Are You Addicted to Diet Soda?
Here is another confession for my blog. I used to be addicted to diet soft drinks. Diet coke was my vice – though I was open to any soft drink… provided it was sweet and calorie-free.
You see, when I had disordered eating and a messy relationship with food, I used to abuse diet soft drinks as a way to try to lose weight. It wasn’t uncommon for me to drink a litre of diet soda. For breakfast…
Why would I do that?
Poor body image… mixed with desperation… coupled with misinformation.
How my diet soft drink addiction started
I’dd heard that diet soft drinks were a great way to avoid eating (FYI – it’s not).
For someone who desperately wanted to lose weight, and once cut her hair into a bob just to weigh less as a ‘weigh-in'(!!!), this offered great hope…
I was advised (from some seriously bad sources) that when I was hungry, rather than eating, I should drink diet sodas because that would take away my appetite.
The rationale was that the bubbles made you bloated so you didn’t feel like eating and the caffeine was supposedly meant to help as an appetite suppressant. Apparently, sometimes we just eat when we are actually thirsty so it seemed to be a smart choice…
It seemed that the other benefit of diet soft drinks was the sweet taste – for almost zero calories! Whenever I was craving something sweet, I would opt for a sweet, diet beverage in an attempt to quench my desires.
Unfortunately, diet soft drinks never took away my sweet cravings.
One of the biggest problems was that instead of eating when I was hungry and giving myself permission to have the foods I really wanted, I deprived myself.
I was hungry and felt restricted. This made me more likely to binge eat. It wasn’t a smart idea and it didn’t lead to weight loss (which is what I really wanted).
Research supports this idea: People who drink diet soft drink do NOT weigh less.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Mounting research suggests that artificial sweeteners increase sugar cravings. This is awfully counterproductive if you’re drinking diet soft drinks to lose weight…
What happens when you drink too much diet soda?
During my abuse of diet soft drinks, there was never a moment when I realised I had a problem and thought ‘Oh, I should stop or drink less diet soft drink’.
My relationship with food was so wonky that it seemed normal. In fact, a lot of people around me also seemed to be caught up in the same bad advice…
And for many people, drinking diet soft drink instead of water is normal.
Drinking diet soft drinks to stop yourself from eating is not healthy. It isn’t even an effective way to lose weight.
If you drink diet soft drink for this reason, then you need to reassess your relationship with the beverage. You should never eat or drink something because you think it will help you lose weight. You’ll never win that way.
How much soft drink is too much?
I think we can agree that drinking a litre of soft drink for breakfast isn’t a good idea. But can you drink small amounts of soft drink in moderation?
In my mind, healthy moderation means occasionally sipping on a diet beverage is fine – if that’s your thing. Part of being healthy is about having a healthy relationship with food and not feeling deprived.
It’s important to realise WHY you’re drinking diet soft drink. If it’s because you love it, then that is a different story but still – too much of a good thing isn’t great either.
If you’re drinking soft drink on a daily basis as opposed to occasionally, then perhaps you can make a healthy change and use some of the tips below to help you drink less diet soft drink.
How to drink less diet soda
1. Swap for a healthier alternative
Drinking bubbly water was a massive help for me! I used to drink sparkling mineral water instead when ever I felt a craving. I got a SodaStream so that I can make sparkling water whenever, from my own tap water (and not churn through so much plastic). Other people prefer to drink green tea or other herbal teas…
2. Stay hydrated
It’s easy to get dehydrated when you suddenly stop drinking a lot so make sure you’re filling up on your healthy alternatives to prevent head and body aches.
3. Cravings will subside
The good news is that your cravings will go away… over time. If you let them. I no longer crave soft drinks but you can bet I did when I first cut back. It may take a few weeks of mindfully opting for your alternative before it becomes natural.
4. Create a healthy environment
If there are soft drinks in the fridge, you will drink them. It’s that simple. Swap the bottle of soft drink for some fizzy water instead.
5. Rally supporters
Sometimes, we have people in our lives who facilitate behaviour. If you always catch up with a girlfriend over a DC or diet drink, suggest that next catch up is done over a walk. Don’t ask people to ‘police’ you because that will backfire… just do your thing, at your own pace.
Struggle with a bad relationship with food like I did? Feel confused by what you should be eating? Feel like food, such as diet soft drink controls you? Check out the Keep It Real Program, created especially for help you feel in control around food. Ultimately, it’s about healthy eating without the stress!