I say this with all love, no judgment, because I’ve been there.
I used to drink two liters of diet soda every day. Yep. Two liters. Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper were my favorites, but I would settle for Diet Pepsi in a pinch.
I always had a soft spot for regular Coke as a kid, but when I started dieting as a teenager, I knew it was time to become a *~*real woman*~* and switch to diet. Oh man it was so gross at first, but after a week of choking it down, it started to taste normal, then delightful. I was hooked.
Diet Coke was a modern miracle that represented everything I wanted in my dream universe: a sweet treat with no consequences. This amazing little drink became my secret weapon to face down my food enemies each day. It satisfied my sweet tooth while helping me stay skinny. It woke me up in the mornings and kept me up during all-nighters. For ZERO calories!
Over my decade-long love affair, I read all the big headlines about diet drinks. Artificial sweeteners cause cancer; they don’t cause cancer; they lead to weight gain; they don’t lead to weight gain. I thought….OH WELL. Until whoever studies this stuff got their stories straight, you could pry my Diet Coke out of my cold dead hands. Because why would I give up something that makes me happy?
But being in a war against food did not make me happy, and diet products were keeping me there.
Artificial sweeteners distort your brain’s innate ability to know when you are satisfied, and every sip of diet soda contains a hit of sweetness that nature can’t compete with. Your brain on aspartame will never be able recognize the sweetness of a yam or a nice ripe banana. It will never be able to signal “okay stop, I’m satisfied” after a slice of delicious chocolate cake.
Your self-control is not the problem. Diet Coke and the diet industry at large have led you astray over a lifetime of glamorizing artificial sweeteners and calorie-deprivation. What starts as clever marketing in one generation becomes learned behavior for the next. And these guilt-free treats have major consequences to your daily relationship with food.
If you struggle with binge eating, I can’t stress enough how much these “miracle” products are holding you back. Quit cold turkey if you can and muscle through a few days of withdrawals, or switch to regular Coke and get your Phase 1 on.
Don’t do it for the jerks who make dumb jokes about people who drink Diet Coke, or the holier-than-thou judgers who want to shame your life choices. Do it for YOU and a life free of food issues. Nothing tastes as good as sanity feels.