors. I picked one up and knew that I found my healthier diet soda replacement. Though everyone told me to try La Croix, after drinking diet soda for years, they just weren’t sweet enough for me and I hated spending money and forcing myself to drink something I didn’t really enjoy. Bai Bubbles aren’t overly sweet or overly flavored, but they do have a stronger flavor profile than La Croix. I quickly became hooked—though I try to not drink one every day because like I said, not trying to develop a new bad habit to break!—and especially love the pineapple, blood orange, and pink grapefruit flavors. Because of the aforementioned cost, I’ve actually started buying these in bulk on Amazon simply to save some money—the unit price is almost 50 cents cheaper online!
During week two, I also became slightly concerned because I gained a couple of pounds. I was surprised since diet soda is often blamed for pushing the scale up, so I thought by quitting maybe the scale would come down. Though, good news to report—the weight gain was only temporary and probably due to the fact I was so exhausted and wasn’t making the best food choices.
WEEKS THREE THROUGH SIX /
They say it takes 21 days to break a habit, and it was the third week—so about 21 days in—that I felt like I really turned a corner. I had gotten used to not having diet soda as a normal part of my day or as a reward when I was stressed/tired/happy/sad/insert emotion here. I was no longer exhausted and actually had more energy than when I was drinking diet soda. I notice this newfound energy especially when working out and when I wake up in the morning. I also am not as bloated and am drinking even more water than I was before giving up diet soda, both of which I consider wins.
When I went to Chicago for my cousin’s bachelorette, I did cave and order a Diet Coke at brunch. We were hungover, hungry, and exhausted and I just needed that kick. As I was waiting for it to come to our table, I realized that not once during this process did I crave the flavor of diet soda—I was craving the bubbles and having something other than water to drink at a meal. When I enjoyed my Diet Coke at that brunch, it was good—but honestly, it wasn’t that good. It was a relief to realize I could enjoy a diet soda or two here or there without falling back into my old ways. I no longer felt like I needed diet soda the way I did before, so in a weird way, treating myself to a Diet Coke only made me more committed to giving it up.
While I do drink Bai Bubbles most days (and lemon water every day!), I’ll sometimes forget to bring one to work or be so busy on a weekend that I stick with good ol’ H2O. When I don’t have Bai Bubbles, I don’t get caffeine headaches or feel like I need it in the same way I did diet soda, so I feel like it’s a healthy replacement for me as I am not beholden or addicted. It’s simply a nice treat or source of caffeine from time to time.
MY BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS /
If you’re trying to kick your diet soda addiction and are sick of Googling “how to quit diet soda” every other month, I feel your pain. It’s a hard habit to break! But, I’m happy that it is no longer a part of my daily diet as I feel like it has helped me feel better overall.
If you’re looking to eliminate diet soda from your diet, based on the journey I described above, I would recommend doing the following three things:
- Quit Cold Turkey—it’s harder at the beginning, but will make it so much easier in the long run. Get rid of all the diet soda in your house and find a support system that will hold you accountable!
- Consider An Alternative Form of Caffeine—I wish I had done this sooner! Once I had a healthier way to get caffeine than diet soda, I wasn’t as miserable on those rough days. If you already drink coffee or tea, you’re probably set!
- Find A Substitute That Works For You—especially in the beginning, going from drinking water and diet soda to just drinking water is brutal and boring. Once I started trying healthier beverage alternatives to diet soda—like fruit-infused water or Bai Bubbles (seriously not sponsored, I just love them so much), it became much easier to stick to a no-diet-soda life.
If you have any questions for me about how I quit diet soda or have any tips that have worked well for you, definitely drop me a line in the comments below! x