I’m Banning Diet Coke

I’ve talked about my Diet Coke addiction in the past, but after last night’s therapy session, I’m more convinced my habit has to die a quick death.

Thursday night, we talked about how my perfectionism and anxiety are lessening, and how I feel I’m at a better place now than I was even a few weeks ago. (Yea! Plus, 31 days with no chewing-and-spitting!)

Then I brought up Monday’s binge … in gruesome detail and, after asking me if it was really a “catastrophe,” (something we’re working on — not catastrophizing every little thing) my therapist hit on something really good when she asked me if I eat a lot of things with fake sugar.

I thought for a minute. “Hm… not a whole lot … I like fat-free sugar-free pudding, but I don’t put Splenda on everything or anything. And my maple syrup and jam are sugar-free … and I like sugar-free gum but I’ve been straying from that lately …”

She nodded. Then she asked if I drink a lot of diet soda. I paused. “Yes, why?”

Turns out, she seems to think this midnight eating business might actually be more physiological than even emotional … and that my Diet Coke addiction (particularly aspertame) could be part of the problem.

Interestingly, I started drinking Diet Coke regularly in the spring of 2005. By that summer, I’d started with the midnight incidents and, also, began gaining a little weight from my lowest. Hm.

I wondered where she was going with this.

She told me that when she was a graduate research assistant back in the ’80s, her mentor shared with her this research done by some PhD. who had been the head of the FDA and resigned because the administration didn’t take his research seriously and went ahead and put aspartame on the open market despite his protests against it. (He had concluded that it wasn’t safe in animals OR humans … it is so vile to the human body).

I am not sure if this is the exact research, as I can’t remember the doc’s name … but whatever I found by Googling validates what she was saying to me. I found it here, verbatim.

“… Professor Richard Wurtman of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has shown that a number of neurochemical changes take place. In rats, aspartame doubled the levels of phenylalanine in the brain, doubling again when carbohydrates (sugars) were consumed at the same time. This combination raised the levels of tyrosine (derived from phenylalanine) in the brain by over 300%.

“Aspartame also inhibits the formation of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Researchers are well aware that aspartame interferes with thyroid function. The pituitary gland uses serotonin to signal the thyroid what to do. The interrupted signal then does anything it wants, including disrupting sleep patterns. Seratonin concentrations are significantly lower in hyperactive children than in the average child. “

Not everyone might be familiar with serotonin, but, per Medicinenet.com, “the horomone acts as both as a chemical messenger that transmits nerve signals between nerve cells and that causes blood vessels to narrow. Changes in the serotonin levels in the brain can alter the mood. For example, medications that affect the action of serotonin are used to treat depression.”

Serotonin levels also dip before our period, which explains why we crave chocolate when we’re PMSing; chocolate makes us “feel good.” So if aspartame inhibits our serotonin levels regularly … imagine how bad it is when we have our period! Our bodies “need” serotonin and when aspartame is combined with carbohydrates (what I crave!) it’s an ugly mix.

Moreover, I’ve noted that my midnight incidents tend to take place the week before my period — and it all makes sense now: I’m making it worse by drinking Diet Coke.

So I am going to give it a two-week shot and see if it changes things. I’m due for my monthly guest Tuesday (sorry if that’s TMI) so it’s a great time to start the D.C. ban. I’ll report back.

How about you? Have you banned Diet Coke and/or fake sugars? Are you happier because of it?

24 thoughts on “I’m Banning Diet Coke

  1. Congratulations on your 31 day accomplishment! You’re doing great!

    Luckily, I was never able to develop a taste for diet drinks. I just couldn’t get past that aftertaste. I was a huge pop drinker, though. Several cans a day! When I started weight watchers a couple of years ago, though, I didn’t want to waste my points on drinking when I could be eating something! So, I went cold turkey. It was hard for a while, but I barely miss it now. And the few times I’ve tried a sip, it’s been way too sweet. I’m sure my teeth thank me, too. :o)

    Good luck! I really hope that it helps! I think that the research shows that it might!

  2. Thanks Pam!! Good for you stopping with the soda!!

    ART–she’s a cognitive behavioral specialist/therapist but does have a background with eating disorders as well, but moreso where the ED/DE comes from: anxiety.

  3. I’ve some of those same things about diet pop…and is just another reason why I should stay away from those as well! My period messes up my moods bad enough–don’t need to have something else messing with my health!

    Awesome info! I’ll stick to water water water! 🙂

  4. Awww….man. 🙂 This is the one thing I have SUCH a hard time giving up. I drink about 75-100 oz. of water a day, but I HAVE to have a 32 oz. fountain d.c. in the morning and a can or two in the afternoon/evening. I know I need to give it up for multiple reasons, it’s just SO HARD because I love drinks (I constantly have a drink in my hand) and I don’t like coffee.

    For some reason, too, I feel like I eat BETTER when I’m drinking it. Sounds crazy, I know! I guess it’s because I gave soda up awhile ago, and it still feels like a treat. So I snack less when I have one.

    I am very anxious to see how you do. I am considering maybe cutting down to 3-4 days a week, and going from there….Question – are you doing anything for caffeine when you give it up? Coffee? Tea? I hate those headaches. 😦

  5. LOL Krystyna!

    Holly, I don’t think everyone should give it up — but for me, I’m going to try. I don’t drink much coffee or tea — today, tea to nurse my sore throat … but aside from the occasional skinny latte, I am not a coffee drinker at all. So I’ve never had “withdrawl” headaches.

  6. wow – i had no idea about all that! i’ve talked with my therapist about how sugar affects my depression, but never specifically about the artificial stuff. very interesting…

    i gave up drinking soda awhile back and it lasted for a few months, but sometimes i crave that wonderful, burning fizzi-ness of a freshly opened can of Pepsi…there just isn’t a substitute for it!

    Thanks for the insight 🙂

  7. Hi Lissa!

    How about DC sweetened with splenda instead of the regular DC?

    If I need a soda, on a rare occasion, that is usually what I have. It has yellow stripe on the box!

  8. Isn’t it interesting, Auntie?!

    Hi Nance!! I didn’t like the DC with Splenda — I like Coke Zero but am not sure what that has, either. I think the trick is to get myself away from the fake sugars altogether — with the occasional diet soda here and there. I’ve just been downing 2 a day and it’s all chemicals …

  9. I’ve ALWAYS thought diet coke just couldn’t be good for the human body. it’s all chemicals?

    it makes me crave more and more food (because it gives me a fake sense of full) and it effs with my sense of what sweet should taste like (it’s SO sweet).

    I wasn’t raised on it, and cut it out as a regular thing a few weeks (months?) ago? not sure. I don’t drink it with regularly, though I do sneak it in sometimes. but when I do I’m reminded why I cut it out.

    though I’m not 100% diet coke free, I know that it just can’t be a good thing and am SO glad you are cutting it out.

  10. I’m on the fence on this one. I lost all my weight while drinking 3 Diet Cokes a day. Then I gave it up for a couple of years (for other, unrelated, reasons). Now I’ve started drinking it again, but am doing a lot better with just drinking it in moderation.

    I can’t say I’ve ever noticed it having an impact on me, other than the caffeine effect. I don’t get hungrier, I don’t get less hungry, I don’t feel any different, really. Drinking it didn’t seem to make it any easier or harder to lose weight, and maintaining was exactly the same with and without it.

    Everyone is different, though, and you certainly have to find what works for you. I think this is definitely a worthwhile experiment. Good luck!!! 🙂

  11. I’ve never developed a taste for diet pop, and since I didn’t grow up drinking pop, I just don’t have a desire for it.

    I shunned all artificial sweeteners for the last 10 years because of 1.) I thought they tasted awful and 2.) they were unhealthy.

    In the past few months, I’ve add Splenda into my diet. Not a lot, but probably a packet or two a day. Usually in my oat groats or my protein smoothie I have at night. I still don’t think it’s healthy for me, but I love sweets and those are really not healhty.

    I’ve tried Stivia and honey of course, but they have Points just like real sugar. I’m very limited on my Points right now and just can’t find room for an extra two points of honey or Stivia. So Splenda is my friend.

    Good luck on giving up the Diet Cokes. I’ve also read several articles that diet pop is really bad for you, so this is a great thing to do for your health. Keep us posted.

  12. Turns out all weekend, sick, I’ve been drinking Diet Sierra Mist — which has of course aspartame — gr!! So much for that. But still no Diet Coke yet!!

    And I don’t mean to say I’ll never drink Diet Coke again — just want to test a week or two without any and see how I fare … but aspartame was even in the other stuff — ugh!

  13. Can’t wait to hear how this experiment works for you. I’ve been wanting to cut out Diet Coke out of my diet too! I’m down to 1 can a day (if that) but still drink Crystal Light and other sweetened beverages.

  14. it’s funny because I never drank Diet Coke til like spring 2005 — I remember that’s when I started. And never looked back 😉 I think one can a day is totally reasonable. I want to see how I do without any — we’ll see!

  15. Diet Coke is the 4th most-popular carbonated soft drink in the world making the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Brazil the top five markets for the product.
    It’s easy to understand why the pushers of diet coke are so vague along these lines. Soda pop can steal bone calcium and harm teeth – that’s what my dentist tells me all the time.

    Good luck!

  16. I gave up Diet Sodas when I got pregnant with my son – and I never felt better. SInce then, I started again, and am addicted. I cannot stop – I get extremely irritable when I can’t have one, and even more irritable all day. I feel like I don’t have control over my emotions or my binge eating. I know that giving up diet soda is the next step to get myself in a healthy place again, but I am really worried about the emotional withdrawal that I seem to have from it.

  17. I’ve definitely also made a connection between my Diet Coke addiction and compulsive eating, which is why I, too, have given up Diet Coke.

    There are a few reasons why I think Diet Coke was enabling my overeating:
    1) I’d been drinking it since high school- I’ve also been eating compulsively since then- so binges didn’t feel right without it! It was my “comfort drink”.
    2) Going to get Diet Coke means going to a store that also has junk food in it…often in the very same aisle.
    3) Diet Coke was my only source of caffeine- and I was drinking a lot of it. I think a lot of my eating was sort of chasing to maintain the stimulant “high” from the Diet Coke. Diet Coke works as an appetite suppressant, maybe, in the very short term if used infrequently…but for habitual drinkers, I think it has the opposite effect.
    4) I agree that what you said about the aspartame could be true too. Anything with artificial flavors totally throws my appetite out of balance.

    For me, after the caffeine withdrawal, I felt SO much more sane and able to make reasonable food choices. Now, if I’m occasionally having a bad day and really want a Diet Coke, I get a caffeine-free and I don’t suffer from the high/low symptoms that regular Diet Coke gave me.

  18. If you were to ask 1,000 people why they drink diet soda and other drinks with artificial sweeteners, I expect the vast majority (if not all) would tell you it is because they are “watching their weight” and these products have no calories.While it is true that diet sodas have no calories, it has never been proven that they help with weight loss. In fact, as I have reported in this space before, many studies have clearly shown that diet soda may do the exact opposite: make people gain weight. Read the article about Excitotoxins and avoid consuming all diet products containig aspartame. Natural Stevia is a better alternative.’

    Hottest article on our own blog

  19. An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment.
    There’s no doubt that that you need to publish more about this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but usually folks don’t talk about these topics.
    To the next! All the best!!

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