Why Quitting Diet Coke Is A Good Idea & Some Suggestions For How To Do It

September 18, 2012   61 Comments

I had this friend in high school who would have a cigarette and a Diet Coke for lunch. She always seemed to have a can of it in her hand.

How To Quit Diet Coke

Her behavior mystified me because I thought that both the cigarette and the Diet Coke tasted awful. Many years later in graduate school, I faced a set of vending machines every time I wanted a break from my challenging studies. That is when I decided that I not only liked Diet Coke - I LOVED Diet Coke.

Here it was, a treat without any of the calorific consequences of the Snickers bar - Hurray! I started drinking 2-3 cans per day.

I had formed a “Diet Coke Habit” just like my pal in high school. I really didn’t see anything wrong with it. Lately, there have been some studies that say that artificial sweeteners can lead to weight gain see: Three Reasons to Rethink that Diet Coke You’re About to Drink.

I’ve gotten quite a few e-mails from people who want to stop drinking it and I want to support those readers. How did I stop drinking it? The short story is that I started drinking sparkling water (also called club soda or seltzer) when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was avoiding caffeine and I just never started drinking it again.

For those who don’t want to get pregnant to end their habit, I have some much better suggestions.

  • Try mixing the ½ Diet Coke and club soda. You can cut your daily intake in half in one short step and you will be amazed how much this tastes like full strength Diet Coke.
  • For every time you drink a glass of water instead of soda, put the money in a jar that you saved. Make sure you can see the jar fill up with all the cash that you can spend on something else.
  • Get a home soda maker (see below) and mix the sparkling water with a little orange or apple juice. This tastes much better and is better for you.
  • Find some cans of seltzer with natural flavors (no sweetener added) in your supermarket. It tastes a lot like soda but has zero calories see: A Refreshingly Sweet Zero Calorie Beverage With No Artificial Sweetener.

I did find that after a year of not drinking Diet Coke, I no longer liked the taste. Diet Coke was something that I had gotten accustomed to, like holes in my socks that I should throw out.

Just buy new socks and drink something that tastes better.

How do you deal with your soda or Diet Coke addiction?

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I allow myself one can a day. I usually have it with lunch and that's the only one I get all day. Otherwise I drink water etc.

I used to drink a few diet cokes a day. When I started Weight Watchers, I stopped drinking it during the week and I allow myself to have one on weigh-in day, and I drink it if I am on vacation. All other times I drink water and hot tea.

Some years back I wanted to stop with the artificial sweeteners as well, so I cut out all soda and started drinking carbonated water. No sodium or sugar but a nice taste. No more soda at all!

I think Diet Coke has ingredients that are addictive. It doesn't taste particularly good but I drink it anyway. I try to only drink it occasionally.

I read in a book to think about what it is I am actually craving so when I want the soda, I figured out it was the carbonation I really wanted and started drinking seltzer that way. Love to get a fresh line to squeeze in like at restaurants. I find the glass bottles taste better than the plastic ones too.

We don't drink soda in our house at all. There may be some occasion where I let the kids have a sprite or some other soda that is not caramel colored. Other then that not at all. Especially after I learned how they make caramel coloring...ammonia treated sugar. MMMMM

I decided to give up diet coke (all soda) in March of this year and just quit, cold turkey! I don't miss them at all now but the first time that I had pizza without a diet coke was hard! I have 2 small cups of coffe in the morning and water or green tea through out the day.

I, too, used to drink a can or two of diet vanilla soda (not the brand you mentioned, but the other big one) a day.

As this wiki entry acknowledges, it may be biased toward certain views, but -- to me -- it sure doesn't seem like a far leap to believe that the manufacturers of no-calorie sweeteners either aren't terribly concerned about its ill effects or, worse, that they know about the ill effects and that diet-drink makers keep using it because it creates an addictive cycle in us unwitting consumers.

While I'm no expert at any of this, I am certain that our species existed for an incredibly looooooooooooong time without any of this kind of garbage and diet drinks just don't align with my general non-garbage dietary approach, so no more diet (or other) sodas for me.

I primarily drink water these days, but when I'm feeling frisky, I'll stick a hibiscus tea bag in a bottle (… $10 from the big red discount store), fill it up with (distilled) water, and refrigerate the assembly for 12-24 hours. I then remove the tea bag, sweeten it with a little honey, shake it up, and enjoy. I imagine I'll be making and enjoying more hot herbal tea as winter rolls in.

Interesting, I just had this conversation with a nutritionist who gave me this explanation: "Carbonation is theorized to actually bind to fat cells. This causes a slowing down of fat loss, thus making it much more difficult to lose weight. Furthermore, when you ingest a carbonated drink you are essentially ingesting air. It may taste tingly, but by ingesting air you bloat the gastrointestinal tract. This causes a slow down of digestion, which is another important factor in weight loss." After hearing this, I'm ditching the carbonated water also.

Why do you need a soda maker for this? We just mix Pelligrino with juice,

I did a blog post back in August on this very subject with how I was able to quit the soda addiction!

I have never had a diet coke habit (regular yes, and I recently stopped because it was giving me acid reflux). However, my mom did have the diet coke addiction. She was developing symptoms similar to MS. On the advice of a friend in the medical profession, she researched and found that aspartame has been proven to cause these symptoms. She stopped the habit and her symptoms went away.

I was never a big soda drinker anyway. One glass with dinner at night. That's it. So when I decided maybe Coke Zero isn't a good idea anymore, I switched to diet ice tea. No problem. Doesn't flat and lasts longer too.

If I want something bubbly, it's flavored sparkling water. There are so many great flavors to choose from nowadays :)

Great post, as usual.

I am trying to cut down on my consumption of diet coke as well. I am more concerned with the acidity of it and the effect it will have on my teeth. I have switched ( and reduced from 2 a day to about 3 a week) to diet root beer as it is 3 or 4 times less acidic than diet cola and try to substitute iced water with cucumber in it. I am wondering if carbonated water would effect your teeth as well.

Thanks for the article! I switched from Coke Zero to Sprite Zero/Diet 7 UP/Diet Gingerale to reduce my caffeine intake while trying to get pregnant. But I also have read/heard that the artificial sweetners/carbonation can be just as bad. I have yet to find a way to kick Sprite Zero and I have 1-2 a day. Any suggestions?

I only have one can of diet soda per week - it is my treat over the weekend. But, I tried seltzer, and it tasted so bad I dumped it down the drain. Seriously, how does anyone drink that stuff? I just drink plain water.

I use to be a big soda drinker. I stopped when I had chemo. All I could taste was aluminum can. It was aweful. Even 6 yrs later I have found that I assosicate soda with aluminum cans and dislike the taste. Even soda from a fountain. I highly recommend not going the chemo route to quit drinking soda but it did work for me.

I was never really into soda, but I would have one a couple times of month as a treat. I quit cold over 3 years ago, for no other reason that I knew it was bad for you.

I read something once, that if you have even 1 soda every day, and you cut it out completely, you can lose about 20 pounds in 1 year without doing a single other thing.

I still have the occasional diet soda but have moved on to seltzer water with a squirt of lemon juice.

Another benefit of the sodastream is no recycling, bottles are reusable. We bought ours and i was skeptical but now love it. We sometimes add a shot ofdifferent torani syrups, at least you control the amt. i am diet coke and try to be art. Sweetner free since last fall.

I've been struggling with this for a few years. I know it's bad for me and it's been a lot of cold turkey quits, falling off the wagon, playing all the head games ("I'll have it only on Fridays; "I'll have it only on Mondays;" I'll stop tomorrow", etc). Finally I am to a place where I have learned that Diet Coke in a can gives me an outrageous headache. And I have been in pain enough times that pop in a can isn't appealing. On the other hand, I am in love with fountain pops. They don't give me a headache the way the can does. I thought I read somewhere one time that a different sweetener (different chemicals!) are used in the fountain syrup. I know the places around town that offer the best prices on pop. I hide it from my husband and coworkers when I go for a pop. I will purposely get a pop just so I can have a salty snack with it. It's bad, people.

However, I am happy to report that just in the last few weeks I have been experimenting with making refrigerator ice tea at home (and having a jug at work) and then putting in a splash of Raspberry Torani sugar free syrup (that's all I could get in my town and it's working). SUCCESS!!!!! I drink it from the fountain pop cup (I think that's key - there's something habitual and comforting to me about drinking from a fountain cup). So......I hope that I have finally found the right combination for me to replace the habit. Good luck to everyone else that's searching for a suitable replacement.

I didn't drink diet coke but loved dr pepper. I stopped buying it for my home and cut back to only drinking it the 4 days at work. Then I cut down to 1 a day at work, then one a week, and now I don't drink any. I hadn't had one on a year until this past march. And it didn't taste right. You just need to slowly do it like an addict has to because some can experience caffeine withdraws.

I actually quit cold turkey, January 15, 2011. I had a 2 liter bottle a day "habit" and I KNEW it wasn't healthy for me! The first couple of days were very difficult but once I made it to a week, I didn't want to "blow" my success. I've now been off of diet sodas for over 20 months and I don't miss them at all! In fact, this summer while traveling on vacation, my husband bought me a carbonated drink at a gas station. I had a couple of sips from it and was miserable for quite a long while afterwards (belching, bloated, etc). It's no longer appealing to me and I drink water and tea now!

Aspartame, the diet drink sweetener which is in Diet Coke, has been closely linked to cancer, especially breast cancer, so that's a really good reason to avoid it altogether. Fizzy drinks in general (including sparkling mineral water) have a higher acid content which leads to acidity in the body - a precursor to disease. So stick to non fizzy drinks - there are dozens of delicious ones to choose from - and make sure you get lots of PH neutral still water every day. You can check the PH on the mineral water bottle - anything above 7 is good and 7,7 is great.

@KathyH- that's great that you found a way to sidestep your habit.

Your post reminded me of this great video/book about understanding and changing habits:

i love love love that soda maker! no carmel coloring, no hfcs, it's the best thing ever. and now they have all natural syrup for it too! and i discovered it by reading your blog last year, asked for it for christmas, still my favorite present! my 13 year old would just die if i didn't let him have orange pop and lemon-lime pop, and i was really concerned with all the chemicals in it, so now he makes his own every day with that soda stream machine. thank you snack girl, saying it changed my life sounds a little dramatic but i feel like it really did, my husband would drink gallons of mountain dew every day, no kidding, (brominated vegetable oil, yikes!) and now he only drinks the soda from our machine!! thanks again!! :)

@Andy D - Yes!! I have heard of this very same story (with the cookie habit). I think I read about it in an article, though this video really makes it come to life. Thanks for sharing it - I'm going to save it and refer back to it when I need a boost. I have been able to figure out my cues, though I still need to experiment to find out exactly what reward that gives me. This video helped me see that aspect of my habit. So thanks again for the encouragement :)

I've never been too big on sodas. I will occasionally have one with a pizza. Otherwise, I stick to plain water. If I really get a craving for a carbonated drink, I love the flavored Seagram's cans of sparkling water.

Michelle, I just got chills reading your comment above! Glad to hear your Mom is okay now!

I gave up my 1 can a day diet soda habit 2 yrs ago when my IBS was out of control. I was shocked that 1 little can was causing me so much grief! I think it was keeping me in a constant state of irritation, which caused many other foods to bother me which now don't so much. I replaced it with Unsweetened Tea w/ a little real lemonade mixed in, or my other favorite LaCroix Coconut flavored seltzer water with a splash of real coconut water (a squeeze of lime makes it even better!) I found that as long as I had something else on hand besides plain water, making the switch wasn't that hard.

I quit cold turkey in June, not only diet coke, but all artificial sweeteners. I was trying to reduce the number of migraines I get. Three months later, I still miss my diet coke fix but the migraines have definitely decreased. I have yet to find a good substitute drink!

This has been an ongoing struggle for me. I'd love to say that I'm totally abstinent now, but I'm not. Recently, though, I started making my own kombucha. It has a natural fizz and a refreshing taste. The stuff in the store is expensive, but I can make it cheaply at home, and it seems to satisfy the craving.

I gave up Diet Coke and all soda last spring when my 9 year old asked me to sign a "no soda pledge". I went cold turkey and haven't really missed it. Sparkling water and herbal iced tea have filled in....though I do get a hankering whenever I have Mexican food....margaritas are good for that.

I found a soda called Zevia - an all natural soda sweetened with Stevia. LOVE IT!

Alisa, love the Zevia drinks.

Another refreshment suggestion is green tea from concentrated elixir. You can find concentrated green tea extract/elixir in a natural foods store. Herbasway's HerbaGreen is a good brand. Add a dropperful or two of the stuff and delectable refreshment in a flash

Ahhh Diet Coke. I was an addict for many years. I loved Equal and thought it was the best thing ever invented! People would warn me of the harmful side effects and I would brush them aside as worry warts or those "super healthy people" something I never thought I would (or could) be. Then, I started having neurological symptoms. Extreme headaches (more than the regular ones I got that occassionally sent me to bed or even the doc for a pain shot). I had ocular migraines (no pain, but vision is effected). Then I started getting tunnel vision. I had appointments with a chiro, a neurologist, an internist and I was just waiting to be poked, prodded and scanned to find whatever tumor was causing all this kaffufle.

A Google search for sudden extreme headaches returned 2 pages of results and every single entry mentioned aspertame (Equal). I thought, "What do I have to lose?" I stopped all Equal that day and never looked back. By the next day I saw improvement and it just kept getting better. I cancelled all the Dr. appointments and realized... Equal was bad.

I am not one of those people who goes around preaching about the evil's of sweetners. I never listened to them. I do share my story because if you are suffering from the same symptoms...

On the plus side, as a sugar fiend, I was quite surprized to learn that my sweet tooth lessened noticably after stopping the diet soda and Equal. I find that with a little sugar instead (it was a process to retrain my taste buds) my body is much happier and I cannot physically tolerate as much sugar as I could sweetener so I've had to make additional (POSITIVE) health changes.

Good luck to all of us for trying to live healthier lives! Remember, it is a journey!

I drink diet Pepsi and stopped cold turkey for 30 days because of this deal about artificial sugar causing weight gain. Well, NOT drinking diet Pepsi did nothing to lower my weight. It stayed basically the same and I did not feel better or worse so I am back to drinking diet Pepsi. Everything in moderation is the key!

Not a coffee drinker, so was a major diet coke drinker. After all I have read about diet soda, I started drinking tea! I make a few pots a day and chill it. There are lots of health benefits to drinking tea and I love it!

My biggest obstacle to stopping soda completely is that with some foods (pizza, for example) I want a Coke. Not an iced tea (which is my usual drink, plain, brewed, unsweetened tea) or flavored seltzer. They just don't taste right. I've been considering having beer when I have pizza - at least I wouldn't have artificial sweetener and all that other glop that's in soda.

Also, do you think you could talk about bottled teas - diet or otherwise. Is diet tea really much better than diet soda? Seems to me it still has aspartame, still has colorants and additives not found in fresh brewed.

@Charlotte - I totally know what you mean!!!!!!! I am exactly the same way. Dt Coke and some foods just go together. I think it's a habit for me and a really strong and difficult association that I've made. I have no advice - just that you're not alone :)

I am grateful to say that I haven't had Diet Coke since Halloween of I am getting pretty darn close to the year mark. Sadly, it is the 2nd time I've kicked this habit! If you get some Pelligrino or Perrier and mix it with 100% fruit juice, it really helps when you gotta have the bubbles. Water is a really good drink but if you need something almost any restaurant or fast food can order iced tea (bring some Stevia packets if you don't like it unsweetened)!!

I quit cold turkey after I read an article about how bad diet coke is for the human body. Every now and then (at a movie theatre, when I eat a hamburger) I wish for one, but I drink La Croix sparkling water or Trader Joe's Sparkling Mineral Water (lime is best) and that satisfies my craving for something bubbly.

Carbinated water is not good for your gut. Susan's post above is spot on!!!


Let me start by saying that I don't really have a dog in this hunt. I don't drink any carbonated beverages, so whether carbonation is truly good or bad doesn't much matter to me personally. That said, I am curious when someone says that X is bad for me; I'd like to know more...

Do you have any information on why it's not good for you? I Googled "carbonated water is not good for your gut" and the first link I got seemed to be advancing the exact opposite, complete with supporting references:…

I, too, had a serious Diet Coke addiction, although I found some black mango tea from Trader Joe's that I make in my ice tea maker with green tea and add stevia. Since I started making this, I don't even like the taste of Diet Coke anymore--a more than 20 year addiction! I so agree with Patti, that I can't hardly stand seltzer water! Regular water is so much better.

I applaud those of you who can stand the taste of Stevia. I think it tastes like... medicine. Not sweet. It's just icky. I'll have a little sugar instead, it won't kill me.

I never thought I could give up my cokes, but now the taste of diet coke is nasty! I would like to get off the artificial sweeteners too but unsweetened tea can be rough. I'm not convinced they're bad.

I was telling my co-working that I quit Diet Coke, cold turkey, about two weeks ago. A week after I quit I no longer had cravings for sweets like I did before. One day I was hungry and I actually craved baby carrots! My husband brought home a Diet Coke so I drank it and then ate horribly all evening and felt like garbage. Now I'm another week without Diet Coke and I feel much better. I'm down 5 pounds! I never believed anyone when they said it made you gain weight. Now I'm a believer!

UGH! I am trying to beat my Coke Zero addiction, but it is hard. I've managed to eat clean and go healthy without a problem, but this addiction eludes me. I started drinking Coke Zero when I started my PhD program and have been hooked ever since. I used coke Zero as a way to fool myself into relieving hunger, but I only managed to get heavier every year. I have tried every trick in the book, but I still yearn for the stuff. :(

Regarding sweetners. I don't think there is much argument that they are not "good" for you. Some react stronger than others. You have to be ready to make that choice yourself! In general, I am a firm believer in MODERATION!

I am a huge bubble lover and always want that carbonation. For now, drinking very cold, iced water is working for me (and oddly my kids are drinking more too -- Monkey see Monkey do I guess). At lunch, I put a splash of flavored iced tea in my water.

Currently, I limit myself to 2 Splenda per day. Equal I react very badly to.

Stevia tastes like something extracted from nail polish and sugar makes my mouth icky.

There are many days I wish I was one of those skinny girls who do all this naturally. But perhaps that's a myth and my desire to hold them down and shove donuts in their mouth is irrational? Thoughts?

Coke Zero Addict: have you thought that maybe you just need to keep drinking it for now but limit yourself? Maybe you're not ready? It took me years to officially give up soda and now I very occassionally have it. The last step before having none was limiting myself to ONE per day. Before that, I would drink one less per day and lower it week by week. I also forced myself to drink and equal amount of water and you know, you can only drink so much liquid! Also, I did not allow myself to use my soda as a meal replacement. Perhaps those ideas will work for you. Don't beat yourself up over the Coke Zero. Allow yourself to enjoy it but not use it in a way that sabotages all the positive ways you're eating! :D

Oh, Bridgette - thanks for making me laugh!

For me, the key is not having temptation around the house. Hard to do with a family that turns its nose up at the stuff I must eat to lose weight and stay of meds and healthy!

Sigh- I have a box of Stevia I bought to try so I hope it does not taste to me the way it tastes to you!

I just tried green tea with jasmine - usually I put a packet of splenda in it, but this time I tried it plain, and it is nothing to dance about, but not too bad.

I think the skinny girls have their own set of problems - that's my story and I'm sticking with it! 8-)

I had a 3-4 can a day diet coke habit. someone told me it takes 90 days to make a habit so I gave it up for 90 days cold turkey. I allowed myself one recently and it was still good but it didn't taste the same as it did before. I substituted Zevia which I don't like nearly as much but it keeps me from drinking more than 1 per day and sometimes I don't have any. I also bought the soda stream to make carbonated water and I drink other carbonated waters and just plain old water. Artificial sweeteners are not good for anyone and stevia is probably not that great either but it has helped me break the diet coke habit.

I too have one can (not diet Coke but another diet soda with caffeine) sometime after noon. Otherwise I drink water all day long. I have thought about giving it up completely but my diet is otherwise full of real food that I or my husband prepare ourselves. And I don't drink coffee or tea and find all forms of tea unpalatable (I live with 2 tea drinkers so I've tried a lot of them). I can taste the Stevia in Stevia laced sodas and find it unpleasant. I just want that little caffeine lift at that point in the day. So I guess I'm not ready yet.

Anne re: 1 diet soda a day is not going to kill you. There's a good chance you'll be just fine. We all have to work with what we have and when (diet) soda is a problem, we need to remove the hinderance to being healthy! Not because "they" tell us not to drink it. (You know those power "they" and "thems" who tell us what to do and not do.)

I saw a clip on facebook it said "rethink your drink" and had a baggie of sugar under containers of popular beverages to give you a visual of how much sugar you are actually consuming per beverage. I'm a visual person and after seeing that I can NOT consume anything BUT water...even juices make me feel guilty and gross so I just stick to water.

I was a diet coke drinker since they came out with it in August 1982 and I stopped in July this year. I started taking a daily medicine for migraines, topomax, and a side effect is that carbonated sodas taste funny. By the next afternoon the diet coke tasted only like sweet fizz and not very good. I tapered off and haven't had it for 2 months now. Because the taste was gone for me I haven't missed it as much as I'd thought I would have. Now it is water, ice tea, iced coffee and some sparkling water. Not fond of seltzer and am trying not to use any added sweeteners.

I STRONGLY urge any females to quit drinking any and all cola drinks, and also milk products if you can. Did you know that cow's milk and colas cause osteoporosis? That is thinning of the bones. I did not stop drinking them until this summer, and I am now borderline for osteoporosis. I lost a lot of bone mass in the last 6 yrs. My mother (75) is all bent over with it like the other women in the family. I am well on my way to the same fate. I stopped the cola and almost all dairy (1 C. a day max). It's NOT worth it to be old and crippled. I had hoped it wouldn't happen to me, but it is. Hopefully I have stopped soon enough.

Thank you Snack Girl! I was actually just trying to figure out a way to cut down my diet soda habit. I understand it's not healthy, but it has still been really hard for me to kick. I will definitely try your ideas!

I quit soda 2 years ago after years of addiction to Coke Zero. Soda is bad for your bones due to the acid. I got a DEXA scan done for bone density, and was diagnosed with thinning bones (osteopenia). That got me to quit that day! I drank plain soda water, Perrier, and Zevia for a while. The carbonation doesn't hurt you. Now I am used to drinking other healthy replacements.

I had a diet coke habit. I loved being in the diet coke club. I love the "guiltless caloric consumption" and the tingly carbonation.

I started having vision problems and bad headaches. My dr. scheduled an appointment with a neurologist and an mri to see what the problem was. I had a week before my appointments and one day decided to Google "sudden onset headache with vision loss." Results made me take notice. Every listing on that result was aspartame. I thought... what have I got to lose and stopped my precious (I mean diet coke) that day. 3 days later all my symptoms disappeared.

I had no choice. I had to stop. I hate seltzer and Pellegrino. I think it all tastes nasty. I switched to 1 regular coke per day b/c I needed it. That started some changes in my life. Let's face it, I was not willing to drink the same number of regular cokes. Way to big a calorie hit. Last year, I weaned myself off all soda.

Things I now know:

I won't go hitting other diet coke drinkers over the head with info. I didn't listen.

It takes some time, but the craving you have for sugar will decrease. Rather significantly.

I kept going and now my blood sugar is finally coming into a better range. I'm not as hungry even!!

I drink primarily water. Coffee in the morning (with cream and sugar, but real sugar). Water with a splash of flavored tea in the afternoon. I avoid aspartame at all costs. If I can't "afford" the sugar... I can't afford the food.

I really believe the success of such an endeavor hinges on a positive replacement vs. just removing something negative.

Good luck to all of you!

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