It’s possible to kick a serious, serious diet soda habit.
For years – decades, actually – I drank at least two Diet Dr. Peppers every day. If I didn’t have a bottle or can in the house, I really missed it, and would buy a drink the next time I went out. Sometimes, I would even ask a family member who was going to run errands whether they could bring a Diet DP home.
In the back of my mind, I would vaguely remember hearing that diet pop was unhealthy. I pushed that thought aside as I sipped a satisfying, icy diet drink while I worked on a newspaper article, cooked dinner, watched TV, helped with homework, talked to friends, drove somewhere or did anything except shower and sleep.
I reasoned that I continually struggled to keep my weight down, so I deserved a calorie -free treat (research has shown that diet soda does not help a person lose weight.) Why deprive myself of something I loved?
Everything changed 19 months ago. One morning, doing nothing strenuous, I suddenly felt a sharp, driving pain in my left foot. I couldn’t bear weight on my foot, and eventually ended up seeing an orthopedic foot surgeon, who diagnosed a stress fracture in my foot. He also ordered a test to check my bone density.
I was disappointed to learn I have osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis. In a followup visit the surgeon prescribed weight-bearing exercises, Vitamin D and some diet changes. Pop, he added, was very bad for bone health.
Motivation is a funny thing: After the appointment, I went cold turkey on Diet Dr. Pepper. I expected weeks of misery and cravings, but it wasn’t that bad. I did think about the diet pop, but there was no internal battle. Instead,I thought about the link between pop and thinning bones.
Drinking pop increased my chance of more stress fractures. Pop = pain.
Adding even more motivation, a few months after I quit the diet pop, the Cleveland Clinic published an article about the link between pop and strokes. I was so, so grateful that I had finally stopped drinking Diet DP.
I wasn’t perfect (my first time grocery shopping during the pandemic, I was stressed and grabbed a Diet DP in the checkout line. I drank it on the way home; it was sort of pleasant, but not the great drink I remembered. I was surprised and a bit disappointed that my favorite drink had let me down.
With those 9 a.m. sips I knew: I finally had broken my habit.